Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images
THE OIREACHTAS TRANSPORT committee will not call FAI chief executive John Delaney before it to answer questions about the FIFA payment controversy.
The decision was taken in private session this morning with it understood that Fianna Fáil, Labour and Sinn Féin opposed Fine Gael’s efforts to bring Delaney before the committee.
Fine Gael sources on the committee believe the decision of other parties was influenced by phonecalls Delaney placed to members of the committee in recent days, as TheJournal.ie reported last night.
It follows calls for the soccer executive to appear before TDs and Senators in relation to the controversial €5 million payment by FIFA to the FAI, following Ireland’s failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in controversial circumstances.
The committee received advice from the Oireachtas committee procedural office that the matter was not under its remit as it did not concern public money.
Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, committee chair John O’Mahony said there had been “strong advice that it wasn’t in the committee’s remit”:
This was not public money, it was an issue between FIFA and the FAI.
Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis said that “everyone was satisfied that the money was accounted for”. Ellis had called for Delaney to appear before the committee last week, but had changed his position yesterday. He told this website he didn’t see any point in bringing Delaney in and confirmed he had spoken to him on the phone.
However some Fine Gael sources on the committee were unhappy with the outcome, pointing out that GAA boss Paraic Duffy appeared before it last year over the Garth Brooks saga despite it technically being beyond its remit.
One described the decision as being the result of a coordinated strategy from Labour, Finana Fáil and Sinn Féin NOT to call Delaney in. Another said the stance of the opposition parties and Labour had been influenced by Delaney having spoken to them in recent days.
“It sets a very, very dangerous precedent when he’s [Delaney] calling around members of the committee. Imagine if it happened with the Public Accounts Committee?” they said.
Source: Laura Hutton
O’Mahony told RTÉ that there was a vote called but that his interpretation was that the “overall views of the vast majority of the committee was not to invite him in”.
It’s believed those in favour of calling Delaney in were Fine Gael TDs Brendan Griffin, Brian Walsh, Helen McEntee, and Patrick O’Donovan, along with senator Terry Brennan along with Independent TD Tom Fleming.
As well as Ellis and his Sinn Féin colleague Michael Colreavy, Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley and Paschal Mooney opposed the motion to bring Delaney in.
Also opposed were Fine Gael’s Eamonn Coghlan, along with Labour’s Sean Kenny, Eamonn Maloney and Michael McCarthy. Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice also opposed the motion.
‘Little to add’
Last night TheJounal.ie reported that Delaney had been contacting TDs on the committee, saying that he would have little to add to what is already in the public domain.
Both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin members on the committee questioned whether there would be any benefit to bringing Delaney in for questioning having spoken to the FAI chief in recent days.
Delaney is understood to have contacted a number of committee members from all parties. While he did not express reluctance to appear before the committee he did inform politicians that he would have little to add to what has already been made public. The FAI released a detailed statement about the payment on Friday.
Delaney is also understood to have expressed concern that appearing before the committee this week would distract from Ireland’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with Scotland on Saturday.
O’Mahony confirmed he had taken a call from Delaney, saying:
He [Delaney] asked a question in relation to sending in clarifications in advance of the meeting and I advised him to do that. It wasn’t in anyway discussed whether he should or shouldn’t be called into the meeting.
The Fine Gael TD added that he wasn’t aware of calls being made to other committee members, but said it would be inappropriate if Delaney had said he did not want to appear at this time.
“It’s something that I would feel shouldn’t happen,” he added.
The FAI has not responded to a request for comment.
More: Why John Delaney has been ringing around TDs in the last few days…