The Football Association of Ireland has declined a request to attend the Oireachtas Sports Committee tomorrow to discuss its finances and governance.
FAI representatives had been due to join senior officials from Sport Ireland as well as Sports Ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin at a hearing before TDs and Senators tomorrow morning.
However, the Company Secretary of the FAI Rea Walshe this afternoon told the committee how the association's representatives won't be making a trip to Leintser House tomorrow after all.
In a letter to the Clerk of the Committee, seen by RTE, Ms Walshe said FAI officials needed to focus exclusively on the association's troubled finances as well as promised governance reforms.
The @FAIreland has declined to attend a meeting of the Oireachtas sports committee tomorrow which was due to discuss the ongoing financial issues at the organisation.— Fiachra Ó Cionnaith (@Ocionnaith) December 17, 2019
See @rtenews shortly for the full story. pic.twitter.com/JplZVMjEaa
"We had an open and honest meeting at Leinster House yesterday with Ministers Ross and Griffin," Ms. Walshe wrote
"As stressed after that meeting the immediate focus of the Board must be on the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI's financial future and the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and three Independent Directors," she said.
"At this moment in time, this requires the undivided attention of the Board of the Association and key management, it is for this reason that the Association is regretfully not in a position to appear before the Joint Committee, tomorrow Wednesday, 18 December.
"As soon as the measures outlined above are complete, the Board will welcome the opportunity to appear before the Committee at a time that suits your members."
Earlier this month, the FAI had said it would be happy to meet the Oireachtas Sports Committee after publishing its annual accounts - which showed current net liabilities of €55m.
The Taoiseach has said the public can be reassured that taxpayers money given to the FAI was used for the purpose intended for the likes of participation and tackling racism in the sport.
Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that an independent audit into the association confirms that public money was not misappropriated.
He was responding to Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy who asked during Leader's Questions if it is good governance that corporate organisations are audited by the same auditor over and over again.
Deloitte were the FAI's external auditors for 23 years.
Deputy Murphy said, "Financial information which was published recently during the unfolding of the FAI saga showed some startling adjustments to the FAI accounts.
"In 2016 for example an orginally reported profit was adjusted from 2.344 million to just 66 thousand euro. In 2017, a profit in the accounts of 2.8 million was adjusted to the point that it ended up being a loss of 2 million in their accounts."
Deputy Murphy said it begs the question, "would the FAI have managed to secure the tax clearance certificate they needed to access government grants which are paid on foot of a tax clearance certificate in addition to audited accounts?"
Catherine Murphy called for a system whereby organisations are required to show evidence of audit rotation with inbuilt time limits for each audit period before a rotation is required.
"I think that's something Sport Ireland and other public bodies should examine as a condition of getting government grant aid, that auditors are rotated after a period of time." Deputy Murphy said.
The Taoiseach said Sport Ireland and other public bodies should examine as to whether it is made a condition of government grant that auditors are rotated after a period of time.
Mr Varadkar said the same should be applied to board members.
He told said, "Minister Shane Ross believes the most urgent priority now by the FAI should be the appointment of 4 independent directors and it must move quickly to appoint a new chief executive."
Report by Barry Lenihan with additional reporting by Sharon Lynch