General Scheme of Horse Racing Ireland Bill 16.9.14

General Scheme of Horse Racing Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014: Discussion (Continued)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator Mary Ann O'Brien: Information on Senator Mary Ann O'Brien Zoom on Senator Mary Ann O'BrienI would like to hear some comments about the past and plans for the future. We can speak about having the best horses in the world but we also must have the best facilities. This is the headquarters and I want to hear more about what happened.

I also ask for comment on the patent committee and the views of the witnesses on the heads of the Bill and working together with HRI. In an international context, such collaboration has been successful in the past. The chairman of HRI spoke about the derby earlier this year because the French changed one of the fixtures that stopped international runners coming to our derby. It is important that we get that right.

Deputy Tom BarryInformation on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry With regard to the arbitration approach, I presume further reform would involve addressing the length of time involved. What type of arbitration would the witnesses like to see? Is funding from HRI provided on a monthly or a weekly basis and is it accompanied by any provisos? With regard to rules and regulations in the industry, if registration is carried out by HRI, are there experts in that organisation similar to those available to the Turf Club and are they competent in this area?

In Cork we have a buoyant point-to-point structure which works very well. Would these changes hinder the development of that structure? I recognise that considerable goodwill exists at present but I know from the people involved in the committees that they do not have a huge amount of money. I am concerned that there might be an impact on the success these events currently enjoy.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor The witnesses made a number of interesting points, which can be boiled down to two simple issues, namely, funding and integrity. The big issue for me is integrity of the racing industry. The last thing we want is the situation which arose in the UK in regard to doping and one of the main owners and breeders in that country. There were fears that the integrity of the racing industry might be damaged as a result.

It is important that promotional bodies, such as Bord Bia, and health and safety governance are separate. When HIQA goes into a hospital, the management of the hospital is fearful. The Irish racing industry is worth €1.1 billion and we must ensure adequate integrity and international confidence in our ability to run a proper industry. We cannot allow a situation whereby someone who pays the integrity body is able to define the rules and regulations to be applied. The integrity body would lose its independence if that were to happen. In regard to integrity, would it be necessary to go cap in hand to HRI in order to get additional funding for an investigation into something that might have a detrimental impact on the racing industry?