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Why John Delaney has been ringing around TDs in the last few days...

The FAI chief executive has been on the phone to discuss a possible appearance before the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee.

John Delaney on the phone (File photo)
John Delaney on the phone (File photo)
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JOHN DELANEY HAS told TDs who may want to question him that he would have little to add to what he has already said publicly about FIFA’s controversial €5 million payment to the FAI.

The FAI chief executive has been ringing members of the Oireachtas Transport and Communications committee in recent days, has learned.

It comes amid calls for him to appear before the committee in relation to the controversial payment which followed Ireland’s failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after defeat to France in 2009.

The FAI released a detailed statement about the payment on Friday.

While it’s understood he has not expressed reluctance to appear before the committee if asked, Delaney has told some TDs that he would have little to add to what is already in the public domain.

He has also told some deputies that appearing this week could serve as a distraction ahead of Ireland’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier at the weekend.

The committee is likely to consider whether to call Delaney before it at a meeting in Leinster House tomorrow morning. 

15/9/2012. Free Marian Price Protests Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

But several committee members today questioned whether there would be any merit in Delaney appearing before the committee, including Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis and Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley, both of whom spoke to Delaney in recent days.

Ellis said last week that Delaney should come before the committee but today said he now believes it may not be necessary to bring the soccer executive in:

At this moment, unless someone tells me different, I don’t see any point on bringing him in. I am just of that view at the moment.

Dooley said he “remained to be convinced” of the need to bring in the FAI chief and said such a hearing had the potential to become “a show trial”.

“I’m not so sure he can add a whole lot more. What I am interested in seeing is the Minister for Sport coming before us to set out the criteria that the department have to ensure all state funds are appropriately tracked and audited it,” he said.

screen-shot-2015-03-31-at-15-38-01 Timmy Dooley

In conversations that have taken place in recent days, Delaney has told members that he does not believe he has anything more to add to what he has said publicly about the controversy. A committee source said:

He just reiterated what he said publicly and was sort of saying: ‘I’ve nothing more to add.’ He said he was happy to come in but was saying: ‘I don’t have any more to tell you guys.’

Another committee source said Delaney had concerns about the impact such an appearance would have ahead of Ireland’s crucial Euro 2016 game against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

“He had a concern about the match, he didn’t want to be called in before the match,” they said.

Committee chairman, Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony, said this evening that the decision to call Delaney before the committee should not distract from Saturday’s game, indicating any potential appearance would be next week at the earliest.

He insisted that the decision on whether or not to call Delaney before the committee would be a matter for members.

The FAI had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Read: Former GAA president says FAI should give back the €5 million

Read: This is how the FAI was handed €5million by Fifa, according to a new Association statement

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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