By Irish Echo Staff
The contrast could not have been greater.
Ireland rolled out the welcome mat for Skibbereen rowers and Olympic silver medalists, the O’Donovan Brothers, while the erstwhile head of the country’s Olympic Council languished in a Rio prison.
And while the rowing brothers were being treated as sporting heroes, Pat Hickey was being treated as if he was accused of murder – this according to a solicitor for the Hickey family.
The lawyer, Anne Marie James, said that a murderer in Brazil would not have been treated in the same way as Pat Hickey was when he was arrested.
“Whether you like the man or not, the Department of Foreign Affairs have to represent him,” James told Newstalk Radio’s Pat Kenny Show earlier today.
“Ticket touting is not murder,” she said.
Mr. Hickey was moved from hospital to Rio’s notorious Bangu prison on Wednesday of last week.
When arrested he had informed police that he had a heart condition.
His family have since expressed fears for his overall state of health.
Hickey had been sharing a cell with fellow Irishman Kevin Mallon of the sports entertainment company, THG.
Both face charges related to the alleged illegal sale of Olympic event tickets. Both have denied the allegations.
Mr. Mallon has since been released on bail.
He arrived in a Rio court earlier today to sign on for continued bail. He must do this every fifteen days.
Mallon declined to make any comment, according to Irish newspaper reports.
Mr. Mallon was arrested August 5 and released last Saturday night, August 27.
Mr. Hickey is still in Bangu and yet to appear in court and the solicitor, Ms. James, said in the radio interview that the Hickey family would like Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, to call in the Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland “and let them know we’re watching.”
James said that Brazilian police had “flagrantly abused” the concept of the presumption of innocence.
“The video of his arrest was an attempt to degrade him,” she said, while adding that there was “a huge amount of misinformation” surrounding her client.
Minister Flanagan, in what an Irish Department of Foreign Affairs release described as a response to recent reports “in respect of consular care aspects of Mr. Patrick Hickey’s detention in Rio de Janeiro,” stated earlier today: “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides consular care to Irish citizens who have been arrested or detained overseas. We are currently assisting two Irish citizens detained in Rio de Janeiro.
“In general it is Department policy not to comment in detail publicly on individual consular cases, of which there have been almost 1500 already this year.
“Any Irish citizen who requests or avails of consular assistance is entitled to privacy and confidentiality. However, I wish to make certain points in response to today’s statement from the Hickey family.
““The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing ongoing consular assistance to Mr. Hickey through the Irish Embassy and Consulate in Brazil.
“My officials are in ongoing contact with the family of this citizen and with legal representative acting on his behalf.
“Senior officials of the Department met with Mr. Hickey’s Dublin-based solicitors on Wednesday, 24 August, and discussed the family’s concerns in detail, and explained the Department’s approach to this consular case.
“In general terms, the Department’s focus in cases of arrest or detention of Irish citizens overseas is on a number of specific issues including ensuring that the citizen has access to legal representation, that the citizen is not being discriminated against on the grounds of nationality, and that the host authorities are fulfilling their responsibilities in ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of our detained citizen.
“In this context my officials are in ongoing contact with the Brazilian authorities.
“The Department cannot however provide legal advice or interfere in any way in the judicial processes in another country.
“I have agreed to meet with the Hickey family and arrangements will be made for this meeting to take place in the coming days.
“In the meantime, my Department is continuing to monitor developments in this consular case closely and is continuing to provide all appropriate consular advice and assistance to Mr. Hickey and his family.”