PAC greyhound probe ‘unaffected’ by CEO’s exit

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said it will not let the departure of the Irish Greyhound Board chief executive delay its inquiries into the company.

PAC greyhound probe ‘unaffected’ by CEO’s exit

On Friday, the IGB confirmed the surprise decision of its CEO, Adrian Neilan, to leave his post for another job. The news broke on the eve of a board meeting which was to sign off on the delayed responses to a detailed series of questions, the PAC asked of it following a hearing last month.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said the committee had written to the IGB last week expressing its dissatisfaction with the IGB’s failure to submit explanations on time.

The board had been asked to respond to a long list of questions linked to irregularities and budget issues in the construction of its new €23m track in Limerick.

Mr McGuinness said his committee still expected a response promptly, having waited six weeks already: “We are dissatisfied at the fact that they said they would be back to us within 10 days, they still haven’t come back and the questions are mounting... we want answers regardless.”

Mr Neilan informed the company of his decision to turn down a new contract offer last Thursday.

It was less than three weeks since Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney delivered on 18 months of lobbying by the board and secured permission to break public appointment rules to grant Mr Neilan a two-year contract extension.

This would have kept him in the job until January 2016, on a reduced salary. Instead, the board will begin recruitment for a new CEO after Christmas.

At last month’s PAC hearing, Mr Neilan was asked about the financial troubles facing the company and its debt levels. He said the firm was about to see improvements and that he had lined up a series of international contracts that would boost its turnover after a “transformational” online streaming partnership with Independent News and Media.

In a detailed statement this weekend, the company said it had learned with regret of Mr Neilan’s decision, but it wanted to record his achievements.

“The board of Bord na gCon wishes to put on record its appreciation of the contribution of Adrian Neilan to the Irish greyhound industry.

“In the midst of the most challenging economic conditions ever faced by a chief executive of Bord na gCon, Mr Neilan undertook significant rationalisation of the organisation and executed a major capital programme, under budget, which has led to significant improvements in stadium and track facilities,” it said.

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