Horse Racing Ireland appointments spark bitter row

Creed accuses Daly of ‘scurrilous’ remarks after she questions ‘insider’ appointees

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly questioned Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed’s Horse Racing Ireland board appointments. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly questioned Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed’s Horse Racing Ireland board appointments. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

There were bitter exchanges between Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Independents4Change TD Clare Daly in a row over two appointments to the board of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI).

Mr Creed accused the Dublin Fingal TD of making “scurrilous, spurious and unsubstantiated” remarks against two board members after Ms Daly questioned why the Minister appointed “two people with a very developed connection to Coolmore Stud rather than individuals with an independent background”.

Mr Creed said the appointments were made in accordance with the guidelines on State board appointments and the appointees were considered by the Public Appointments Service to meet the detailed criteria for their roles on the board.

He said there were 13 members of the board of HRI, it was constructed to ensure it represented all sectoral interests including workers in the industry, race courses, trainers and owners.

And he claimed the Independents4Change TD cast aspersions on the board’s most recent appointees unfairly and without substantiation.

Policed themselves

Ms Daly insisted no points were made against the individuals but she said wrong practices were taking place and the Minister needed strong people on the board, not “insiders” who policed themselves.

She referred to the 3 per cent foal levy when horses were sold, which meant “small people are being fleeced for the enrichment of HRI while the big boys, who dominate the HRI board and do so now in even greater numbers, are not affected, because the ceiling is set at €30,000”.

Ms Daly also referred to a court case in Naas last week where an owner who had won a case “was met by the top legal establishment, if you like, who was marshalled there by Horse Racing Ireland, to get the decision overturned”.

She added that it was “widely known that foals at a major stud in Kildare are registered in the UK where the fees are lower and an arrangement for a contribution is made to HRI despite the fact that under regulations any foals born in Ireland must be registered in Ireland”.

Mr Creed replied that “the deputy has some form in terms of questioning the outcomes of court proceedings”. He would not “trespass on the findings of the courts” other than to acknowledge the outcome.

The Minister said: “I am absolutely satisfied that the people who were appointed are more than qualified to bring a unique and very valuable set of skills in respect of corporate governance and human resources experience to the board.”