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Coveney to proceed with Implementation of Indecon Report Recommendations

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced his general acceptance of the recommendations of the Indecon Report on the ‘Review of certain aspects of the Irish Horse Racing Industry’.

The Minister said “The Irish Horse Racing industry is a flag-bearer for this country. It is an industry in which we excel on the worldwide stage. This report confirms the importance and potential of the Irish Horse Racing Industry and affirms that with appropriate policies and structures in place the sector can contribute to the economic and social development of the country and to the expansion of employment”.

Minister Coveney said that implementation of the recommendations would provide a more sustainable basis for the development of the sector and stressed the importance of all stakeholders working together to ensure Ireland retains its world leading position in thoroughbred breeding and racing. The Minister noted Indecon’s support of "additional and sustainable funding for the development of the sector, but this must be accompanied by an equal priority to maximise efficiency, effectiveness and value for money".

Minister Coveney said "The report makes some 37 recommendations and I intend to proceed as follows in addressing those recommendations:

Funding

  • The report identifies the need to introduce measures to secure a significant increase in taxation from the betting sector. The Government has already published a Bill to amend the Betting Act 1931 which will provide for the extension of betting duty to online and remote betting. I will pursue the report’s recommendations on the application of the betting duty extension with my colleague, the Minister for Finance.
  • I accept the report’s conclusion that the industry requires sufficient funding to ensure prize money is sufficient to attract top quality bloodstock and racing, finance the integrity services and also the industry’s infrastructure. In this connection I am considering how a multi-annual commitment to funding could be provided given the pressure currently on the Exchequer and taking cognisance also of the Indecon view that ‘there is also a need to focus on maximising sponsorship and commercial income’ a view we all share in the current climate when the need is greater than ever before to derive efficient use from scarce public resources. I also accept the recommendation that a value for money review of HRI should be undertaken in due course.

Streamlining/Efficiency of Functions

  • I have asked the Turf Club and HRI to immediately establish a Joint HRI/Turf Club Implementation Task Force, as recommended in the report to address the opportunities for integration of functions, including shared services, with a view to achieving greater efficiencies and to achieve a minimum of 10% reduction in costs as identified in the report. My Department will also be represented on this task force and the Minister would expect the group to complete its work within the next two months.  

Board structure

  • On board structure I accept in general the recommendations regarding its structure and composition as well as the necessity for two additional statutory sub-committees. However, I intend to allow the two new statutory-sub committees, representing the betting sector and jockeys, stable workers and others employed in the industry, to each nominate a representative to the main Board.
  • In addition to the Chairman, the Board will therefore comprise of 3 public interest directors, 3 members of the Turf Club, 1 representative of racehorse owners, racehorse breeders, racehorse trainers and authorised racecourses as well as the 2 nominees from the new statutory committees.
Marketing
  • The Minister added that he expected HRI to proceed with implementing the recommendations on strategic marketing and believes that there is tremendous potential to enhance the marketing effort for the benefit of the horse racing sector and generally of the image of Ireland through horse racing.

 

Chairman

Minister Coveney said he intends to bring forward the legislative changes where necessary to implement the recommendations and update the Horse Racing legislation. He also intends to announce the nomination of a new Chair of HRI by the end of November but he has asked the current Chairman Mr Denis Brosnan to remain in his position until the required new legislation is finalised (February 2013). "I believe this arrangement will ensure a seamless transition from chair to chair as well as allowing implementation of the changes identified by Indecon", said Minister Coveney.

The Minister concluded by pointing out that “the Irish bloodstock industry is of enormous economic benefit to this country. It is estimated the industry provides in excess of 17,350 jobs, almost €1bn in economic output and exports worth some €157m to 35 countries in 2011.  Ireland is the fourth largest breeder of thoroughbreds in the world. In excess of 40% of the EU output of thoroughbreds and 11% of the total worldwide are produced in Ireland. The World Thoroughbred Rankings show that 6 of the top 10 two-year-olds in the world in 2011 were Irish-trained. I wish to confirm this Government’s full commitment to maximising the potential of the horseracing industry, I believe that following through in the manner I have outlined is key to the future success of this blue riband industry and I will do my upmost to ensure that all the key industry stakeholders work together with my Department to bring about the necessary changes and put in place the required infrastructure to nurture the future growth and development of the sector".

Notes for editors

The study undertaken by Indecon considered inter alia legislation, governance structures, funding and management of the industry in Ireland. It is available on the Department’s website.  Please click here

Date Released: 19 October 2012