Sport Ireland admits audit has raised issues

Sport Ireland admitted this week that the Deloitte audit of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) had raised some issues, but it suggested that this was not out of the ordinary.

Sport Ireland spokesman Paul McDermott confirmed it had forwarded the completed audit to HSI.

“It has gone through our audit committee and they have accepted the final report. We have presented it to the Horse Sport Ireland board,” said McDermott.

“I won’t say there were no issues. All audits produce issues, matters that need to be resolved. It’s now a matter for Horse Sport Ireland to implement any recommendations.

“The report remains confidential, due to legal requirements. In order for an auditor to undertake his or her work, it needs to be done on a confidential basis. We have no issue or problem with the report being made public, but you have to be respectful of other parties.”

The audit was initiated over a year ago by Sport Ireland as per a request by the Public Accounts Committee.

As far back as December, McDermott said the audit was available in “draft form” and, while he had not read it, any suggestion of financial difficulties at HSI was inaccurate.

HSI yesterday declined to answer a number of questions in relation to the audit, including: When will the audit be published? What are its findings/recommendations? Will it have financial implications for HSI affiliates?

Spokesperson Elaine Hatton said: “The audit findings will be considered at the next HSI board meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday. After this, we will be in a position to answer questions.”

Ireland does not have a team in today’s Furusiyya Series nations cup in La Baule, France, but the show features individuals Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor, rivals for our sole place at the Olympics.

While O’Connor will showcase the superlative Good Luck, Allen has opted not to bring his Olympic prospect Molly Malone V .

German-based Mayo horse producer Carl Hanley has called for permanent water jumps to be replaced by rubber temporary jumps, saying his stable rider Eoin McMahon is lucky to be alive after a fall in the grand prix in Munich last weekend. The 20-year-old Clare rider tumbled from Questfinder as they negotiated the water jump, suffering a fractured verterbra, a broken finger, concussion, and heavy bruising, but Hanley said that, according to the doctor, he could have died.

“It was a scary day,” said Hanley. “Eoin has a fractured bone in his neck. It’s at the joint that connects his skull to his spine, on the skull side. The doctor said if it had broke it would have killed him. He said it needs four to five weeks to heal and then he’s good to ride again. He needs to wear a neck brace for two weeks. He’s a very, very lucky man.”

Hanley outlined why mobile water jumps should be the standard for competitions.

“For me, a mobile rubber water jump is one that stays on top of the ground, the water is probably not more than 3cm deep on a flat rubber surface, so if a horse drops short of the far side of the water with one front leg or two, then it will land on a flat, level rubber surface and there is very little chance of the horse losing his balance or grip on a bad landing. Even if this type of water jump is dug slightly into the ground it is still a very safe water jump, in my opinion.

“An old-fashioned permanent water jump can have a bottom that is often 10 to 20cm deep. It has a concrete surface that has a downward fall from the outside edge of the water towards the middle of the water jump and then, to add to it, a concrete surface which gives a horse very little grip and leads to a dangerous landing.”

Unfortunately, Questfinder broke his leg and was euthanised. Hanley said it was sad to lose “such a great, kind, and wonderful horse”.

Sunday’s Aglish Gymkhana in west Waterford, has been postponed, with June 30 the new proposed date. Maryville in Cork has stepped into the breach, starting at 10am.

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