HRI says horse movements threatened by no-deal Brexit
The only border inspection posts for horses are at Dublin and Shannon airports
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh. Mr Kavanagh has said there are no border inspection points for equines at any of the Irish seaports. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
A nightmare scenario in which a no-deal Brexit effectively brings the movement of horses between Ireland and the UK to a stop has been outlined by Irish racing’s ruling body.
Growing political uncertainty in Westminster appears to have put the possibility of Britain crashing out of the European Union back on the table with potentially disastrous results for the thoroughbred industry here.
Should there be no deal, and in the absence of the tripartite agreement which has traditionally allowed freedom of movement between Ireland, Britain and France, horses moving from the UK to Ireland would have to be flown into this country.
“Horses moving in and out of the EU must go through a border inspection post. The only two border inspection posts in Ireland at the moment are at Dublin and Shannon airports,” Horse Racing Ireland’s (HRI) chief executive Brian Kavanagh said on Monday.
“So it [a no-deal Brexit] would mean every horse coming into Ireland from the UK, whether for a race, or a sale or anything like that, would have to be flown to those two points. There are no border inspection points for equines at any of the seaports.
“In the absence of the current tripartite agreement, and in the event of their not being a deal between Britain and the EU, and because Britain would be a third country, a horse would have to go through an area where it could be inspected by a veterinary officer, where it could be checked for identification, and, if necessary, veterinary status.
“The only two ports of entry that are equipped to do that at the moment are Dublin airport and Shannon airport as they are both designated border inspection posts.”
The possible extreme impact of that was outlined by Kavanagh, who said: “In theory that could mean a horse that has run in a point-to-point in the North, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, having to get a ferry across to Scotland and then coming back by air into Dublin or Shannon.
“That’s just not workable. The reality is if Britain crashed out horse movement would stop. That’s a bigger problem for the UK than here because they require Irish-sourced horses to fill their race programme.”
The Horse Racing Ireland boss added that he believed fears of a no-deal Brexit have receded somewhat due to proposed amendments to any withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons. However, deep unease remains in Irish racing about the current political uncertainty in London.
Animal health law
Proposals to the European Commission from racing authorities in Ireland, Britain and France that would see the tripartite agreement replaced with new EU animal health law allowing freedom of movement through a new “high health” categorisation for thoroughbreds depend on the political situation stabilising.
“The signals [from the EU] are reasonably positive. But they’re only positive in the context of being part of our future trading relationship, and these negotiations can only take place when the withdrawal issue has been settled.
“The submissions we’ve put in have been well received, but that counts for nothing if the higher politics don’t get sorted,” Kavanagh said.