Horse Racing Ireland ‘appalled’ by findings of investigation into treatment of horses

The programme examined Irish and European horse industries

Horse Racing Ireland says it is “appalled” by the findings of a recent RTÉ investigation. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Horse Racing Ireland is “appalled” by the findings of a recent RTÉ investigation, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

The investigation was broadcast RTÉ One last week examining the Irish and European horse industries, concerning the treatment of horses that are being sent for slaughter at the country’s only licensed equine abattoir.

The programme revealed scenes of “shocking and appalling” animal cruelty and evidence of identity falsification of horses with microchips and fake passports.

Speaking to the Oireachtas public accounts committee on Friday, Suzanne Eade, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said the organisation was “deeply disgusted and appalled” at findings of the exposé.

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The Department of Agriculture said a full investigation has been under way for a number of weeks following contact by RTÉ with the Department of Agriculture, and An Garda Síochána “are taking the appropriate action as well”.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said the Government “unreservedly condemns the scenes that we witnessed and the full forces of the law will be applied, where breaches are proven in a court of law”.

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At the public accounts committee on Friday, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy told the Oireachtas that Horse Racing Ireland received €70.4 million in State funding in 2022. HRI recorded a €5.7 million deficit in 2022.

Mr McCarthy noted a financial governance issue regarding a €350,000 transaction from the Jockeys Emergency Fund, a charity fund for jockeys, into the bank account of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB). The transfer, made in January 2022, was repaid in April 2022.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board was made aware of the transaction in June 2023, and subsequently informed the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

Following this, Mazars were commissioned to carry out an independent review into financial governance at the IHRB.

The committee heard that the findings of the review will be published shortly.

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Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist