Shane Ross has insisted the new Football Association of Ireland chief executive must be "completely independent of any present or previous involvement with the FAI."

The Minister for Sport released a statement in response to the decision of John Foley, the former CEO of Athletics Ireland, to turn down the role of interim FAI chief executive. 

Mr. Foley had originally agreed to replace Noel Mooney, whose period at the helm ended at the weekend. He was expected to address staff in Abbotstown this morning but decided, at the eleventh hour, not to take up the role, citing a lack of support for his appointment from "key stakeholders". 

In a statement released this evening, Minister for Sport Ross and the Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin stressed that the most important task at hand for the FAI was the appointment of four independent directors. 

"Ministers Ross and Griffin believe the most urgent priority for the FAI should be the appointment of the four independent directors.

"Thereafter, it is important that the Board, under the leadership of the independent Chairperson, moves quickly to fill the CEO vacancy. To satisfy the concerns of all stakeholders, the new CEO should be completely independent of any present or previous involvement with the FAI.

"The FAI's reform agenda needs to be strongly led in a manner that allows normality to return to football in Ireland as quickly as possible. The restoration of government funding can only follow such reform."

Foley told RTÉ Sport this morning that he didn't believe the level of support for his appointment among key stakeholders was sufficient for him properly grapple with the challenges facing the FAI. 

In a statement released this morning, the FAI said they regretted Foley's decision to decline the role, stressing that based on their "dealings with John, his suitability for the role was beyond question and the level of professionalism and clarity he could bring to the Association would have been invaluable."

Earlier this evening, Fergus O'Dowd, the chair of the Oireachtas Transport and Sport Committee, told RTÉ it was vital the FAI brought "order to this chaos", while PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly said the news had left the FAI "rudderless".