A ROAD-MAP leading to the formation of a new Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) board is moving on, despite not having buy-in from at least six of the major affiliates.

The body has been without industry representation on the board for 14 months after the previous board resigned, forcing the Minister for Agriculture to appoint an interim board.

HSI announced changes to how directors will be chosen in early February, with the chairpersons of all affiliates invited to a briefing that week, however Showjumping Ireland, Eventing Ireland, Para Equestrian Ireland, the Army Equitation School, the Irish Horse Board, Dressage Ireland, ECVOA and the RDS were unable to attend, given the invitation only went out the Thursday prior.

One major change is the establishment of four new ‘Advisory Forums’ (Breeding and Production Advisory, Coaching and Education, High Performance Sport, Equestrian Sport and Recreation). Each forum will nominate two possible candidates, at least one being female, and an independent selection panel will then select four of those to recommend for appointment as directors.

‘Rushed process’

A revised HSI constitution has been posted on the HSI website, however, some affiliates are not happy with the ‘rushed process’ and have not yet nominated anyone. A statement on behalf of the majority of the affiliates listed above reads: “A number of affiliates have at this time replied to HSI in relation to the request for nominations. They have signalled that, in order to best represent their members and to ensure that they adhere to their duties as Directors or officials, they must fully review the new documentation to form the constitution and terms of reference of HSI before they might make a decision that could affect their organisations. Initial review has raised a number of issues that merit seeking professional advice.

“This rushed process on the part of HSI has now caused serious issues, as these bodies work to ensure that they are fully aware of all changes. These changes were also drafted and agreed by the interim board who, by their own admission, have a limited knowledge of the sector and the Industry, sport and stakeholders were effectively blocked from participation at board level, in spite of numerous requests by the industry to reinstate the full board prior to embarking on such proposed changes.

“The Affiliates and stakeholders, who have related their requirement to review documents, are doing so in the best interests of their members and would have expected that HSI would have understood the requirement to do so and would provide adequate time for this to happen.”

HSI CEO Denis Duggan confirmed affiliates and stakeholders were invited to nominate candidates for the four Advisory Forums and thanked the organisations that have provided nominees to these forums.

“Regrettably, six organisations have declined to provide nominations. At present, three of the forums have received almost a full complement of nominees, albeit that there will be vacant seats from two to three organisations across all forums, due to nominations not being received from those not engaging in the process.

“HSI recognises that the timeframes have been challenging. It is a huge effort to re-populate a Board relatively quickly, but despite the challenge, the spirit of cooperation, engagement, understanding and positivity from so many stakeholders has been reassuring.

“The Board of HSI had stated a desire to have equestrian industry directors in place by the end of April or early May. With the number of nominations received for the Advisory Forums, it seems likely that at least three of the forums will meet in the coming weeks to provide their two candidates for consideration.”

When asked if HSI was prepared to proceed without the biggest affilliates, Mr Duggan said he could not pre-empt a board decision.