Horse Sport Ireland Chairman announces appointment of three new industry directors

  • 28 June 2024, 18:00

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), the governing body for equestrian sport in Ireland, is pleased to announce the appointment of three esteemed industry professionals to join its Board of Directors. This strategic move aims to strengthen HSI’s board and further its mission to develop the Irish sport horse industry.

Chairman of the Board, Mr. Michael Dowling, expressed his enthusiasm for the new appointments, saying: “We are delighted to welcome these highly respected individuals to our board. Their extensive experience and deep-rooted passion for the equestrian sector will undoubtedly contribute to the continued growth and success of Horse Sport Ireland. Each director brings unique insights and expertise that will be invaluable as we strive to enhance our programs, support affiliates and deliver for our customers & stakeholders.”

The newly appointed directors are:

  1. Dr. Siobhan McAuliffe, MBV, DACVIM, Cert RA: A renowned equine veterinarian with over 25 years of experience, Dr. McAuliffe has been instrumental in advancing equine reproduction, health, and welfare standards. Having graduated from UCD in 1997 she worked in ambulatory equine practice in Ireland until 2001 when she took up a residency in Equine Internal Medicine at the then Hagyard, Davidson and McGee clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. On completion of her residency, she worked for King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia. In 2010, she took up a position as Head of Neonatology at the newly constructed Kawell Equine Hospital in Buenos Aires, where she remained until returning to Ireland in 2017 to establish a new medicine and neonatology unit at Fethard Equine Hospital. She has numerous publications in both English and Spanish. She currently works as an equine internal medicine consultant and her comprehensive knowledge of equine science, as well as her commitment to the highest standards of horse care, will be a tremendous asset to HSI’s initiatives. Dr. McAuliffe is a member of the Irish Equine Veterinary Association (IEVA), and is the IEVA representative on Horse Sport Ireland’s Coaching & Education Advisory Forum.
  2. Ms. Sue Foley: As a successful equestrian business woman with Clonshire Equestrian Centre in Adare, Co. Limerick, Ms. Foley brings a wealth of practical industry knowledge and a strong network within the Association of Irish Riding Establishments (AIRE) network of riding centres, where she is current Vice-Chairperson. She is one of the best qualified and most experienced instructors in the country. She has helped many riders reach their riding dream, whether it is passing career exams, tackling a difficult jump, or just learning how to enjoy a gentle hack in the countryside. As a dedicated teacher and Level 2 Coach, Ms. Foley strives to ensure the horse and rider find true harmony. She enjoys dressage and eventing, is an AIRE member and is also the AIRE representative on HSI’s Equestrian, Sport & Recreation Advisory Forum.
  3. Ms. Allison Mercer: Ms. Mercer graduated from Queens’ University Belfast in BSc Biochemistry Hons and BAgrSc Agricultural Chemistry Hons and is currently the Managing Director at The Concept Group, a facilities management company which she set up with two partners and ran successfully for over 20 years until the business was acquired by The Mount Charles Group in 2022. Ms. Mercer has competed extensively in show jumping, eventing, dressage, working hunter and showing classes, most recently championing her own homebred young stock. She has completed the relevant coaching and judging courses, and has previously been on the Irish Pony Society and Dressage Ireland judges panels. She was the HSI Youth show jumping chairperson for three years, a director of Showjumping Ireland, is currently a director of the Northern Ireland Horse Board (NIHB), a member of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society Council, and a director of the Northern Irish Sports Forum.  Ms. Mercer is the NIHB representative on Horse Sport Ireland’s Breeding & Production Advisory Forum.

The appointments come at an exciting time for HSI, as the organisation launches a new e-passporting solution that will modernise passport processing; aims at enhances breeding schemes available to Irish equine breeders and, most significantly, has an eye on success at the Paris Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

Mr. Dowling added: “We welcome Siobhan, Sue and Allison to our board, and their addition will contribute to and enhance the overall board and governance of Horse Sport Ireland. We are confident that their contributions will help us achieve our vision of making Ireland a global leader in equestrian sport.

“I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the nomination panel, chaired by Tom Moran, Chairman of Public Appointment Service for the diligence with which they approached the selection process of new industry directors. I also wish to thank each of the affiliate organisations and industry stakeholders for engaging in the process, participating in the Advisory Forums, and to each of the candidates for their dedication to put themselves forward for consideration as directors.”

The appointments to the HSI Board of Directors are the results of over twelve months of consultation, engagement, and consideration of an alternative model to select directors from the equine industry to join the HSI Board.

The process, agreed in a 2024 constitutional change, involved reform of the previous Advisory Councils to create four Advisory Forums where 54 organisations representing affiliates and industry stakeholders were invited to provide representatives, filling 80 seats. Those representatives then selected one female candidate and second candidate of either gender, who were interviewed by an independent nominations panel.

The panel consisted of Tom Moran, Chairman of Kerry Group PLC and Chairman of the Public Appointments Service, who chaired the panel along with Dr. Una May, CEO, Sport Ireland; Dr. Gemma Daly, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEARA) in Northern Ireland; and Brian Mangan, former board member of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) and former Chair of the FEI Audit & Risk Committee.

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