Alan Kelly brands Shane Ross plan for Olympic ticket inquiry 'absolutely ridiculous'

Labour TD calls on minister to release details of investigation's proposed terms of reference

Alan Kelly brands Shane Ross plan for Olympic ticket inquiry 'absolutely ridiculous'

Alan Kelly (centre) with Labour party members outside Clerys on O'Connell Street in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Labour Party TD Alan Kelly has called on Minister for Sport Shane Ross to address the limitations of a government inquiry into the Olympics ticketing scandal.

Mr Ross had given opposition parties until this evening to offer suggestions on the probe’s terms of reference.

The non-statutory nature of the investigation means it will not be able to compel witnesses to provide evidence.

Its terms are expected to be announced later this week once a judge has been selected to chair proceedings.

Mr Kelly told Newstalk that Labour received no details of the inquiry’s proposed terms before the deadline for feedback.

"Minister Ross should send on the draft terms of reference so we can comment on them and make suggestions. That is only thing we can accept," he said.

The Labour TD added that he thought the probe would not be robust enough to properly examine the ticketing controversy.

"What [Shane Ross] is proposing is absolutely ridiculous," he said, calling on the minister to "cop on".

"It will have no teeth. It will have no capacity to compel witnesses. Anyone who comes forward can destroy evidence if they want to and it will achieve nothing."

Mr Kelly also criticised the inquiry’s 12-week deadline, saying it should be extended to accommodate all relevant parties.

"There are people in prison in Brazil who need to participate. They need due process," he said.

In a letter to Mr Ross, Labour leader Brendan Howlin explained that he did not think it possible to suggest variations, additions or deletions to the terms without any details of the investigation's scope.

"Without knowing the beginning, middle and end of what it is you want to see inquired into – and I see from today’s papers that ticketing at the 2012 Olympics may yet be added – it is not possible to comment on what the terms of reference should be," he wrote.

Fianna Fáil sports spokesperson Robert Troy has also raised concerns about the probe being unable to force witnesses to comply. 

"In the event of full cooperation not being forthcoming from individuals or organisations under investigation, I believe the government should keep open the option of converting to a statutory inquiry," he said. 

Mr Troy added: "The minister should engage in prior discussion on the terms of reference with myself, as well as with other opposition spokespeople, rather than presenting them as a fait accompli when we are told he intends to publish details of the inquiry."

In their submission, the Social Democrats proposed that the inquiry focus on procurement, ticket distributor selection and transparency.

"We need to find out how and why the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) appointed THG Sports as their authorised ticket reseller for London 2012 and Pro10 Sports Management for Rio 2016,” said TD Catherine Murphy.

Emails

Meanwhile, at a press conference tonight in Rio, police alleged that the OCI helped to channel tickets for the 2016 Games to sports company THG.

RTÉ reports that Brazilian authorities claimed to have seen emails from as far back as 2010 between OCI chief Pat Hickey and THG's owner, Marcus Evans, in which the pair discussed the sale of Olympic tickets.

Police alleged that the most recent exchange between the men was on August 3rd, just two days before the Olympics kicked off. 

Mr Hickey remains in prison in Rio after being arrested last week as part of a probe into alleged ticket touting. 

Earlier today, his lawyer released a statement saying his arrest has "no legal support". 

"Mr Hickey has been arrested due to suppositions that are not supported by any material evidence or proof of the alleged facts presented by the police," Arthur Lavigne said. 

"The investigation did not bring one single slight indication that Mr Hickey could be involved with the facts therein investigated, and his detention was required by the police authority under mere assumptions."

OCI official Dermot Henihan, whose passport had been seized, has now been given permission to leave Brazil. Two other officials will be questioned in the coming days.