Limerick man's Olympic nightmare expected to end

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh

Limerick man's Olympic nightmare expected to end

Dermot Henihan, secretary general, OCI, outside the Hospital Samaritano Barra in Rio Picture: Sportsfile

A LIMERICK man caught up in the Olympic ticketing scandal in Rio is expected to fly home this Wednesday, the Limerick Leader understands.

Dermot Henihan, the Olympic Council of Ireland’s general secretary, who lives in Lansdowne Park, fell ill on Sunday night after being interviewed by police in Rio de Janeiro, according to sources in Brazil.

It is believed that Mr Henihan, who is closely associated with St Michael’s rowing club, is to be interviewed by Rio police again this Tuesday.

Mr Henihan, had his passport seized during the investigation on Sunday, surrounding the former OCI president Pat Hickey, who was arrested on suspicion of facilitating ticket touting, forming a cartel, and illicit marketing.

He is one of three Olympic Council of Ireland officials to be interviewed by Rio police on Tuesday. The two officials include Kevin Kilty, Ireland's Chef de Mission, and Stephen Martin, chief executive of the OCI.

According to reports, there is nothing to demonstrate any impropriety on the part of these three officials, and no charges have been brought against them.

The former rowing coach, who has been referred to as Limerick’s “Mr Rowing” — for his involvement in transforming the sport in the city since the 1970s — travelled in the police entourage to the Instituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli Endereço, according to a source in Rio de Janeiro.

Friends here have said that it is “obviously a very upsetting and distressing time” for him and family and colleagues in Limerick. 

Well-known author and rowing correspondent with the Limerick Leader for 47 years, Denis O'Shaughnessy said that Mr Henihan deserved the title of “Mr Rowing” in Limerick.

“He was one of those responsible for transforming St Michael's Rowing club from a struggling one to one of the most distinguished in the country, winning their first Irish championship in 1979," he told the Leader.

He added that Mr Henihan worked tirelessly for his club and for the sport generally, was one of the driving forces of Limerick Regatta, and president of the Irish Amateur Rowing Union for many years.

Mr Henihan was deputy Chef de Mission of the Irish Olympic team in Athens 2004, and Chef de Mission at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

While St Michael’s Club would not comment officially, a leading member said that the ongoing investigation in Rio won’t “detract from the feeling of success” with Sinéad Lynch’s and Claire Lambe’s trail to the Olympic final.

“The Olympics has been huge for the club and huge for rowing. Obviously, when people don’t get medals, there is an immediate sense of disappointment. But, overall, to have finalists, and Sinead and Claire coming sixth in the world final is phenomenal.

"And while this is being sorted out and it will be a topic of conversation, I don’t think it will detract from the feeling of success. I don’t think it will impact much,” the club member added.

Irish consulate staff in Rio de Janeiro visited the former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey in prison on Monday evening. According to media reports, he is being held at Bangu Prison after being denied bail by a judge in Rio.

It is also understood that consular staff are working with other OCI officials.