The board of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) yesterday ratified Professor Patrick Wall as its new chairman.
As revealed in Wednesday’s Irish Examiner, Wall was proposed by Sports Minister Leo Varadkar following consultation with Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney. At an EGM yesterday, the HSI board also fixed a four-year term for the chairman, with the option of serving two terms, as no length of tenure was included in the HSI articles when the governing body was set up under outgoing chairman Joe Walsh.
Wall, the associate professor of public health at UCD, describes himself as a “hobby” breeder of horses. Coincidentally, as the first chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, he has been prominent in the media as a result of the horsemeat controversy.
He will enjoy no honeymoon period at HSI, an organisation under fire from a number of quarters. In particular, its sourcing of managers for the senior show jumping and eventing teams. Eddie Macken recently withdrew his bid for the show jumping post and strongly criticised the HSI.
HSI was criticised for not having a manager in place until mid February at least, with a second round of interviews taking place on February 11.
Meanwhile, Taylor Vard is filling the position and selecting riders for World Cup qualifiers, and the nations cup in Florida on March 1. The appointment of the eventing manager was also not without its difficulties for HSI, as the incumbent, Ginny Elliot, pulled out having already been interviewed.
On the day Macken went public, HSI announced Briton Nick Turner as new eventing manager. The timing was considered an attempt to deflect attention from Macken’s withdrawal. This was given credence by the fact the board, even out of courtesy, was not given the opportunity to convene to consider Turner’s appointment before it was announced.
On another front, HSI has been cited in a complaint to the European Commission filed by the Irish Warmblood Studbook. HSI is accused of taking action to keep the company’s application for a new studbook for eventing horses from being approved.
All in equestrian will watch to see how Wall applies his stamp, but his expertise in food could prove invaluable as he will have much on his plate as chairman of HSI.
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