Sinn Féin spokesperson on Sport Chris Andrews TD and Senator Paul Gavan today called on Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to ensure the current investigation into the FAI is fully resourced.
The Tánaiste was answering questions around the resourcing for a new Corporate Enforcement Agency at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment today. The new agency will take over from the Office of the Directorate for Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
Senator Gavan referred to the 280,000 data files associated with the investigation, and cited the request from the Office of the Directorate for Corporate Enforcement for five additional staff to assist in the examination of documents seized from the FAI over which claims of legal privilege are made.
Speaking today, Teachta Andrews said:
“Decades of mismanagement of the FAI, particularly during John Delaney’s tenure in charge, have been exposed in recent years thanks to the media. But many more serious questions remain to be answered, and people need to be held to account.
“Irish football is suffering because of that mismanagement. The Association is crippled financially and will be counting the cost for years to come. That has ramifications at all levels of football across the state.
“People involved in grassroots football have been let down by the people running the sport. They are understandably disillusioned, and want to see transparency and accountability.
“The government owes it to the footballers, coaches, volunteers, and all involved in the game, to do all it can to fully resource this investigation, so that it has the tools to get to the bottom of what went on.”
Senator Gavan said:
“I asked the Tánaiste if he could assure us that adequate resources will be allocated to the investigation so as to ensure that we do not end up with another debacle like that of ODCE v Sean Fitzpatrick that occurred in 2017.
“It is extremely worrying that the planned additional increase in funding for this year is just €300,000 for the ODCE. I put it to the Tánaiste that he is the line head for the Department that oversees the ODCE and asked would he commit to hire the five additional staff needed.
“In response, the Tánaiste avoided making a specific commitment.
“The ODCE has been seriously under-resourced for years and the government’s current plans do not provide for the sort of staffing ramp-up that an investigation of this size and scale requires.
“The Tánaiste himself conceded that more resources would be needed for the new agency beyond the current plans.
“But it appears that this Department, which is tasked with investigating so-called white-collar crime across a whole range of areas will remain seriously short of resources for some time to come.
“The government needs to make a much larger commitment to tackling economic crime in general, and specifically needs to ensure adequate resources are allocated to the FAI investigation.”