OCI affiliates urge structural review

More affiliate members of the Olympic Council of Ireland have called for a review of structures within the OCI, as one member organisation insisted a constitutional review was “long overdue”.

Bernard O’Byrne, the chief executive of Basketball Ireland, said affiliate members of the OCI had not met to discuss possible changes to governance at the top of the organisation but said: “I imagine it will be a topic when we do.”

Martin Fleming, the president of the Irish Taekwondo Union, said discussions on possible changes to structures within the OCI could have taken place had there been no controversy surrounding the recent Olympic Games.

He said the controversy surrounding ticketing arrangements in Rio were “a separate issue” but said he believed governance within the OCI did need to change in future.

“The whole structure will have to change,” Mr Fleming said. “A constitutional review is overdue.”

Mr O’Byrne had written to the acting head of the OCI, William O’Brien, querying why matters in Rio “developed as they did” and referring to the OCI president who as temporarily stepped aside, asked : “Do we support Pat Hickey?”

Mr Hickey was this week charged by prosecutors in Brazil over his alleged role in the Olympic ticket touting scandal.

He has proclaimed his innocence of all allegations since his arrest last month, and this week refused to answer questions put to him by detectives in Brazil.

Mr Fleming said that Mr Hickey may have “legitimate grounds for grievances” regarding how the case was being handled by Brazilian authorities, but discussions about the future shape of the OCI are still needed.

It was reported yesterday Mr O’Byrne had said to Mr O’Brien, in a letter, that questions surrounding the ticketing controversy and the response of the OCI to it had not been adequately addressed and that this left member organisations in “a very vulnerable position”.

“We believe that it is now imperative that a meeting of all members of the OCI be called to receive relevant information from the officers and executive board,” said Mr O’Byrne.

A spokesman for the OCI said Mr O’Byrne had received a response, indicating the OCI would respond to all issues in due course but not before the conclusion of its own internal inquiry, due to be completed by October 12.

Meanwhile, a Government-established non-statutory inquiry is also underway and is not expected to be finalised until after the OCI inquiry.

Prior to the Rio Games, Mr Hickey had said that he would be stepping down as OCI president, although no timeframe was placed on that.

The duration of the OCI presidency has become another issue occupying affiliate groups of the body.

The CEO of the Golfing Union of Ireland, Pat Finn said the GUI had not discussed the situation involving Mr Hickey but he believed governance structures within the OCI needed to be changed, regardless of the outcome of the various investigations into Olympic ticketing.

Mr Finn said yesterday he stood by his comments, believing that fixed terms should be in place for the OCI presidency, rather than decades.

“In this day and age, these kind of terms of office are considered unacceptable from a governance point of view,” he said.

Mr Finn said guidelines as outlined on the www.governancecode.ie website could help instruct how the OCI could be reorganised in future.

Other affiliate members of the OCI contacted by the Irish Examiner yesterday said they were awaiting the conclusion of the OCI internal inquiry into the ticketing controversy before making any comment.

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