herald

Friday 9 December 2016

'Why is nobody complaining about their tickets being confiscated?' ask politicians

Pat Hickey
Pat Hickey

Questions have been raised why there have been no complaints from Irish fans unable to collect tickets from Kevin Mallon - despite Brazilian police seizing almost 800 tickets.

Confusion is continuing to mount over the Irish ticketing scandal at the Rio Olympics. Over the weekend, Pro 10, the official ticket reseller for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) stated they gave the tickets to THG executive Kevin Mallon so Irish fans could collect them.

However, both the Minister of State for Sport, Patrick O'Donovan, and Dublin TD Noel Rock have asked why there had been no complaints over the confiscation of up to 800 tickets for Irish events at the Games.

When the Herald raised this with Pro 10 last night, it failed to respond.

Some 781 tickets earmarked for the OCI for Irish events were confiscated and Mr Rock said "there is a complete lack of customers" complaining about not being able to attend events.

Shane Ross
Shane Ross

This is despite more than half of the events involving Irish Olympians already taking place.

"We all say let all the criminal investigations go ahead first and then we ignore all the other questions, but one of the most obvious question is, how come nobody is complaining about their tickets being confiscated?" Mr Rock said.

"So more than half of these tickets should have been allocated to somebody who could not claim them and yet nobody has come forward," he added.

Seized

Minister O'Donovan said he was not aware of any people who bought tickets from Pro 10 for Olympic events but could not attend because the tickets were seized by police.

He said he was aware of disquiet among the families of athletes who could not get tickets to events. He said this has compounded their anger and that they deserve answers.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Shane Ross has threatened to review the level of State funding to the OCI in a move that will heighten tensions further between the Government and Irish Olympic chief Pat Hickey.

Minister Ross held showdown talks with Mr Hickey in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro in the early hours of this morning.

Mr Ross was expected to demand that an independent person - possibly an assistant Secretary General in his department - be placed on the OCI team investigating the alleged illegal sale of Irish tickets.

It comes as the man at the centre of the controversy, THG executive Kevin Mallon, was due to appear in court today to face charges of conspiracy and helping to sell tickets illegally.

Pro 10 Sports Management said Mr Mallon was authorised in writing to hold tickets on its behalf for collection by clients.

He was holding 781 tickets marked for the OCI.

There was further developments yesterday including the release of a statement by the OCI, in which the body said it is not "investigating itself".

The OCI said it will make the findings of its own inquiry public once the Brazilian police investigation concludes.

"Due process must be respected in this matter. On the advice of senior legal counsel, the OCI will not risk prejudicing the ongoing judicial process in Brazil by making any further public comment," the statement said.

"The OCI will be happy to make public the findings of its own investigation at the appropriate time, but not before the Brazilian legal case has been resolved.

Misconduct

"For the avoidance of doubt, the OCI is not investigating itself; it is investigating the chain of events from the appointment of Pro 10 to the arrest of Mr Mallon. There remains no suggestion of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of the OCI or any of its staff," the statement added.

Minister O'Donovan admitted the Government cannot force the OCI to accept its request for an independent person to join the probe.

But Mr O'Donovan told the Herald the OCI's State funding could be reviewed unless it responds accordingly.

"As a department, while we don't have a direct role in the governance of individual bodies, we do have a funding role," Mr O'Donovan said, adding that there could be "implications for funding".

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