Hickey may be forced to face committee over Rio

TDs will decide this month on whether to compel Pat Hickey to answer questions about the Rio ticket scandal.

It came as Olympic Council of Ireland president Sarah Keane issued a defiant message to her predecessor Mr Hickey, saying that any attempt by him to renew his Olympic duties

would cause “significant”
difficulties.

The Oireachtas committee on sport heard how problems with the OCI had dated back years, that Mr Hickey was “dominant”, and the board generally “guarded its autonomy jealously”.

A report this week uncovered the chaotic handling of tickets for Rio, the absence of record keeping, and how $1.6m (€1.3m) was paid to Pro10 and THG as ticket agents. THG was banned by Rio and for the 2018 games, while the report said Pro10 was a front for THG.

The Oireachtas committee is considering compelling Mr Hickey to give evidence, a process that would involve a Dáil vote, committee approvals, and possibly a legal battle.

Ms Keane commented upon her predecessor’s statement that he hoped to return to “international Olympic duties”. He may be entitled to attend OCI meetings as a non-voting member. She warned how this would affect the OCI after Rio, which had been “extremely damaging” and “very costly”.

“We would have significant difficulty with the former president being involved again,” she said.

Sports Council CEO John Treacy told the committee Mr Hickey was a “dominant” person and tough to stand up to. Sports Council chairman Kieran Mulvey said he was hired by Sports Minister Mary Hanafin in 2010 to “bring peace” and stop rows, which had seen ministers “humiliated” and a former Taoiseach “chastised”.

The OCI had “guarded its autonomy jealously”, he said, adding: “There were a lot of people, political or otherwise, who had felt the raw touch of that assertion.”

Solidarity TD Mick Barry questioned if governments were “part of the problem” and whether the sports council had been prevented from acting as a watchdog.


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