A SMALLER board of experienced people is likely to be put in place at Horse Sport Ireland and could be announced as early as this afternoon (Thursday) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Seven of the eight board members have resigned leaving chairman Joe Reynolds currently in place until the government announcement is made.

All eyes are on Minister Charlie McConalogue's department amid speculation that a smaller board of experienced people drawn from academia, legal and government backgrounds may be appointed.

Earlier this week HSI confirmed that two directors of its board, Mary Lambkin Coyle and David O’Meara resigned on Friday, November 4th and that four more directors - Lucinda Creighton, Paul Duffy, Tom Freyne and Clare Hughes - resigned on Friday, November 11th. CEO Denis Duggan and Avalon Everett were on FEI business overseas as events unfolded and returned to Ireland on Tuesday.

A Horse Sport Ireland spokesperson said earlier this week: “Horse Sport Ireland’s core role is to promote the development and growth of the sport horse sector in Ireland, and this is always the key focus of the organisation. Given the recent resignation of a number of Directors, the Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland is currently liaising with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to this as a matter of urgency."

Statement issued

Meanwhile a meeting was held of industry stakeholders on Tuesday after which a joint statement was issued and emailed to Minister McConalogue's office, it was copied to several media, including The Irish Field.

It read: "The undersigned stakeholders in the Irish Horse Sport Industry call on the Minister for Agriculture to remove the current Chairperson and Director of Horse Sport Ireland appointed by a previous Department of Agriculture Minister and his Department under and within Memorandum and Articles points 39 through to 46 and particularly note 43(C).

"Over the past number of years, we have witnessed the loss of very talented staff from HSI and indeed in recent days, the spate of resignations of directors of the board of HSI. We are concerned with the board's recent decision to seek a judicial review in the High Court in relation to the recent Department of Agriculture Tenders. The lack of engagement with the stakeholders and in particular the lack of transparency, consultation, financial accountability, mounting legal costs and lack of appropriate leadership have all given rise to the demand for the resignation of the chairman of the board.


Christopher J Byrne, Spokesperson for Equestrian Competition Venues Owners Alliance ECVOA

Ronan Corrigan, Chairman, Management & Finance Committee of Showjumping Ireland

Marguerite McSweeney, Chairman of Dressage Ireland

Tiernan Gill, Chairman of the Irish Horse Board

Robert Fagan, Mullingar Equestrian

Hugh McCusker, Chairman Northern Ireland Horse Board

Gwen Byrne, CoilOg Eventing Ltd, Eventing at Punchestown.

Other Interested Olympic Disciplines.''

More on this story in this week's The Irish Field