Belfast Telegraph

Refusal of FAI to attend Oireachtas committee ‘an insult’

Company secretary Rea Walshe said officials needed to focus on the association’s finances and governance reform.

Republic of Ireland fans show support for their team during the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying match (Niall Carson/PA)
Republic of Ireland fans show support for their team during the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying match (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The refusal of Football Association Ireland (FAI) to attend an Irish parliament committee has been described as “an insult”.

The FAI were due to appear before the Oireachtas Tourism and Sport committee on Wednesday.

Representatives from the organisation were to have appeared alongside senior officials from Sport Ireland as well as Sports Ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin.

The immediate focus of the board must be on the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI's financial future and the appointment of an independent chairperson and three independent directors Rea Walshe, company secretary

In a letter to the clerk of the committee, company secretary Rea Walshe said officials needed to focus on the association’s finances and governance reform, and would not be able to attend.

“We had an open and honest meeting at Leinster House yesterday with ministers Ross and Griffin,” the letter reads.

“As stressed after that meeting, the immediate focus of the board must be on the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI’s financial future and the appointment of an independent chairperson and three independent directors.”

An independent audit of the FAI, which was commissioned on behalf of Sport Ireland, was referred to An Garda Siochana last month.

The review was commissioned amid questions about the finances of football’s governing body.

Sinn Fein sport spokesman Jonathan O’Brien said the FAI’s refusal to attend and answer questions on what is going on at the organisation “is an insult to every football fan in the country”.

“I am deeply frustrated at the attitude of the FAI in once again refusing to attend and answer the many, many questions that need to be asked and answered,” he said.

“It is an insult to every football fan in the country to hide away at this critical time.

“People have legitimate and urgent questions, including the workers at the FAI and the thousands of volunteers.

“The questions must be publicly answered. The FAI’s reply stated they will attend when issues have been sorted out. That is an undefined period and is unacceptable.

“Anger is growing and understandably so. The future of Irish football is in the balance and the so-called leaders are hiding behind excuses. It is time for answers not excuses.”

The FAI’s current net liabilities are about 55 million euro and they have reportedly asked the Government for 10 million euro, which Mr Ross has dismissed.

“We’re not in the business of bailing out the FAI in any circumstances,” Mr Ross said.

John Delaney resigned as executive vice-president of the Football Association of Ireland with immediate effect in September.

PA

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