A governance and confidence crisis at Horse Sport Ireland has seen the Government step in with the appointment of an interim Chairman and Board last week.

The step was taken by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, in consultation with the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers TD.

The move was needed after six Board members resigned in a long-running dispute over Board confidence in the CEO Dennis Duggan who was appointed in January, and Chair Joe Reynolds who subsequently stepped down himself.

The organisation is responsible for Show Jumping and Eventing in both of which Ireland has already qualified teams to compete at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024. The show jumping team subsequently won the Aga Khan Trophy at this summer’s ROyal Dublin Horse Show.

Numerous High Court actions have been undertaken as a result of the dispute which has obviously reached a point way beyond which it could be managed internally. One of these has been taken against the organisation and its former Chair by two of the coaches on the Eventing team.

The new Board will be chaired by Michael Dowling, former chair of Kerry Group PLC.

He will be joined by Professor Niamh Brennan, Professor of Management and Corporate Governance at UCD, Zoe Kavanagh, Chief Executive Officer of the National Dairy Council, and Dr. Kevin Smyth, former Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The appointments were effective immediately and the new Board members will remain in situ until after the Paris Olympics.

They will now have to wrestle with the interests of the 23 different organisations that are affiliated to Horse Sport Ireland in its role overseeing the sector.

“The sport horse sector is enormously important in Ireland, from a sporting, economic and cultural perspective,” said Minister McConologue.

“Many of the key performance indicators around breeding and sporting performance are positive.”

“From the local shows to major international events, we are the envy of the world when it comes to producing top-class horses for the sector. Recent results by our high-performance teams on the global stage show the calibre of our sector internationally.”

“What is important now is that we have a period of stability for the organisation and its staff in the period running up to the next Olympics.”

“This is a strong team and I am grateful that they have agreed to serve in order to bring stability to the organisation. I know that they will work closely with the sector and cast an objective eye at the running of the organisation, the development of the sector and the stewardship of almost €7 million in public funds annually.”