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OCI presidency candidate claims 'five or six' sports federations have colluded ahead of vote

Bernard O’Byrne has attacked the lack of transparency and openness before tomorrow’s ballot.

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

BERNARD O’BYRNE has claimed ‘five or six’ sports federations have colluded in advance of Thursday’s vote to elect the next president of the Olympic Council of Ireland.

O’Byrne, the current Chief Executive of Basketball Ireland, will be on tomorrow’s ballot alongside acting OCI president Willie O’Brien and Swim Ireland’s Sarah Keane.

But speaking to Ger Gilroy on Newstalk’s Off The Ball this evening, O’Byrne painted a picture of a tainted, corrupt process.

“I know there are other deals done in advance of it. I haven’t done any deals. I’ve declared who I’m going to vote for for the officerships”, he said.

Pat Hickey O'Byrne is one of three people in the running to succeed Pat Hickey as OCI president. Source: James Crombie; ©INPHO/James Crombie/INPHO

He was then pressed by Gilroy on what he meant by ‘deals’.

“Five or six federations went into a room and carved up the positions between them, that they were all going to vote for each other. ‘You have the presidency, you have the vice-presidency, you have a place on the Executive’”, O’Byrne said.

I thought that was very bad in terms of openness and transparency because immediately when six people go into a room to do that you’re excluding the other 27. Why on earth would you do that? Why would you not call a general meeting and say, ‘Look, can we have a chat and see what we can work out?’ But, no. It was dark rooms, smoke-filled corridors”.

For legal reasons, O’Byrne would not confirm what federations were present in the room but said such behaviour and those responsible for it were well-known.

“Everybody knows it. One of them that was at the meeting told me. That’s the reason I know. They were actually in the room. That shouldn’t happen. That absolutely shouldn’t happen and I wouldn’t go near it”.

O’Byrne also claimed that he was approached about becoming OCI treasurer as a compromise.

“I was sounded out – did I want the treasurership? It was a very short answer. And it was left at that. ‘We have our preference for presidency, would you like the treasurership?’ – that type of thing. Somebody else might describe that as good electioneering and good tactics. What it isn’t is open and it’s not transparent”.

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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