OCI aiming to restore public confidence with new 'Strategic Plan'

Members are set to vote on the new plan this evening

OCI aiming to restore public confidence with new 'Strategic Plan'

OCI President Sarah Keane at the launch of the Olympic Council of Ireland Strategic Plan 2018 to 2024, 05-12-2017. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

The Olympic Council of Ireland is planning on limiting the maximum term for board members to eight years.

Members are set to vote on the proposals – which were part of recommendations in the wake of the Rio ticketing scandal – tonight.

It will mean board members can serve a maximum of eight years - made up of two terms of four.

They will also consider a new strategic plan for the next seven years, which will outline the OCI's vision for the future.

The vote comes nine months after the majority of the OCI Executive Council resigned in the wake of the Rio ticketing scandal.

OCI President Sarah Keane is hopeful the proposals will be approved - but said it is just one of a number of steps needed to restore confidence in the organisation.

She said other key steps include: “What we are doing in terms of how the organisation is run around the board; how transparent we are about our decision-making; the funding policy; being transparent about how money is issued; ensuring that we actually follow the strategic plan.”

The OCI’s ambition to become financially independent and begin contributing to national sporting budget is seen as a key pillar of the new seven-year strategic plan.

Ms Keane believes this is a realistic aim - giving the funding the sporting body receives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other sources.

“I think there is a lot more that can be done with not a huge amount of money to add value to Irish sport,” she said.

“An awful lot of our young people in particular do believe in the movement.

“They do believe in being an Olympian and I think Ireland would be in a sorry state if people wouldn’t back our talented people in this country.”

The council has also established a new Athletes' Commission in a bid to put sports people first.

The commission is made up of nine Olympians who will ensure that athletes’ concerns are taken into account – and offer them greater involvement in decisions.

Former Winter Olympian Shane O'Connor is the chair of the commission. He believes greater engagement with the board will make a huge difference:

“There was Athlete’s Commissions in the past but it just didn’t have the engagement with the board,” he said.

“The fact that we are now part of the overall OCI strategic plan – that gives us a really strong mandate.

“We have already gotten buy-in from organisations that we have never dealt with before as an athletes’ commission.

“Sport Ireland is going to recognise us as the voice of the athletes.”

He said the board were “very, very supportive” of the new commission’s ambitions when they were presented with its views.

“That to me is the biggest, significant difference between now and what has gone on in the past,” he said.

The OCI is hoping the new plan result in more athletes competing at the Games and ultimately, more medals.