Mark Bolger steps down as Director General of Irish Horse Board

Mark Bolger has stepped down as director general of the Irish Horse Board (IHB) after filling the position since 2009.

The move was planned and was due to the increasing workload, said Bolger, who also acts as director of finance and operations at Horse Sport Ireland.

In a statement, Bolger outlined the background to the development.

“It was agreed at the IHB special general meeting in 2008 that HSI would provide the services of director general and accounting services to the IHB. The director general services include managing the annual regional elections, servicing of the board and other company secretarial matters. I have carried out the director general services since 2009.

“At the end of 2014, I indicated to the HSI CEO [Damian McDonald] that it was my intention to stand down as IHB director general at the end of 2015, due to the increasing workload of the HSI finance function,” said Bolger, adding that the IHB board were made aware of the situation on August 25 last and that he would continue to provide accounting services to the IHB.

He noted that “as part of normal business, HSI reallocate functions from time to time” and said he is providing interim cover as the director general of the Irish Horse Board until HSI chief executive McDonald “allocates a resource to provide the services”.

The integration of IHB into HSI was agreed in 2008 and its representatives now make up the majority of the HSI breeding sub-board, while also nominating five representatives to sit on the main board of HSI.

  • The Deloitte audit of Horse Sport Ireland will not be ready for next Tuesday’s meeting of the HSI board.

It is almost a year after the Irish Sports Council were ordered by the Public Accounts Committee to initiate the audit on foot of a complaint.

“It continues to be delayed. It’s still in draft form and it will be a while yet before it’s completed. We don’t have a timeline for it,” said Paul McDermott, director of high performance, NGBs, and communications at the Irish Sports Council, yesterday.

Last month, McDermott said speculation of financial difficulties at HSI were “wide of the mark”.

  • Another out of a job, so to speak, is Tony Hurley, who relinquishes his role as ShowjumpingIreland chairman next Tuesday, when the new executive will elect a replacement.

It brings to an end Hurley’s second three-year stint as chairman and he is satisfied the successful candidate next Tuesday will be taking over the reins with the association well placed to fulfil the needs of its members.

“I think the association is in a very good place at the moment. It’s quite healthy, though we wouldn’t be wealthy. I’m very happy with the way the three years went. They were challenging, but I still enjoyed it.”

  • The news this week that an arrangement has been agreed between HSI and Korea that could see ponies being exported to the Far East country has garnered some negative comment on the HSI facebook page.

Most of those responses concern horse welfare and the consumption of horsemeat in Korea.

A quick, unscientific Google scan yesterday threw up a report from last year on the investigative website the Korea Observer, saying the Korean government is actively promoting the consumption of horse meat.

The report quoted a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, which read: “The government will promote the consumption of horses by making and distributing a wide range of horse meat recipes and hosting horse meat tasting events.”

A spokesman for Korea Racing Authority (KRA) said: “The horse meat industry can become a potential blue ocean, which might be able to revive the domestic rural economy. The most important thing at this moment is to increase the supply of horse meat.”

It should be pointed out that the human consumption of horse is not uncommon in France, Germany, Belgium, and other countries throughout the world.

Also, according to the Dept of Agriculture, there are currently two premises approved for the slaughter of equines for human consumption in Ireland.

On the other hand, the crisis that struck the beef industry a few years ago, when horse DNA was found in processed food, demonstrated the abhorrence in many quarters to the consumption of horse.

In response to the negative Facebook comments, a HSI spokesperson said: “HSI are dealing with a professional sporting organisation in South Korea — The Korean Horse Industry Association is a progressive and professional government-supported agency. The Koreans are seeking high-value horses for sport. From interaction with the Korean Horse Industry Association we have no welfare concerns. A sport horse veterinarian was amongst their delegation [to Ireland] and they are very serious about developing the sport horse sector in Korea.”

Coincidentally, it seems another HSI — Humane Society International — claims to have helped shut down three dogmeat operations in South Korea since the beginning of last year.

There is no suggestion our HSI is barking up the wrong tree with its Korean deal.


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