O’Byrne Steps Up for OCI

bernard-obyrneBernard O’Byrne, CEO of Basketball Ireland, is the first ‘outsider’ to publicly declare his candidacy for the Presidency of the Olympic Council of Ireland, nominations for which close today.

O’Byrne has previously been a vocal advocate of improved governance and communication within the organisation.  He was prominent in his views throughout the scandal that engulfed the organisation following the arrest and charges laid against former president Pat Hickey, saying that individual sporting bodies that make up the membership of the Olympic Council deserved better answers with which to defend allegations over integrity.

Read Bernard O’Byrne’s reaction after the Rio scandal of 2016

The Board of Basketball Ireland has formally sanctioned his candidacy and in a letter yesterday to stakeholders within the sport he wrote

The Board of Basketball Ireland last night unanimously nominated me as a candidate in the upcoming election for the Presidency of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).

Whether I win or lose, I am delighted to be put forward for this position and sincerely thank the Board. As we speak there are three very competent other candidates and more may emerge before the closing time of 5 o’clock tomorrow.

Regardless of how the result goes I will, of course, be remaining in my position with Basketball Ireland as the OCI position is a voluntary unpaid one.

Those other candidates include President Willie O’Brien from Archery and likely nominations for Dermot Henihan from Rowing and Sarah Keane from Swim Ireland.

The latter two clashed publicly over the management of the immediate aftermath when Keane was one of the three OCI Executive members forming the Crisis Sub Committee and Henihan publicly highlighted the expenses being accrued from the appointment of professional advisers from Deloitte, Arthur Cox and Grant Thornton to conduct investigations.

O’Brien was a close confidant of Pat Hickey and had been suggested as his successor post the Rio Games as far back as 2015.

The vote on the Presidency and the other positions on the Executive Committee of the OCI will be taken at an EGM in Dublin on the evening of February 9th.

Read our full coverage of the twists and turns in the OCI story since last August

With a small electorate drawn from the 36 affiliate members of the Olympic Council, it promises to be a month of intense lobbying.

O’Byrne has been CEO of Basketball Ireland since 2011 and has also been a key player in international Basketball circles.  The Assembly of the European Governing Body was held in Dublin in 2016 and the U19 Women’s european Championships will be staged her in August 2017.  He was previously the CEO of the Football Association of Ireland and enjoyed a successful business career with CRH and the Mansfield Group.

“I know it will be a tough and difficult road due to genuine root changes which are needed in the OCI operations. These will be difficult to implement but I believe that there is an appetite for change and an appetite to make the OCI more relevant to Irish sport. I’m very enthusiastic about it.”

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