Latest: Sport Ireland to tell Oireachtas full FAI audit necessary

John Delaney pictured leaving the Carlton Hotel near Dublin Airport this evening. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Irish Examiner Political Correspondent

Update 5.10pm: Sport Ireland is set to tell the Oireachtas sports committee that a full audit of the FAI is necessary before funding will be restored.

It follows weeks of controversy for the Association after issues of governance and finances came to light.

The controversy led to Sport Ireland pulling funding from the association.

CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport Mary O'Connor says organisations receiving funding know the rules they have to adhere to.

"Any national governing body that is receiving funding from the government knows from Sport Ireland what the rules and regulations are," said Ms O'Connor.

Meanwhile, John Delaney made no comment as he left an FAI board meeting at a Dublin hotel this afternoon.

The meeting on the future of the former CEO and possible changes to the board has been taking place all day.

More as we get it.

- Additional reporting by Digital Desk

John Delaney
John Delaney

Update 1.30pm: The chairman of the Oireachtas sports committee examining the FAI's financial crisis says a "forensic audit" by an independent group is "the only clear way" to get to the bottom of the sporting scandal.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd said his "personal" view is that the forensic audit of all FAI accounts and spending in recent years must happen regardless of whether John Delaney and other board members remain in place.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner on Monday just 24 hours after the Sunday Times revealed that Mr Delaney spent €40,000 on the FAI credit card in the last six months of 2016, Mr O Dowd said there are legitimate spending concerns.

And, coming after revelations about Mr Delaney's €100,000 loan to the FAI; last week's sports committee stand-off; and Sports Minister Shane Ross warning that the FAI will be blocked from accessing millions of euro in future funding if answers are not provided, Mr O'Dowd said a forensic audit is now needed.

"We are still awaiting the statement from the FAI today, and from the Minister and [Sport Ireland chief executive] John Treacy at the committee on Tuesday. But we need to get all the information we possibly can. My own personal view is a forensic audit is the only clear way to get the answers we need.

"The Mazars audit is taking place, but the issue with that is we still don't know its terms of reference, and while Mazars does excellent work it was appointed by and paid for by the FAI. An external, independent auditor would not be paid by the FAI," he said.

Asked if Sport Ireland and Government should consider a wider review of all sporting groups funded by the taxpayer to ensure public money is spent as expected, Mr O Dowd said: "Yes, a review is always welcome, and it's always of use to update transparency policies."

Fergus O
Fergus O'Dowd

Mr O Dowd was speaking before the FAI board meets this afternoon to decide the fate of ex-chief executive and current executive vice-president John Delaney.

It has been reported he and other FAI board members may step down from the organisation in light of a series of financial revelations, including Mr Delaney's €100,000 FAI loan and last week's sports committee stand-off.

Speculation has been growing in recent days that the Government may announce an independent investigation into what has happened after the move was hinted at by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press briefing in Midleton, Co Cork, on Friday, and Sports Minister Shane Ross's weekend funding threats.

Meanwhile, speaking on RTE Radio's Today With Sean O Rourke programme, Fianna Fáil transport spokesman and sports committee member, Robert Troy, said he believes it is "agreed across the political spectrum" that the entire FAI board should quit.

Mr Troy said it is "very disappointing" how long it has taken the FAI to respond with clear answers on the crisis, and noted the fact the FAI has yet to support the sports committee with written answers to specific questions promised last week and due on Monday.

Mr Troy later told the Irish Examiner that his "across the political spectrum" comment is not based on any behind-the-scenes agreement among politicians, but on public comments from all political parties.

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