Going For Gold




From top: Pat Hickey arrested in Rio; Anne Marie McNally

Nobody in Ireland expected someone like Pat Hickey to be subjected to the full rigours of the law.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

Sport, it evokes visceral reactions in us no matter what our activity of choice.

Even those with very little interest in organised sports will find themselves caught up in the fervour of national support when the soccer team reaches a major championship or our Rugby lads or lasses smash it in the Six Nations or, as the last few weeks have shown us, our athletes head to the Olympics.

This time we got the full gamut of the human emotional spectrum.

We felt tremendously upset when Katie Taylor lost, not just for our nation’s loss of a medal but also for Katie personally, we jumped with passion and screamed in delight at 2am as Thomas Barr surpassed all expectations in the hurdles; we spewed with anger when we saw that the Michael Conlan judges weren’t in fact wearing balaclavas when they carried out their daylight robbery; we glowed with pride when Annalise Murphy and the O’Donovan brothers took silver in their categories and we felt awe as we attached all of our athletes compete on the international stage.

Then a police officer knocked on Pat Hickey’s door and we felt embarrassment. And shock.

There it was…we’d come through the whole spectrum, a hair-raising rollercoaster of human emotion culminating in a severe drop which left us spinning.

The collective gasps, my own included, which resonated around Ireland on the day Pat Hickey was confronted in his hotel room (or more accurately in the hotel room next to his)  by a seriously unimpressed Rio police force, are testament to our psyche as to how we expect ‘important’ people to be handled by the law.

Here was a man in the nip, hiding in a hotel room next to his while his wife told the police at the door that he’d left the country. It plays like a slapstick sitcom scene yet here was one of the most senior sports officials in Ireland as the main protagonist.

The audacity of the Brazilian police to go and arrest someone so high profile, in such a public fashion, was eye-popping to us here in Ireland who are more used to a scandal being handled by a couple of demure political interviews where there’s a bit of hand-wringing and talk about looking at setting up an inquiry which will deliver a report to be considered by politicians who will once more wring their hands.

Even if it gets to a full Tribunal stage sure no action really comes of it, does it? In essence nobody really expects anyone in as senior a position as Pat Hickey to be subjected to the full rigours of the law the way others beneath him might be.

It’s almost like a form of Stockholm syndrome we are suffering from. We know when things are wrong and we call it out but by and large our expectations have been diminished to the point that we are just happy to see something being recognised rather than actually brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

It’s not because we don’t want to see real repercussions it’s that we’ve been conditioned not to expect them.

It’s why someone who has had the gravest of findings made against him by a Tribunal of Inquiry can proudly strut around the Aviva chatting about his funding of the FAI management team or why the other person also lambasted by the same Tribunal has no qualms about putting his name on a ballot paper – and can have thousands of people vote for him regardless!

This week we watched as Minister Leo Varadkar told us that he believes that anyone availing of State services who dares to criticise them publicly should have their most confidential personal details become fair game in the public sphere.

He believes it so strongly that he wants to bring forward new legislation which would enable him to do it.

You see according to Minister Varadkar these are the real issues we need to concern ourselves with, vulnerable people, reliant on State services, daring to speak out and criticise them, or to have the audacity to try to take a bit of control of their child’s future.

These are the people who need to be intimidated and silenced lest they make a mockery of our State.

Ironically the outlet owned by the same person who had such grave findings made against him by Moriarty, had no hesitation in becoming the Minister’s hatchet for this particular punishment beating on the latest vulnerable person who dared to get a bit uppity about their own life on the margins of society.

If only such dogged ‘reporters’ could give the same tenacity to the Moriarty findings, or the Cregan Inquiry into Siteserv we’d be a lot better served.

While in Rio the Brazilian police get on with the job of policing, our lads have, guess what…yup, they’ve set up an inquiry. Cue hands being wrung and costs to the State accruing rapidly.

Ah yeah, it’s another Irish white-collar investigation. We could win 10 Golds in that category, no doubt.

Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

97 thoughts on “Going For Gold

  1. Owen C

    “You see according to Minister Varadkar these are the real issues we need to concern ourselves with, vulnerable people, reliant on State services, daring to speak out and criticise them, or to have the audacity to try to take a bit of control of their child’s future.”

    And the Pat Hickey issue disappears quicker than Usain Bolt…

    1. dd

      TBF to Leo. He was suggesting if people are lying about services being provided for political purposes then one should have a right of response.

      If one cannot afford one’s own accomodation and is offered accomodation supplied by another body, and then claims this was not the case, for whatever reason, but very publically does this, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to refute this.

      If one wants rent certainty and fixity of tenure for 5 years, then perhaps one should look into purchasing or finding more income….

  2. Panty Christ

    Let me go out on a limb and say that perhaps the Brazilian authorities don’t actually have it in for par hickey but rather the THG Pro 10 cabal. Lean on Pat and get him to squeal. He’s a soft target for them considering the stuff they deal with daily.

    1. Owen C

      Its standard Brazilian legal tactics. Arrest and lean on as many people as possible. Real aim is to get information flowing up the line for the real targets. Brazilian legal manoeuvers are flexible enough to allow them to do it, but probably wouldn’t work here.

      1. some old queen

        That’s fair enough but the core question remains. Why is there so much political interference in what should be criminal matters?

        I very much doubt if the legal system has changed that much since the British left and yet, you will never see the guards taking actions like what happened in Rio.

        1. AssPants

          “you will never see the Guards taking actions like what happened in Rio”

          And that is the crux of the problem with politics in this country. The politicians and their chosen elite are immune from the powers of the Guards.

          The Brazilian authorities treated Hickey like every other ticket touting scum. Just because he has a nice suit on (dressing gown), did not give him the protection he would be used to here at home. Also, it is very refreshing to hear the investigation findings as the Brazilian police uncover each part of the ticketing scam.

          Where as at home here in Ireland, the relevant investigation authorities would not comment on anything “while the investigation is ongoing”. Then the political cronies would step in and decide what “the ordinary people” should hear.

          We need a Brazilian Garda Commissioner…… I bet there would be very little expended in the way of a Garda overtime bill…..

    2. Owen

      Perhaps, but one things that comes to mind. Since 1986 PH has been at the helm of the IOC. 100s of athletes, 100s of business developments etc. Not one person has come out in his defense saying “there is a mistake here” or “He is not involved, the Brazilians are using him to get info”. Nothing of the kind. If the cops were leaning on him for gain there would be people supporting him / defending him.

      1. Owen C


        oh, im sure he’s been up to no good. I just mean the core point of the Brazilian police work might be to ultimately snare an even bigger fish.

  3. Al

    I wasnt embarrassed by Pat Hickey’s arrest and I see no reason why anyone else in Ireland should either

      1. Disasta

        Same. I’m more embarrassed that Brazilian authorities are so much more effective than ours at dealing with white collar crime

        1. Brother Barnabas


          Same. Don’t understand why anyone would be embarrassed. I’m delighted to see that infected genitalia banged up.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Exactly. Nor schocked. Anne-Maries’ post is the first I’ve seen it even suggested that Irish people are embarrassed or indeed were shocked or surprised. I live away out ‘fodin’ and Hickey’s arrest made the headlines but not one Irish person felt apologetic or embarrassed. News of his detention was applauded.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Shocked that one of the Elites is actually getting his collar felt because we know that kind of thing would never happen here. Our elites are escorted by appointment for questioning allowing them to leave in time for the match, or the round of golf.

        Embarrassed? Not in the slightest! And as Owen said upthread, not one athlete has come forward to protest Hickey’s treatment, only his fellow elites who are scared poopless that they might get their collars felt too.

  4. Steve

    Who we talking about here?? Erica Fleming?

    Excuse the ignorance also but also what legislation is varadkar proposing?? Broadsheet usually helpful with embedded hyperlinks.

    1. dd

      i think ann marie is drawing a link between the entitlement culture of Pat hickey and the entitlement culture of those who feel the need to demand the state provides acocomodaiton for life and then turns down offers of acccomodation. I’m not sure but I’d imagine that’s what she’s hinting at.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        What she’s saying is that this country will send poor people to prison while it brushes theft committed by the upper echelons of society under the carpet so the sight of a member of that upper echelon actually getting arrested was shocking to most. Simple.

        1. dd

          What’s the deal with the Varadkar reference so? It seems someone told a few fibs, deliberately to make him look bad and he wants to defend himself.

          I know someone recently claimed that she expected the state to provide accomodation for two people for 5 years!!! with no rent increase!! Someone is obvs living in some communist utopia…strange that the father never gets mentioned tho…

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            “What’s the deal with the Varadkar reference so?”

            An example of a poor person being attacked by the upper echelons.

            “I know someone recently claimed that she expected the state to provide accomodation for two people for 5 years!!! with no rent increase!!”

            Good for you.

            “Someone is obvs living in some communist utopia”

            Communist utopia? Someone here is delusional alright.

        2. dd

          Hmm, I think it’s odd that Moyest likes to use a certain individual as a political football but then wehn it turns out that this person has been less than truthful and is in fact seeking a bizarre range of benefits from the state, feels that she is a poor person being attacked by the upper echelons.

          I’ve never been offered an apartment in Clontarf. Perhaps i should join sinn fein and have a go at leo (Tbh i’ve no grá for the man, but i do have some self awareness and dignity)

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I’ve never been offered an apartment in Clontarf.”

            Neither have I, but then I’m not homeless. Are you?

          2. dd

            Hi Moyest, no, I pay for my own accomodation. If I was homeless and offered a home, particularly if i had a child, I think I’d be inclined to take it, even if not ideal, and then from that home work and aspire to getting an ideal home. What would you do?

          3. dd

            Nope, but if i was, I’d take a genuine offer of accomodation rather than a hotel room. I defintely wouldn’t make bizarre demands of 5 years with no rent increase.

            What would you do?

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Ah, right. So you’ve no idea what it’s like to be homeless then and aren’t in any position to judge. Grand.

          5. dd

            Right, most male obstetricians have never had a baby.

            They’re not in a position to judge.

            Sack them all

            you’re pathetic little moyest. I’ll leave you to it xox

          6. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yeah, a male doctor knowing about something he studied is just the same as a nosy curtain twitching nobody judging a homeless mother. Please don’t go. Your stupidity is amusing to me.

          7. dd

            Well, it seems you and Ms McNally have judged her worthy of support despite her lies, you little nobody nosy curtain twitcher :)

  5. Jake38

    “Then a police officer knocked on Pat Hickey’s door and we felt embarrassment”

    Really? I don’t think so.

          1. mildred st. meadowlark

            And no you don’t. Thanks to yer man from In Bruges I’ve a bit of a thing about saying ‘alcoves’ out loud, in the interest of full disclosure and all that.

  6. Owen

    Nice article, but not sure too many were embarrassed by PH being arrested, more delighted and laughing out loud about it. It also now closes the door on Delaney taking his role, and him having his pal keeping the gravy train going and covering up his past.

    So yes, the Brazilians have done what we should be doing. Kicking down doors and locking people up.

  7. dav

    Great article Catherine, the civilwarshirts will attack you because they want to maintain the corrupt status quo.

  8. Clampers Outside!

    What’s all this collective “we” stuff…. don’t be so assuming, it makes you sound sensationalist, tabloid like and ridiculous.
    I want objectivity from my politicians, not inward looking personalisation of the news.

    ” It plays like a slapstick sitcom scene ” ….how so?
    ” The audacity of the Brazilian police to go and arrest someone so high profile, in such a public fashion, was eye-popping to us here in Ireland ” ….no it wasn’t.
    ” It’s almost like a form of Stockholm syndrome we are suffering from. ” …WTF?

    Far too much emotive nonsense in that piece…. bleurgh….. more facts, less emotionally driven speculative “we” crap, thanks.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      It’s an OPINION piece, ffs. What are you, her English teacher? She’s not even a politician!

      1. Owen C

        Her only bio on this post: “Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats”

        Her bio on Twitter: “Social Democrats Rep for Dublin Mid-West. Political Director for @socdems.”

        If not a politician, how else would you describe her? A wannabe-politician?


      tell me how i felt anne…?

      ‘upset’ when katie lost…

      ‘tremendously upset’…jaykers anne, maybe i was.

      wait no,no..i remember..thats it …i cudnt give a flyn’f

    3. bisted

      …yea…go easy on the ‘we’ Anne-Marie…despite what your press releases say you don’t speak for everybody…and when you understand that maybe you’ll respect that Lowry has been democratically elected and you’ve been democratically rejected…

  9. ethereal

    I wasn’t embarrased at all about his arrest, was delighted by it. Also it is not in my psyche to expect “important” people not to be treated this way, it is fact that they are not treated his way in Ireland even though the public expect that they should be

  10. fluffybiscuits

    “If only such dogged ‘reporters’ could give the same tenacity to the Moriarty findings, or the Cregan Inquiry into Siteserv we’d be a lot better served.”

    Agree with this but the reasons for it are that any contempt shown for the establishment or the media oligarchs is met with resistance. Gemma O Doherty anyone? Its up to sites like Indymedia and Broadsheet to fill that space.

    Good article :)

    1. dd

      And yet…when dogged little Philip Ryan uncovers a story of public interest he’s hounded. You just can’t win in this countyr



  11. Mayor Quimby

    Sub-Una Mullally writing (hyperbole, over reliance on passive voice) mixed with Una Mullaly-esque conclusions and a complete inability to articulate a policy.

    You’ll go places

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Standard patronising, personal attack against opinionated woman including comparison to female writer who is generally lambasted by insecure MRAs. You won’t go anywhere.

        1. Owen C

          And what the hell is LPRV? Localized Poverty Reduction in Vietnam? They’re killing us with acronyms here.

          1. Elizabeth Mainwaring

            (Shhhhhhhhh, I made it up!
            Just to get Moyest into a bigger self-righteous froth! The poor girlie)

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Lol! Look at the whiny response when just 1 of Brain Trust get their obnoxious attitude thrown back at them. Such delicate flowers.

        1. dd


          Tbf you’re the one getting all whiny about a single mother who demands a property for 5 (five) years with no rent increase….god forbid she might accept slightly less and perhaps try to improve her situation with time…probably better to mobilise the entitled brigade

  12. dd

    Amo seems to have a ferocious amount of time to be watching television…

    and less amount of time for ensuring that people that she uses as exemplary individuals for complaining and campaigning are being truthful and honest….

  13. nellyb

    Like many said, no embarrassment felt on my side either. Only relief that someone out there for good or bad reason started the right thing.
    This endless pre-Olympics portrayal of Brazil as the most backward, the most corrupt and witless place, had eventually struck the nerve with Brazilians. Tonns of developed world media jumped on this wagon and poured scorn on them. As we’re any better.
    No surprise, they got fed up and exposed some of our prancing ‘betters’ for who they are – american bathroom-trashing dimwits or IOC ‘godfather’ with h@rD 0n for bullying and plunder. I hope some artful inmate will tattoo Christ the Redeemer on Hickey’s chest before he’s extradited to our judicial spa.

    1. rotide

      The endless portrayal as Brazil as a corrupt place was correct.

      Backwards and witless was in your own head.

  14. nellyb

    Motion of no confidence should tabled in the Dail. To rattle Varadkars and Covneys with their proactive do-nothings about Hickey’s machinations. I don’t care what good people they are in private or how much pressure applied by their handlers. Driftwood.

  15. rotide

    I actually agree with Amo, but it’s hardly front page news.

    Every pub conversation regarding this surrounded the comedy of the arrest and the exasperation that it wasn’t Irish police doing the arresting. She’s right, we are terrible as a nation at bringing these types to justice. We’re hardly alone in this, it’s a problem in many countries, notably the USA.

  16. Andy

    Does this story really need another blog of vacuous rubbish added to the pile?

    You’d never see this in Ireland? Really, was Seannie Fitz not arrested in front of the media in Wicklow?

    So far there has been no evidence presented against Hickey. Instead we’ve been presented with pictures of his passport and an airline ticket and screen prints of his legal correspondence (which had nothing to do with Ticket Touting which the Brazilians are seeking to charge him with).

    So effectively what we have here is typical opposition glee. “Oh look, a representative of the establishment elite was arrested. The Irish elite etc are terrible. We’re so much better than them cause we’re real. We’re just like you and not typical politicians in it purely for the votes blah blah blah.” My enemies enemy is my friend………….

    As for your support of that Erica person, lets get some points clear:
    – She didn’t qualify for BTEA yet your SocDem colleague, Gary, recommended she apply for it.
    – Gary is quick to remind everyone that he has a degree (which he thinks is special even though 100,000’s other have them). If he was so highly educated why couldn’t he understand the qualification criteria for BTEA? He messed up and wants to blame the everyone else for it.
    – Gary stated he attended a meeting with Erica and DCC yet Erica’s latest blog/record-straightening on thejounral says the only contact she had on this matter was via phone. QED – one of them is lying.
    – She wants a 5 year lease or council house of she’ll sit in the hotel room? Apparently to her, a 1 year lease is unacceptable even though there are 100,000’s others renting on 1 year leases (with the vast majority paying for it all themselves).
    – 5 years at €1,200 a month for Clontarf is €72,000. All you hero wants is €72,000 guaranteed & paid for by the DCC. At €1,500 a month, which si closer to market rent, that’s €90,000.
    – Hickey may well be a clown and up to no good and as such you are entitled to express joy at him eventually getting his come-upons, but don’t be surprised when everyone also expresses same as your self-maintained homeless hero’s story is dismantled and exposed.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      * applause *

      I’m getting somewhat disheartened with Soc Dems, whom I held up as a shining light of factual based straight forward action, integrity and truth…. but all I’m getting from Soc Dems is this ‘anything but the establishment’ that leans left, no matter how vague the cause célèbre…. it’s disheartening that a party that established itself on fact finding is going down the vaguely factual protest route.

      …or so it seems. I’ll not give up on them yet, though ! :) And thanks for the point by point above. I look forward to someone either refuting or confirming it.

    2. some old queen

      Oh dear. Looks like some feathers have been ruffled. The biggest housing crisis in the history of the state and nobody knows why.

      Andy, do you know why?

      1. Andy

        Yourself and SOQ hunting in a pack today Moyest?

        Do you need close moral support for when the big bad capitalist pigs scoff at your latest little social outrage campaign?

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