Monday 20 November 2017

Greyhound board's accounts delay 'a disgrace'

A delay in publishing the accounts of debt-ridden Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, has been branded “a disgrace” at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Stock photo: Getty
A delay in publishing the accounts of debt-ridden Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, has been branded “a disgrace” at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Stock photo: Getty
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A delay in publishing the accounts of debt-ridden Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, has been branded "a disgrace" at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Fine Gael TD Peter Burke made the remarks after pointing out that the agency gets €260,000-a-week from the State. He demanded to know if the Department of Agriculture has confidence in the board, whose most recent published accounts date from 2014.

Department secretary general Aidan O'Driscoll said it did have his confidence. Asked by Mr Burke if the delay in publishing the accounts was acceptable, Mr O'Driscoll replied: "I accept that criticism. I wasn't expressing confidence in absolutely everything."

He said Bord na gCon's 2015 accounts were late - but had been completed and were to be submitted to the Government for approval shortly.

Questions have been raised about Bord na gCon's plan to sell Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium, announced earlier this week. It came after years of speculation surrounding the future of the venue, in light of the development of a new stadium in Limerick, which cost €21m on completion in 2011, saddling the organisation with debt.

One of the recommendations of the 2014 Indecon Report, commissioned by the Government was the sale of assets.

Mr Burke said Bord na gCon's turnover dropped to less than €30m since 2007 when it stood at €63.5m and said the State had increased its subvention to the agency. He said it was "incredible" that the 2104 accounts were the most recent available for "an agency that we're giving so much money to", adding: "I think that's a disgrace."

Labour TD Alan Kelly suggested the sale of assets should be suspended "until we find out what in the name of God is going on here".

"They're making decisions that are going to change the face of this industry," he said, adding: "We can't even analyse the 2015 accounts."

Mr O'Driscoll said: "We do have them, we can analyse them . . . I've accepted they are late and I apologised for that and it's not satisfactory."

Agriculture Department assistant secretary Brendan Gleeson said Bord na gCon had been in a "really difficult financial situation" since 2007.

He added: "We've known since 2014 that there has been a recommendation that Harold's Cross should be sold in part because it's an asset that's likely to have significant value and secondly it's 4km from another flagship stadium."

He said it was an "emotive issue" and that ultimately the sale would require the consent of ministers.

Irish Independent

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