Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has described the progress made by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) installing CCTV at racecourses as ‘woeful and lamentable’ saying that delays called into question the commitment to what is ‘a crucial integrity measure.’
The Louth TD, and member of the Public Accounts Committee, raised the matter with the IHRB during a hearing of the committee with officials from Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), the IHRB and Department of Agriculture.
Teachta Munster said:
“A person could be forgiven for having the impression that there’s little enthusiasm, or that there are attempts to frustrate the rollout of CCTV across all 25 racecourses. This delay is hard to comprehend given that you would imagine that maintaining and protecting the integrity of the sport would be given priority.
“It was five years ago Horse Racing Ireland announced the allocation of funds to the IHRB for the installation of CCTV at 25 racecourses.
“In the intervening period, timeframes have shifted like sand, with the committee being advised last November that they were working towards completion at each racecourse by the commencement of the 2022 season.
“By the new year, a date for completion of works was no longer available, while in February, a new deadline of mid-autumn emerged.
“Autumn has arrived and today the IHRB advised the Public Accounts Committee that they have completed the installation at just two of 25 racecourses.
“The IHRB as an organisation is in effect almost entirely dependent on taxpayer money yet due to the manner in which it is allowed to operate legislatively is seriously lacking in transparency.
“They have not until this point disclosed the salary of their CEO, nor are they subject to Freedom of Information.
“At the same time, it was today clarified today at Committee that what I regard as an already unnecessarily complicated relationship between the HRI and IHRB, is further convoluted by that of the IHRB with Turf Club, especially in the case of the Curragh Racecourse re-development.
“It is apparent that in the spirit of transparency the racecourse redevelopment company should be subject to both audit by the Comptroller & Auditor General and the Freedom of Information Acts, yet government support and effective endorsement of those convoluted relationships prevent that.
“This is just one example of certain publicly funded bodies lacking in full and proper scrutiny; and it’s one I intend to continue highlighting and advocating for reform on.
“In the meantime, the race-horsing board need to get their act together if they want to ensure that the integrity of the sport is maintained. They absolutely must fast-track the roll-out to the 25 race courses by end of year.
“It beggars belief that this even has to be said to them five years on.”