Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

General Scheme of Horse Racing Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014: (Resumed) Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

11:05 am

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Many consultants seem to get big money for a proposal which becomes a fashion, but then fashions change and magic numbers coming in. Other than that some people irrationally think 13 is an unlucky number does it make a significant difference if the board has 13 or 14 members rather than 12? An argument can be made for each of these. Board members are nominated by interests, apart from the three nominated by the Minister. We recently had a farcical situation where a board had 19 or 20 members but only five people wound up making the big decision because everyone else had been put outside the door for one reason or another. How wedded is the Department to this magic 12 or is it a give or take figure?

One quarter of the seats on the board will be given to a group called the Turf Club which carries out statutory functions under the Act. This Turf Club is a self-perpetuating private body which does not have open membership, and it is not possible for anybody who wants to get in to do so if he or she is not chosen by those who are already in it. In the interests of openness, transparency and citizens' rights, which are all things we aspire to in a properly functioning republic, would it not be appropriate to oblige the Turf Club to have an open system of membership before it is given statutory functions and three seats on the board? How can the Department justify giving a private body whose membership is self-perpetuating, in other words existing members invite new members, and from which ordinary people are excluded if they are not part of the great and good clique and invited by the membership, are given statutory functions and three seats on the board? How can the Department justify this, given the present thinking on good governance, openness and citizens rights?


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