Republic of Ireland news

Olympic Council of Ireland ‘facilitated' hospitality tickets

Ireland's Olympic secretary general Dermot Henihan at police headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture by Leo Correa, Associated Press 
Staff Reporter

POLICE in Brazil have said the Olympic Council of Ireland facilitated the transfer of Olympic tickets to a hospitality company.

At a news conference on Tuesday, investigators said former OCI president Pat Hickey and Marcus Evans, owner of the The Hospitality Group (THG), had exchanged emails discussing tickets as far back as 2010 and were in email contact as recently as August 3.

Mr Hickey was arrested last week by Brazilian police investigating allegations of the illegal sale of tickets for the Olympic Games.

THG executive Kevin Mallon was also arrested. The pair are being held together in a Rio jail.

Two officials from the OCI are due to be questioned by police in Rio this week about the alleged illegal sale.

Official Dermot Henihan was interviewed on Tuesday and is free to leave Brazil.

Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin, from Bangor, Co Down, are still to be interviewed.

Meanwhile, Mr Hickey may not appear before a Brazilian court for days, officials from the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice have said.

Regular courts were in recess during the games, leading to a backlog of around 800 cases.

Once distributed to a court, a judge must decide whether or not to accept Mr Hickey's case laid out by public prosecutors.

If the judge rejects the case, it goes no further, and Mr Hickey would be free to leave Brazil.

If the judge decides to accept the case, it is believed that there could be a further wait of up to one month before any case is heard.

Mr Hickey has temporarily stood aside from his role as Olympic Council of Ireland president following the controversy.

Earlier, lawyers for Mr Hickey issued a statement about his arrest saying that contrary to police reports he did not try to escape when officers arrived at his hotel and did not try to resist arrest.

They said that due to insomnia, Mr Hickey was using one of three rooms allocated to him and his family.

The lawyers said that his wife was taken by surprise when officers arrived at her door and panicked.

An independent inquiry into the alleged ticketing scandal is to be set up in the Republic. A retired Irish judge is to be appointed to lead the inquiry.

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