Dáil debates

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

3:05 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy. I do not want to cast aspersions on any particular audit firm, nor on the many thousands of very good people who work in that particular firm, but I do think the Deputy has asked a good question and makes a very good point. It is a principle of good corporate governance that organisations should not be audited by the same people forever and ever and ever again. It is certainly something that Sport Ireland and other public bodies should examine as to whether it is made a condition of Government grant aid that auditors are rotated after a period of time.

The same applies to board members. We often see a situation in a lot of organisations that we fund, whether charities, sporting bodies or local taskforces, that the same people are on the board for ten, 20 or 25 years and this is not good corporate governance either. There should be a rotation of board members too. They are definitely areas where the Government could be more active in requiring turnover of auditors and turnover of board members as a condition of funding in future.

With regard to the independent audit being done, it was provided to Sport Ireland and the Minister and has been passed on to An Garda Síochána. The Office of the Director for Corporate Enforcement has also been notified. The purpose of the audit was to get a clearer picture of the financial and governance issues in the FAI and to chart a course for the association to deal with the serious failings in order to restore confidence in public funding to football in Ireland. The board of Sport Ireland considered the report on 27 November and welcomed that the audit found that State funding given to the FAI was expended for the purposes it was given.

That is an important point. We should reassure taxpayers and the public that the taxpayers' money that was given to the FAI was used for the purpose intended, including participation, anti-racism, women in sport and all the other things that Government funds. The independent audit confirms that public money was not misappropriated.

The Sport Ireland board approved the establishment of a liaison group between Sport Ireland and the FAI to prepare and agree a detailed implementation plan for all of the recommendations of the KOSI report. The board will continue to monitor the progress of reform in the FAI and Sport Ireland will continue to support the association to take the necessary steps to restore public confidence. The Minister, Deputy Ross, and the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, believe the most urgent priority now for the FAI should be the appointment of four independent directors, new faces sitting around the top table of Irish football. Therefore, it is important that the board, under the leadership of the independent chairperson, moves quickly to fill the CEO vacancy and to satisfy the concerns of all stakeholders that the new CEO should be independent of any current or previous involvement with the FAI.

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