Tuesday 17 January 2017

HRI insists no cash settlement for CEO at end of third term

Johnny Ward

Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30

HRI chairman Joe Keeling
HRI chairman Joe Keeling

Horse Racing Ireland has insisted that CEO Brian Kavanagh will not get any financial package when his third term concludes, despite chairman Joe Keeling making reference to the possibility of one at its board meeting on Monday.

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Furthermore, HRI confirmed to the Irish Independent that Kavanagh had signed confirmation that he will not re-apply for the CEO position after the third term is completed, as suggested to the Agriculture Committee earlier this month by Keeling.

It is understood that the embattled board is deeply concerned about what may be revealed in the coming weeks in relation to the process which saw Kavanagh secure a third term - government guidelines only allow for one for a semi-state CEO - earlier this year.

Pressure

And pressure increased on HRI yesterday when Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly made allegations in the Dáil about goings-on at the semi-state, while labelling the board's "level of professionalism or, rather, the lack of it... utterly shocking".

Daly called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to carry out an independent inquiry into corporate governance at HRI. She said: "There are other issues around staffing that were not aired at the (Agriculture) committee. There were allegations of payments being made by the CEO, probably without the knowledge of the board, to settle workplace claims. There are the matters of high-level turnover of staff in HRI, bullying and so on. All these matters have to be investigated as far as I am concerned."

Martin Kenny of Sinn Féin called on the government to consider removing funding to HRI, in the same month that the government made a record commitment to the sport in its budget.

"The horseracing industry receives funding of €64m per annum, with no expectation in terms of accountability," Kenny told Minister Creed. "Every other sector that receives funding, be it the sheep sector in terms of the new sheep grant system and so on, is required to adhere to a particular set of conditions."

Confusion remains in relation to whether or not the highly-respected Kavanagh qualifies for a CID (Contract of Indefinite Duration) which would potentially mean that he has a job for life as CEO of HRI. At the Agri Committee meeting earlier this month, HRI board member Meta Osborne said: "I came onto the remuneration committee in April. I saw sight of the legal advice which stated that there was potential for a risk in that regard (to a CID)."

Keeling was also a member of that remuneration committee, the purpose of which is "to examine all issues in relation to the contract of employment of the chief executive". However, he said at the Agri committee that he "did not focus for one moment on the legalities". The remuneration committee was fully aware of the potential for a CID as far back as April.

Qualified

When asked yesterday whether it felt Kavanagh qualified for a CID, the Department replied: "The contract of employment for the CEO of HRI is a matter for HRI.

"However, the contract, as agreed by (the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and signed by the CEO in September 2016, has a defined duration and clearly sets out the CEO's terms of office."

Meanwhile, Gordon Elliott had a double at Clonmel yesterday, though star attraction - chasing debutante Missy Tata - was scratched. Barry Geraghty steered Mick Jazz to a maiden hurdle win at 9/10, while Ruby Walsh scored in the Clonmel Handicap Hurdle aboard Elliott's 7/1 chance Orchard Road.

Irish Independent

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