Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has met Pat Hickey’s family over concerns about the welfare, in Rio, of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) stalwart.
Members of Mr Hickey’s family and their legal team met the minister yesterday evening at the Department of Foreign Affairs and afterwards said they had been “reassured” by the meeting.
Mr Hickey, who temporarily stepped aside from his role as president of the OCI after being arrested over ticket touting allegations almost two weeks ago, was released from prison earlier this week.
On Monday, a judge ordered his release due to his “critical health condition”. However, the 71-year-old, who was released early on Tuesday, was told he must remain in Brazil.
His family had voiced major concerns for his welfare and last week asked to meet with the minister.
However, before the meeting, Mr Flanagan warned he would not be interfering in the judicial process in Rio on behalf of Mr Hickey or any other Irish citizen.
A statement released after the meeting by the Hickey family solicitor thanked Mr Flanagan for taking time out to speak with them.
“The family has been reassured that the minister and the Department of Foreign Affairs are doing everything in their power to provide all necessary consular support to Mr Hickey at this time.
“The family would ask the media to respect their privacy at this difficult time,” the statement read.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Flanagan said: “I note that he has been released from prison in Rio, he had been in receipt of consular assistance, which he requested shortly after his arrest and detention.
“Like any other Irish citizen, the matter of his welfare, his health, is one of fundamental importance to me as minister for foreign affairs. A number of very serious allegations have been made against an Irish citizen. I want to make it quite clear that there are no circumstances under which I or any of my officials would interfere in the judicial process of any country, but in this specific case, the matter of the criminal justice system in Brazil.
“That must be clear.”
However, he said it was his responsibility to ensure all Irish citizens are treated equally and he would listen to the concerns of the Hickey family.
He said that the meeting would also be used to fully brief the family “on what both myself and my officials have been doing in order to ensure the health and welfare of Mr Hickey”.
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