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'We want answers about that €100k Delaney loan' - sports boss Treacy puts FAI on spot

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Sport Ireland’s John Treacy (left) and Kieran Mulvey

Sport Ireland’s John Treacy (left) and Kieran Mulvey

Sport Ireland’s John Treacy (left) and Kieran Mulvey

The head of Sport Ireland (SI) is refusing to back the FAI board in the wake of questions over a €100,000 bridging loan provided to the football body by former chief executive John Delaney.

"I'm not saying yes," SI chief John Treacy said yesterday when repeatedly asked if he had confidence in the board at an Oireachtas committee meeting.

Mr Treacy also criticised the FAI for the timing and contents of a letter received from its president, Donal Conway.

The letter was hand-delivered yesterday morning ahead of an afternoon meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Credible

SI has requested clarification of the circumstances around the €100,000 loan provided to the association by current executive vice president Mr Delaney in April 2017. It was repaid two months later.

"We will be raising the context of the letter which falls far short of what was expected by Sport Ireland," Mr Treacy told the committee.

"The letter does not provide any explanation on the circumstances of the loan and its repayment. The board of the FAI has not provided any legitimate reason to why it cannot provide the information requested.

"In the absence of adjudication as to whether the terms and conditions of grant approval have been complied with, we still await an explanation on the circumstances around the loan and its repayment."

Asked if it was credible that a sports organisation take a loan from its chief executive rather than approach SI if it had a short-term cash-flow issue, Mr Treacy said he found the situation "extraordinary".

"That's why we're asking questions. Generally, if an organisation is in trouble, we meet to try to help and support these organisations. There is normally dialogue, there was no dialogue around this," he said.

Mr Treacy has asked for a further response from the FAI by next Monday, ahead of an SI board meeting on Tuesday.

When asked by Sinn Fein TD Imelda Munster if he had confidence in the FAI board, Mr Treacy initially said: "I would like that when we ask questions that they answer them. As it stands, we have many questions. We've asked questions and haven't got serious answers."

After being pressed three times for a yes or no response, Mr Tracey eventually replied: "I'm not saying yes."

Disgraceful

He was also questioned about the unusual nature of the recent boardroom changes at the FAI, which saw Mr Delaney move into his newly-created role and Rea Walshe step into the chief executive position.

"It's not a position we're funding, so we're limited to what we can do in terms of that position. If we're funding roles we insist on advertising," he said when asked if the jobs should have been advertised.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock hit out yesterday at the lack of clarity provided to SI by the FAI.

"Delay, defer, deny: the lack of answers or any clarity to Sport Ireland is absolutely disgraceful, and all state funding to the FAI should cease immediately until full clarity and answers are given," he said.