Friday, May 24, 2013
Future of Irish Equine Centre Secured

Horse Racing Ireland announced a major restructuring and refinancing of the Irish Equine Centre.  The Centre provides pathology, clinical pathology, microbiology and virology services to Ireland’s €1.7 billion equine sector.  The Centre plays a critical role in the maintenance of Ireland’s disease free status which is a key factor in international trade in bloodstock.  The restructuring and refinancing plan has been approved by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, the Irish Equine Centre Trust and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and will secure some 60 jobs in the Naas Centre. 

The restructuring plan follows the commissioning by HRI of an in-depth review of the Irish Equine Centre by Dr Noel Cawley and Ms Dairine Walsh.  That review concluded that there is an absolute need for the Irish Equine Centre and the surveillance and disease prevention work which it carries out.  

The other main findings of the review were:

1. The Centre should remain as an independent body but its structure and method of operation needs to be altered.
2. A new Board should be appointed and a Chief Executive recruited.
3. The commercial non-equine work which the Centre does is valuable and makes a significant contribution to the finances of the Centre
4. The service provided by the Centre would otherwise have to be provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
5. The Centre must exploit new sources of revenue such as research grants in collaboration with other institutions.
6. Capital investment is needed in the building, equipment and IT systems at the Centre.
7. Greater marketing of the Centre and its services would increase its business levels.

Horse Racing Ireland, the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, the Irish Equine Centre Trust and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have all made future funding commitments to the Centre while discussions will shortly commence with the sport horse sector regarding its support for the Centre.  A new dedicated charge of €2.50 per race entry to be paid by owners and to go directly to the Centre will be introduced from June 1st.

There will be a new Board of nine directors for the Centre to be appointed as follows:

• HRI                                                   4 members
• ITBA                                                  2 members
• Department of Agriculture               1 member
• IEC Trust                                           1 member
• Non-thoroughbred sector                  1 member

Brian Kavanagh Chief Executive of HRI said: “The Irish Equine Centre is the only dedicated equine diagnostic and disease surveillance unit in the country and is internationally recognised for the service it provides.  Since its establishment in 1984, the Centre has been a vital resource for the industry and its staff have conducted ground-breaking work aimed at improving diagnosis and control of equine disease.  Horse Racing Ireland recognises the pivotal role of the Centre and this restructuring should put the Centre on a more stable footing for the future.  I am grateful to the various parties for their support of the restructure, and I would also like to pay tribute to Noel Cawley and Dairine Walsh for the work they have done on their report.”

John Malone Chairman of the Irish Equine Centre said: “I am pleased that the various stakeholders have recognised the strategic importance of the Centre.  The new funding structures and governance arrangements will enable the Centre to build on its achievements and be a valuable resource for the equine sector into the future.”
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