Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 17 July 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
Business of Joint Committee (Resumed)
Before we commence the main business of today's proceedings I wish to turn to some housekeeping matters. The minutes of the meeting of 10 July have been circulated. Are there any matters arising? No matters arise. Are the minutes agreed? Agreed?
The correspondence will be recorded as read into the minutes. Correspondence 2019/504 is an email from Mary Daly, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport concerning the future reappointment of Ms Rose Hynes as chairperson designate of the Shannon Group. It is proposed to schedule this meeting after the summer recess. Is that agreed? Agreed.
Correspondence 2019/505 is correspondence from me. I forwarded the correspondence I received last night from Mr. Donal Conway, president of the Football Association of Ireland. It provides an update on the current position regarding the governance of the FAI. In the interests of transparency I wish to note that I received a telephone call last Sunday from the FAI asking whether I would be prepared to receive a private briefing from Mr. Conway about the issues in respect of the FAI view on the reports. My answer was that would be unacceptable and there was no way in which any communication could, should or would happen without the full knowledge of the committee in full public meeting. That is what we have today. I offered him the opportunity to come before the committee, either today, tomorrow, Friday or any day next week before the annual general meeting to clarify the issue. Subsequently a letter arrived in which Mr. Conway said that, provided he is still president, which is the issue, the FAI will come in after the AGM. That is what that correspondence says and that is the origin of it. If anyone has any comment on it that is fine, otherwise I can move onto the next item. If committee members wish to comment on any of these issues the best place to do it may be when they make contributions. I trust committee members are happy with that.
Correspondence 2019/506 is correspondence sent to Donal Conway from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross. That is the Minister's letter. All committee members have a copy of it. It was sent yesterday.
I received the next item of correspondence yesterday. It is on behalf of the Soccer Writers Association of Ireland and the Association of Sports Journalists in Ireland.
They have written to the FAI to seek admission for their members to its Saturday EGM. They asked me to raise this here and with Sport Ireland as an issue of concern. I ask the delegates to carry the message strongly to the FAI that it is wrong not to admit those concerned. The only reason we are meeting in the first place is because of the efforts of journalists who exposed all the issues regarding the moneys and other matters. In the interest of transparency and the accountability of the FAI, it is right and proper that sports journalists be able to attend the EGM and report verbatim on its due process.
In addition to asking Sport Ireland to do that, the Chairman should, on behalf of this committee, write to the FAI stating it is a requirement. The lack of permission to ask questions and have them answered at AGMs is a long-standing problem that must be addressed if we are to have confidence in the governance of the FAI. It is not down to Oireachtas scrutiny but a matter of allowing people to do their job. Journalists have a job to do. Would we have come to this precipice had they been allowed to do their job over the years? It would be utterly unacceptable for them not to be included and allowed to do their job.