The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has slammed claims by Labour leader Brendan Howlin that it is precluded from co-operating with the State Inquiry into the Games ticket scandal.
Mr Howlin said that under its own rules, the OCI was potentially unable to co-operate fully with the inquiry, launched by Sports Minister Shane Ross.
The OCI last night released a statement in which it rejected the claims.
“In media interviews today Mr Brendan Howlin stated that he was unsure if article 32 of the OCI articles of association prevented the OCI from co-operating with the State inquiry. The OCI’s legal advice is that there is no impediment whatsoever to the OCI co-operating fully with the inquiry and it intends to do so,” it stated.
Mr Howlin, responding to the Irish Examiner, said the matter is still muddied by not having a full statutory inquiry.
“Commitments to co-operate from organisations are fine, but what if individuals are adversely affected? Nothing stops them from not co-operating,” he said.
“As things stand there is no consequence for not co-operating. I have serious concerns about this, which I will set out briefly.
“First, I am concerned by a proposal to establish a non-statutory inquiry into the affairs of private bodies that are not amenable to any form of public sector control.
“No doubt public assurances of co-operation should be taken at face value but, in a context where a great deal will turn not just on the adequacy but the completeness of documentary and other information given to the inquiry — and given that little or no relevant information is in the possession or procurement of the State or any state agency — it seems to me to be inviting inevitable difficulties to go down this road with no statutory powers.”
A Government source said the decision to conduct a non-statutory inquiry was taken for several reasons.
“A statutory inquiry would not start until September 27 as it would need Dáil approval,” said the source.
“Secondly, the option we have chosen is much cheaper and a lot quicker. We have ultimately left the door open to a statutory inquiry should Judge Moran feel it necessary. But we made a calculation that given the parties have volunteered to co-operate, it was not necessary at this stage.”
Sinn Féin’s spokeswoman on sport, Imelda Munster, criticised Mr Ross for not establishing a statutory inquiry with powers to compel witnesses and evidence.
She said: “Sinn Féin had argues strongly that a non-statutory inquiry would be toothless and may never get to the full truth of the matter.
“However, Minister Ross met with Fianna Fáil yesterday and it seems an agreement was made that the inquiry could make a recommendation if it chose to do so that a statutory inquiry be held. That’s nothing more than a half measure and I’m sure if Shane Ross was still in opposition he would be very critical of this move.
“What we have here is a scandal of international proportions and the minister’s response has been to establish a toothless inquiry. That’s not good enough in Sinn Féin’s view.”
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