Cameron Murphy09.03.2017

Chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), Brian Kavanagh, has addressed ongoing concerns over his re-appointment for a third term without open competition, last year.

Addressing the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, Mr Kavanagh expressed his regret that any controversy had arisen, saying that he would have been happy to have an open competition and that competition would have made it clear whether he was the right man for the job or not.

The controversy began when Mr Kavanagh was appointed for a third term as chief executive of HRI, despite it being a semi-state body and guidelines stipulating that semi-state organisations must limit their chief executives to a single term of seven years. Kavanagh has been CEO of the semi-state HRI since 2001 and in September last year, his position was renewed for an additional five years.

With no advertisement for other candidates for the €247,000 a year position, Mr Kavanagh conceded that he could not know if he was the best man for the job.

“I don’t know whether I would be the best person for the job,” Mr Kavanagh said in response to contention from HRI chairman Joe Keeling, in front of the committee last year. “I would be quite happy to participate in any open competition for the position and take the outcome of that competition.”

Mr Kavanagh was re-appointed in 2009 following an open competition and at the time it was stipulated that he would have the opportunity to compete for the position again in the future or could be transferred to a different position within HRI. In 2011, there were moves to delete that part of his contract. The controversy over his re-appointment in 2016 remains with many people questioning why the governance on national guidelines was not followed.