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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Team ireland at the áras

Team Ireland visited the Áras today and there were smiles all around

He also had some strong words for Ireland’s sporting bosses. .

28/08/2016. Members of Team Ireland who competed a Photo: Members of Team Ireland at Áran an Úachtaráin today. Photo:

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has called for a “fearless response” to the controversies that have engulfed Irish sport since the Olympics.

The President and his wife Sabina hosted Team Ireland athletes at a reception in Áras an Uachtaráin this morning and took the opportunity to call for steps to be taken to ensure that public confidence in Irish sporting organisations is maintained.

“These Olympic games have also exposed some serious issues for us, both here in Ireland and amongst the entire Olympic family,” Higgins said.

28/08/2016. Members of Team Ireland who competed a Members of Team Ireland arriving at the Áras.

Issues of doping, alas never far from the Olympic story in recent years, questionable decision-making by referees and judges during the games, and the controversy around the administration of our sports all deserve serious analysis and fearless responses here at home and internationally.Each of these issues, if not adequately addressed, has the potential to undermine public confidence in our athletes, in our sporting administration and in the fairness of international sporting competition itself.

NO FEE ARAS OLYMPIC RECEPTION MX5 President Higgins and Sabina with hockey playing brothers Conor and David Harte from Cork.

President Higgins, who himself was previously President of Galway Utd football club, told the assembled athletes that “sport is historically part of our culture”.

The President noted that Ireland had achieved 14 top 10 finishes in Rio 2016 compared to 8 in London 2012. He namechecked a number of athletes including diver Oliver Dingley, gymnast Ellis O’Reilly and the Irish men’s hockey team.

He also paid a special tribute to Ireland’s medalists, Annalise Murphy in sailing and Paul and Gary O’Donovan in rowing.

The President said that medals act as a great source of encouragement for young people to get involved in sport and are therefore particularly worth highlighting.

PastedImage-39544 Maxwells / Oliver Dingley was welcomed with open arms. Maxwells / /

“The O’Donovan brothers have brought Irish rowing to the world’s attention, and seeing them on the podium collecting their medals was an enormously proud moment for the country, and the authenticity of their commitment to, and pleasure in, competitive rowing was something that lifted hearts all over the world on water and on land,” he said.

28/08/2016. Members of Team Ireland who competed a Photo: Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy. Photo:

The success of Annalise Murphy was another special moment for Irish sport.  We all shared in Annalise’s joy, following her bitter-sweet experience at the London Olympics, and that silver medal was long-awaited and extremely well deserved.  I watched her reception to her own club, and young sailor after young sailor spoke of how she was their exemplar.

NO FEE ARAS OLYMPIC RECEPTION MX3 (1) Ireland's newest Olympic medalist got a big bualadh bos from Sabina Higgins.

Moving on from the medallists, President Higgins said each member of the Irish team should be proud.

“You have also all demonstrated an impressive team spirit as you generously celebrate each other’s achievements, and console each other in your disappointments,” he said.

28/08/2016. Members of Team Ireland who competed a Photo: Minister for Sport Shane Ross arriving at today's reception. Photo:

The President also spoke about the wider message of the Olympic Games saying that it “needs protecting”:

In an age where there is so much division, fear and suspicion between peoples, I believe that the Olympic message of friendship and support, of our common humanity as expressed through sporting endeavour, is more important than ever.

Read: Irish boxers investigated for betting during Olympic Games >

Read: Rio police publish emails between Pat Hickey and THG discussing sale of Ireland’s Olympics tickets >

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