IHRB advertise for two independent board members

Appointments were one of the key recommendations of Oireachtas Joint Committee

Irish racing’s regulator has advertised for two independent voluntary members to serve on its board of directors.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) is looking for a governance director and a finance director to “increase transparency and accountability at board level”.

It comes on the back of a series of key recommendations in an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture Food & Marine report released in November after a series of hearings into anti-doping practices in Ireland.

That report called for a review of the composition of the IHRB board and to address concerns over gender balance as well as a lack of independent membership.

On Tuesday, an IHRB spokesman declined to put a time frame on any appointments.

“The advertisement has just been published so we will look forward to expressions of interest and taking it to the next stage,” he said.

The board of IHRB currently has half a dozen members and has an annual turnover over €5 million. A recent amendment of its constitution allows it to recruit two new people to the board.

The regulator recently announced a new chief executive in Darragh O’Loughlin, who will take up the position at the end of next month.

A key element to the new board roles is that the people appointed have not been “in the past or currently an employee or representative in the industry” and they don’t have “personal ties to the industry or close family connections/involvement in the industry”.

The move comes after a series of Oireachtas Committee hearings last summer which followed claims by leading trainer Jim Bolger about drugs in Irish racing.

Bolger said doping was the sector’s number one problem and that he had no faith in the IHRB’s drug testing.

Bolger was invited to appear before the Committee but declined to do so.

The Committee’s report said there was no evidence to suggest the IHRB’s testing was not up to the highest international standards.

However, it identified transparency as a major issue with the body.

An independent review of Irish racing's anti-doping procedures carried out by the Australian vet Dr Craig Suann reported last month that they "at least match international best practice in most respects and has made significant advances in recent years."

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