Fine Gael TD and member of the Oireachtas sports committee Noel Rock
In the Dáil.
During Topical Issues, the management, finances and funding of the Football Association of Ireland was raised.
It followed the announcement of the FAI at the weekend that John Delaney would be stepping down as CEO but would be taking up a new role as executive vice-president.
The FAI said the move followed the adoption of a recommendations set out in a review of its senior management structure – which was commissioned in February and carried out by Jonathan Hall Associates.
Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who is also a member of the Oireachtas sports committee, told the Sports Minister Shane Ross no terms of reference for this report have been published to date and the FAI has “so far not even responded to our [sports] committee in looking for that report”.
Mr Rock went on to say;
“Incredibly, minister, within six weeks, that report has been produced in its entirety, no redrafting required and the contents of it acted upon by a unanimous vote of the board, culminating in the announcement of a brand new position for John Delaney.
“A new position for John Delaney, passed by an unanimous vote.
“This absolutely stinks, minister.
“I met with an expert in sporting governance who is currently undertaking such a review with a sporting body in another jurisdiction. That review is coming to conclusion, that review took a year.
“How could this review only take six weeks?
“Why did the FAI act on it so quickly? Why can’t the FAI supply us with this report, given they already acted unanimously on an element of it?
“Does the minister believe this is good corporate governance?
“Does the minister believe that taxpayers’ money is being deployed effectively?
“Does the minister not believe that now is the time for an independent examination into FAI corporate governance and finances.
“It’s time we looked at where taxpayers’ money is going as there are clear omissions being supplied.”
“On finance, I’ve spoken with current and former employees of the FAI, minister, and I am disturbed by what I’m hearing and the documents I am seeing.
“While we continue working with these sources and readying ourselves to ask questions about what has previously happened within the FAI in our committee, on April 10, I believe that we need to act now to safeguard taxpayers’ money.
“…we see in the public domain today, once again, that for 2019, the FAI requested an early drawdown of State funding from Sport Ireland – this is not the first time it has happened and no explanations have been forthcoming.
“We also saw the revelation of an undeclared directors’ loan by Mark Tighe in Sunday Times. The question has to be asked: why was this necessary? Is it the only time it happened? Why wasn’t it declared?
“Has the minister spoken to Sport Ireland on these matters, does he have any concerns with regard to the undeclared directors’ loan? Does he not agree that further taxpayer funding should be contingent on an independent examiner and an independent examination?
“The original issue which thrust this issue into the public domain was one of borrowed money, minister, but it is quite clear that the board of FAI is now only existing on borrowed time.
“These are important questions minister and they deserve an answer, they deserve a public answer. Thank you very much.”
In response, Sports Minister Shane Ross said, in relation the loan provided by Mr Delaney to the FAI “have raised serious questions about governance and financial controls in the FAI”.
He said Sport Ireland is currently engaged with the FAI to “clarify these matters” and “when the necessary clarifications have been received from the FAI” Sport Ireland will submit a report to him.
“In the interest of due process, and in the interest of natural justice, it is important that Sport Ireland’s engagement with the FAI would be given the necessary time to ensure that all matters are considered thoroughly. Therefore I do not wish to make an comment on any possible outcome from this ongoing process.”
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