Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.03 28 Nov 2019


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The Taoiseach says a report into finances at the FAI should be published "as soon as possible".

A final independent audit has been referred to gardaí to determine whether a crime has been committed.

The Chair of the Oireachtas Sports Committee has called for a redacted version of the report to be published if possible.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today said the public deserves to see the report, but added that the Government doesn't want to undermine the ongoing process.

Speaking this morning, he said: "I think [people] should get to see it as soon as possible - huge numbers of people in Ireland are football fans, and contribute a lot to the FAI in different way, either financially or as volunteers.

"Because this has been referred to the gardaí, we wouldn't want to put anything out in the public domain that might actually undermine the possibility of future accountability or even future prosecutions."

The Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, meanwhile, said it's a "matter of grave concern" that the audit has been referred to gardaí - saying the force will now "engage in appropriate investigations".

Report

Yesterday, Sports Minister Shane Ross confirmed he had received the final audit report.

However, he said had also received legal advice warning him against publishing or commenting on it, as it had been referred to An Garda Síochána by Sport Ireland.

Minister Ross also said he had been advised not to release it to the Sports Committee.

Speaking today, Minister Ross said it's always his objective to publish everything in full.

He added: "I can't obviously have it published if there's a Garda investigation going on.

"I would love to see the report published, but I cannot see it being published if it's going to prejudice any Garda investigation... I'm not going to be in that position."

Committee chair Fergus O'Dowd earlier said he spoke to Minister Shane Ross about potentially publishing parts of the report.

Deputy O'Dowd explained: "I agreed that obviously natural justice and due process has to happen.

"But I think if there's conclusions separate that don't infringe or touch on any potential legal or other inquiry, that we should try to do that."

Reacting to Minister Ross' statement yesterday, the FAI said it will "co-operate fully with any Garda Siochana investigation into FAI affairs".

It also stated that "all Government money allocated to the FAI by Sport Ireland was spent appropriately and as intended".

Main image: File photo of Sports Minister Shane Ross and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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