Update: 12.40pm: Representatives from Sport Ireland and Minister for Sport Shane Ross are before the Oireachtas Sports Committee.
They are to discuss issues relating to the governance at and funding to the FAI.
Watch proceedings live here:
Earlier: Fergus O’Dowd repeats view that FAI board to go
By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
The chairman of the Oireachtas sports committee has repeated his view that the entire FAI board and ex-chief executive John Delaney should leave and an immediate “forensic audit” of the soccer group be launched, saying it is what the public wants.
Committee chairman and Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd insists that the mass resignations are needed now, saying the public has lost faith in those in charge of Irish football.
Speaking on RTE Radio’s Today With Sean O’Rourke programme before a meeting with Sport Ireland and Sports Minister Shane Ross this afternoon, Mr O’Dowd said Mr Delaney’s decision to “voluntarily step aside” does not go far enough.
Mr O’Dowd said he personally believes all board members should resign, and said a “forensic audit” of the FAI is the only way to uncover the full details of what has happened.
“I think the issue from the committee’s point of view is that there seems a significant opinion that the FAI board in total should resign and that there should be a full forensic audit of the association. I think it’s entirely appropriate the board should not be in place. When they won’t tell us about the €100,000 loan, or people who follow sport, it needs to change. Sometimes it can be good to have a complete change. I detect from the public speaking to me they want a completely new look board, a new look FAI,” he said.
When asked specifically about John Delaney’s decision to “voluntarily step aside” pending a review, he said: “I think he should resign forthwith, from everything. I’m not a contract lawyer, but the public wish is for a completely new team, that’s my view.”
Social Democrats TD and fellow committee member Catherine Murphy made a similar demand on RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland programme earlier, insisting that Monday’s FAI statement “is not enough”.
“No it’s not enough, and I think most people would have greeted the statement with disbelief, maybe even anger, that’s how I felt myself. It’s not enough to build trust in the organisation again and the minimalist approach I think confirmed to me for all the board to go. [The idea of] John Delaney temporarily stepping aside waiting for an independent investigation, you have to say there’s more questions than answers. It really lacks credibility,” she said.
Speaking to reporters at Leinster House – as Sport Ireland officials walked past in the background – Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesperson Barry Cowen was equally critical.
However, while saying “there’s an issue of confidence that is universal in terms of the board and the former [FAI] chief executive”, Mr Cowen said his first focus is to ensure the public does not face yet more costs as a result of any exit packages: “My concern as for others is that if there is a discussion about an exit strategy that there would be no extra cost to the taxpayer.”
Asked if the FAI board is “tainted” by recent weeks, Mr Cowen added: “Of course they are, that’s what I’ve already said to you. But that’s a matter for the organisation itself. They should reflect on that.”
Earlier: Shane Ross and Sport Ireland representatives due before Oireachtas Sports Committee
Minister for Sport Shane Ross and representatives of Sport Ireland are due before the Oireachtas Sports Committee today.
Sport Ireland, who have suspended funding to the FAI, will voice their disappointment at the association’s refusal to answer important questions at last weeks sitting.
They will also announce plans to carry out a full audit of the association, pending the outcome of reviews into governance and financial matters.
Yesterday, FAI Executive Vice President, John Delaney, offered to step aside from his role, pending an independent investigation by the Association.
Mr Delaney has come under pressure over a €100,000 loan he gave the association in 2017.
Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who is a member of the Oireachtas Sports Committee, says that stepping aside is not enough.
“This is yet another sidestep, another sideshow and another distraction,” said Mr Rock.
“Frankly, it tries to cover over the real issues at play here, which are issues of corporate governance and issues of finance.”
Fergus O’Dowd, chairman of the committee, said on Monday that a “forensic audit” by an independent group is “the only clear way” to get to the bottom of the sporting scandal.