Morgan Treacy/INPHO Roy Barrett.
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FAI Chairperson Barrett hits back at comments made in Dáil by Fianna Fáil TD
Deputy Marc MacSharry questioned the FAI Chair’s authority to sign off on the terms of the government bailout in January.

FAI CHAIRPERSON ROY Barrett has issued a strong rebuke to Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry over comments made in the Dáil on Thursday. 

Deputy MacSharry questioned Barrett’s authority to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government to secure a State bailout of the football body earlier this year.

Barrett issued a response via a personal statement issued through the FAI late on Thursday night, taking objection at comments made by MacSharry under parliamentary privilege. 

“It is respectfully suggested that Deputy MacSharry checks his facts before he next decides to use Dail privilege”, wrote Barrett, citing a resolution passed by 60 votes to nil by the FAI Council on 16 March giving the FAI Board permission to pursue funding arrangements with the government and Bank of Ireland. Barrett also clarified that no funds were drawn prior to this vote being passed by Council. 

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan reasserted the new government’s position that the FAI must convene an EGM to pass the rule changes contained within the MOU to receive the funds agreed in January’s bailout. 

“If these rule changes are not implemented, Sport Ireland will be unable to disperse any funds to the FAI including the Covid-19 support funding approved by the government last month”, said Ryan. 

“The FAI has been in a financial crisis the likes of which has never been faced by an Irish sporting body. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by Shane Ross and Roy Barrett was a very important and necessary measure”.

Two of the terms of that MOU are causing controversy in football circles: that the board be changed to compose six independent directors and six elected from football constituencies, and that FAI Council members with more than 10 years’ service stand down at the next AGM. 

A number of  people on Council have raised their objections to these rules, with Leinster FA representative James Kelly writing to fellow members this week warning that the change to the board’s composition represented  “a ticking time bomb” which threatened the FAI’s “sovereignty.” 

Last month, another member, Nixon Morton, claimed to be writing on behalf of a number of members in raising these concerns with Uefa and Fifa. 

MacSharry was critical of the proposed change to the board, too, calling it “absurd.” 

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