David Walsh: We need more transparency from Olympic Council of Ireland

The Sunday Times journalist spoke to Talking Point about the arrest of Pat Hickey

Pat Hickey, OCI, Ireland,

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

The Government is being urged to give an inquiry into ticketing at the Olympics the power to compel witnesses in the wake of the arrest of Pat Hickey.

Sports Minister Shane Ross yesterday revealed that a retired judge will head a non-statutory inquiry into the controversy, and that he hopes the process will be complete within 12 weeks.

However, Sinn Fein's spokesperson on Sport, Imelda Munster, says that a non-statutory inquiry "doesn't go far enough."

Speaking on Newstalk's Talking Point, Sports Journalist with The Sunday Times David Walsh said that the conditions in the prison system in Brazil where Hickey is being held are not particularly pleasant.

"They say that pretty much all prisons in Brazil are overcrowded to the extent of maybe, 30% more people than the capacity should allow, so it's not a place that you really want to be."

Walsh also noted that there were some similarities between this case and a number of arrests made during the World Cup in Brazil, which may give some indication of the outcome that awaits. 

"I think people familiar with the police system in Brazil have seen plenty of instances where an investigation is started by officers at a certain level, and then people at a higher level come along, who maybe have been given instructions by people in higher places, and suddenly the case gets dropped. That happens here quite a lot.

"I spoke to some Brazilians who are pretty familiar with the system, and their view was that this could be something that could just disappear after the Games have ended."

Walsh concluded that the situation comes at a difficult time for authorities in Brazil, and that the legacy of the Games for the people of Rio will be a huge expense that has to be paid back.

"The Games haven't been an entirely joyous experience for the Brazilian people, especially the people in Rio de Janiero. They have witnessed a huge expenditure on a sporting festival that really lasts two weeks."

Looking to the future, Walsh said that he hoped that there would be a thorough look at the Olympic Council and a demand for more transparency, no matter what happens in Brazil.

"What I would hope is that there would be some way of looking at what the OCI has been doing for many, many years and how it conducts its business, because what you don't get from the OCI is a huge amount of transparency."