Senator hits out at critics of bid for Rugby World Cup

An ill-informed minority cannot be allowed to jeopardise Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the Seanad heard yesterday.

Fine Gael senator Neale Richmond was taking aim at Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Irish Times commentator Fintan O’Toole for supposedly placing the bid at risk.

They sought to criticise the Government’s fast-tracking of legislation to allow the Government to underwrite a bid to host the tournament. Mr Richmond said such “glib” commentary could damage the entire process.

“One of the most used phrases over the last few days by certain public representatives and commentators is ‘I fully support the bid but...’,” said Mr Richmond. “You hear it from those who pretend to support the bid before proceeding to jeopardise and undermine it through faux concerns and pedantic nitpicking.

“Every facet and requirement of this bid has been in the public domain since 2013. The requirement to pass a bill to underwrite the bid is a minor alteration to what has been a transparent process that has been discussed at length in the media, at Oireachtas committee meetings, and many other fora.”

He said the legislative debate has been used by some to garner a headline or have a cut at other issues, some parochial, some ideological, which do not come in to the remit of this bill.

Mr Richmond said the economics of the bid are sound and should be seen as a solid investment that will return a substantial profit both in economic and social terms, promoting healthy communities through the example of sport.

His comments come ahead of Sport Minister Shane Ross appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Sport today to discuss the progress of the bid.

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