Olympic Council of Ireland: Sarah Keane wins presidency vote to succeed Pat Hickey

OCI presidency candidates Willie O'Brien, Sarah Keane and Bernard O'Byrne
Sarah Keane (centre) defeated Willie O'Brien (left) and Bernard O'Byrne to become new OCI president

Swim Ireland chief Sarah Keane has been elected to succeed Pat Hickey as Olympic Council of Ireland president.

Keane received 29 votes, acting president Willie O'Brien got 12, and Basketball Ireland's Bernard O'Byrne won two votes.

The OCI election was required after previous president Pat Hickey stood down following 28 years in charge.

Hickey was arrested in Rio during last year's Olympics in an investigation into illegal ticket sales.

Dubliner Hickey, 71, was allowed to return home to Ireland in December on medical grounds after the the umbrella group for Olympic committees throughout the world agreed to pay his bail of just under £330,000.

Pat Hickey
Pat Hickey had been OCI president since 1989

Hickey maintains innocence

Hickey, who was also president of the European Olympic committees before his arrest in Brazil last August, has said he is "totally innocent" of the charges levelled at him by the Brazilian police.

After Hickey stepped down from the role, OCI vice-president O'Brien, 68, became the organisation's acting president.

O'Brien, a close associate of Hickey's, was regarded as the continuity candidate. Swim Ireland chief executive Keane, 43, served on the OCI's council for two years and former Football Association of Ireland chief executive O'Byrne, 62, portrayed himself as the change candidate.

The OCI's 34 member federations and members of the governing body's council voted to choose Hickey's successor.

Earlier this week, Hickey released a statement saying he would have "no role" in Thursday's vote and that he would not be able to attend the gathering following a recent medical procedure on his heart.

Rio review cost OCI over £765,000

Thursday's meeting at the Conrad Hotel in Dublin also heard that an independent review into the ticketing controversy at last year's events in Rio cost the OCI more than £765,000.

"Decisions were made that cost the OCI in excess of €800,000 and for most of those things there are no insurance," said the OCI's general secretary Dermot Henihan.

"There has been a lot of inaccurate speculation, people jumped to conclusions and it resulted in a lot of cost to the OCI."

Honorary treasurer Billy Kennedy later revealed that the independent review had cost €900,688 [£768,000] of which approximately €90,000 had been recovered from their insurers.

Henihan also paid tribute to Hickey's service to the OCI.

"The OCI under Pat Hickey has become a more professional organisation. When he started we were working off the kitchen table and going to members' houses for meetings.

"Pat cannot be here tonight because he has recently undergone an operation and as far as I am concerned he is a great part of the OCI and it will always be part of him. Thank you Pat for your efforts."

The new president said she felt "humbled and privileged" to have won the vote.

"I am grateful for the support and confidence shown to me by the Olympic sports federations and I look forward to working with them, the other newly elected officers and executive committee members to reform and rebuild the OCI after what has been a very difficult few months for the Olympic movement in Ireland," she added.

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