STAFF levels at Horse Sport Ireland have risen from 35 to 50 in the past five years while a comprehensive breakdown of the public funding received by the Naas-based organisation was recently aired in the Dáil.

Carlow-Kilkenny John McGuinness (FF) tabled a multi-pronged Dáil question in June over the level of funding allocated by Horse Sport Ireland to the sport horse industry in each of the past five years; the number of staff employed by the organisation over the past five years; if there is a large turnover of staff; if exceptional costs were incurred by the organisation in the past five years.

In response, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue (FF), provided a breakdown of the figures from DAFM funding as follows:

Separately, funding by Sport Ireland and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, is as follows:

Number of staff, excluding non-executive directors, have ranged from an average of 35 staff in earlier years to an average of 50 in 2022 (figures below).

Minister McConalogue said: “Horse Sport Ireland has tended to recruit seasonal staff on contracts of one year duration to meet seasonal demands such as at foal registration time. The seasonality of employment has impacted on overall staff turnover which is approximately in the range of 25-30% over recent years.

“In the past two years, employment practices with Horse Sport Ireland have focussed on aiming to provide for more continuity and improved service levels. The management within Horse Sport Ireland has an expectation, subject to any efficiencies, that staff turnover levels will moderate.”

‘The great resignation’

Minister McConalogue also detailed the larger macro-economic trend referred to by recruitment specialists as “the great resignation”, where many employees, across all sectors, are switching jobs or retiring. “Horse Sport Ireland, similar to most other employers, is not immune to forces in the employment marketplace. In an effort to enhance and augment the workplace culture within Horse Sport Ireland, its recently appointed Chief Executive Officer has recruited a Human Resource manager to support the organisation in becoming an employer of choice within the equestrian industry.

“HSI has also informed me as with any business, exceptional costs arise from time to time. In its organisation, there were a number of one-off costs in recent years, such as meeting and implementing the recommendations of the 2017 Indecon Report. In certain years, it is not unusual to have exceptional costs incurred on expenditure regarding the Olympic Games or World Equestrian Games, which is funded from Sport Ireland and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and not within my Departments vote,” said Minister McConalague.