HRI board backs Keeling over claims he 'misled' ministers
Horse Racing Ireland's board has denied that chairman Joe Keeling "intentionally misled" the Government over Brian Kavanagh's appointment as CEO for a third term at an EGM yesterday.
What was said to be "a frank discussion" took place for about two hours, much of it spent agreeing a statement which defended embattled chairman Keeling. Keeling is set to be asked to appear soon before an Agriculture Committee in the Dáil.
Keeling looked for his board's backing yesterday after serious questions were asked in recent weeks over his lobbying of the government. Keeling asked Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Public Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe to give Kavanagh a third term, which is contrary to government guidelines on semi-state CEOs.
Minister Creed believed Keeling was acting on behalf of the board but it has emerged that the board was not aware of the business case Keeling presented to the ministers. Minister Creed told an Agriculture Committee last night that the business case was a letter.
The HRI's statement said the board "refuted suggestions that the chairman intentionally misled" the two ministers. "The board confirmed that the chairman's actions and intentions reflected its views regarding the CEO's contract. It also recognised that a more collegiate approach would have improved the process, but were fully agreed that there was no intention to incorrectly inform the Minister or that the board's views had been misrepresented."
Creed said last night: "I received a letter purporting to represent the board's interests. I would have preferred if the board had been consulted and I was asked for my assent on the basis of the business case. My function... is around consenting to the request of the board."
The HRI statement added that its board had confirmed "that it is satisfied that the best result for HRI and the industry has been achieved" with Kavanagh's reappointment.