herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Hickey 'inconsistent to speak to media but not committee', says Ross

Shane Ross
Shane Ross

Sports Minister Shane Ross has questioned why the man at the centre of the Olympic ticketing scandal refused to appear before an oversight committee.

Mr Ross said it was "inconsistent" that former Olympic boss Pat Hickey answered questions to the media but failed to discuss his involvement in alleged illegal ticket sales with the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The committee met yesterday to discuss the Justice Carroll Moran Report into ticketing at the Rio Olympic Games.

Mr Hickey has claimed there were inaccuracies in the report, which found that deals between the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and THG Sports, owned by Marcus Evans, and Pro10 - a second company linked to the businessman - were more concerned with their commercial interests than the athletes, their friends, relatives and supporters.

The inquiry into Olympic tickets sales was sparked after Mr Hickey, the former OCI chief, was arrested and detained in prison in Brazil on accusations of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

Explain

Speaking at the committee hearing, Mr Ross said it would have been useful for Mr Hickey to explain his claims of inaccuracies within the report.

"I respect the right of anybody not to self-incriminate, but I find it somewhat inconsistent to be able to go and answer questions to the media and not be able to come here," said Mr Ross.

"He did say there were inaccuracies in the report, which I don't accept. I think it would be useful if he would come here and explain his point of view."

Mr Hickey, who is hoping to return to the Olympic International Council, also declined to co-operate with the investigation by the judge.

Mr Ross said it was regrettable that some parties did not co-operate with the inquiry.

He added that, even if the inquiry had the powers of compulsion, it would have "encountered great difficulty exercising these powers over parties outside the state such as THG, the Rio Organising Committee and the International Olympic Committee."

The minister said that, at the time of the ticketing scandal, the "flagship of Irish sport was very much in the hands of one man [Mr Hickey]" and vowed that would never happen again.

Mr Hickey was arrested and detained in prison in Brazil during the games last August.

He returned to Ireland after several weeks in prison and is awaiting trial in Rio de Janeiro.

The Government commissioned a report into the scandal of alleged illegal ticket sales.

The inquiry found THG Sports and Pro10 paid $1.6m (€1.36m) to obtain rights to resell Ireland's tickets at London, Sochi and Rio.

The judge found deals between the OCI and THG and Pro10 were more concerned with their own commercial interests.

Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, was also detained last August in Brazil on charges of mis-selling tickets for the Rio games.

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