When Ireland gained its hard-won independence in 1922, the passion for sport of the Irish people was demonstrated when the Olympic Council of Ireland was immediately founded during the provisional administration prior to the formal establishment of the Irish Free State.
It was quickly recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in time for the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris when the first team in history had the honour of representing an independent Ireland on the world stage.
Since 1989, it has been my great honour and privilege to lead this great Irish sporting institution as president.
During that time, I was so proud to see Olympic medals won by Irish athletes across a diverse range of sports including Athletics, Boxing, Equestrian, Rowing, Sailing and Swimming.
Alongside this, on the international stage in 2012, I was fortunate and proud to be elected the second Irish man in history to sit on the Executive Board of the IOC after my great friend and mentor former OCI and IOC President Lord Killanin.
It is also my privilege to represent Ireland as President of the European Olympic Committees and senior Vice President of the World Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) for the past 10 years.
The benefits to Ireland of these positions were clear with my strong influence that saw women’s Boxing rewarded with its debut into the London 2012 Games with obvious benefits for Ireland not to mention the many Olympic scholarships availed of by Irish athletes in need of financial support for training and competition needs.
During that time, I was delighted to preside over the inaugural European Games in 2015, the last continent of the 5 to organize our own multi-sport games.
While leading on the European level, I was nonetheless thrilled to see medals in Boxing and Badminton for Ireland as well as a 3×3 Basketball team qualifying for their first major games.
I was equally proud to contribute to the development of the European Youth Olympic Festival where the next generation of Irish athletes were given the opportunity to gain vital experience at a continental multi-sport games.
It was always a dream of mine that Ireland might host this event one day and with the ongoing fantastic development of Abbotstown I sincerely hope a future OCI with vision will follow this dream.
Many achievements too, were accomplished off from the field of play including the arrival of the Olympic Torch Relay across the border to Dublin prior to London 2012 Olympic Games and the purchase of a modern building as a proud HQ in Howth for the Olympic movement in Ireland.
These highlights were accomplished in addition to leaving a positive bank balance of €2.3m last July and an enviable list of corporate sponsors which I had envisaged would be used on the ongoing development of young athletes and Olympic sport in Ireland.
Naturally, I share the achievements with all my fellow voluntary members of the Executive Committee and you the National Federations who have steadfastly supported me over many years.
As you will remember, at the beginning of 2016 I announced that Rio would be my last Games as president and that I would stand down immediately after the Games.
Accordingly, the time has now come to pass the Irish Olympic Torch to a new generation and I wish nothing but the best of luck and success to the new President, officers and Executive Committee of the OCI.
From a personal point of view I am presently recovering from a recent medical procedure on my heart.
For this reason, I am sad to say I will not attend the EGM to say my personal farewell and thanks to you and my many colleagues and friends in the National Federations.
I have nothing but the highest regard for the tireless work you do every day, week and month to develop and promote your sport in Ireland.
However, please be assured this will be done soon at the appropriate moment.
I would like to sincerely thank my wife Sylviane for supporting and standing by me through thick and thin over this lifetime of voluntary service and my 4 children who have had to put up with my many absences over the years while serving my Olympic duties.
I would also like to thank the small team of professional staff in the OCI who have always gone far beyond the call of duty to ensure the needs of the athletes, coaches, managers and support staff are always met.
It has been my absolute honour and privilege to serve my country and one I am very humbled and grateful for.
Thank you to everyone who shared my journey and who made it possible.