Update on new Advisory Forums and Director appointments process

  • 26 April 2024, 16:00

Three of the four new Horse Sport Ireland Advisory Forums have met to elect Chairpersons and to nominate candidates as potential non-executive Directors of Horse Sport Ireland.

42 members of three Advisory Forums, representing 34 different affiliates and stakeholder groups from the areas of Breeding & Production; Equestrian Sport & Recreation; and Coaching & Education have selected six candidates to enter the selection process to become a Director of Horse Sport Ireland.  All 42 members who attended the meeting were duly nominated by their respective organisations, thus ensuring a strong level of engagement within the industry, as a result of an open democratic process.

The Board and Management of Horse Sport Ireland wishes to express its gratitude and appreciation to those who gave of their time to participate in the initial Advisory Forum meeting. There is a substantial volunteer effort within the equestrian community as evidenced by those who made themselves available for the good of their own organisations and the wider community.

The Advisory Forums, which replace the four Councils, are part of a new model for electing industry nominees to the Board of Horse Sport Ireland, and provide a forum for collaboration and engagement across the industry.  The Forums are designed to ensure that 50 affiliates and industry stakeholders can interact and engage with each other and with Horse Sport Ireland. This system ensures the widest possible level of engagement and inclusivity from our industry partners.

Under this new model, which was approved by the Horse Sport Ireland Board in January following an open public consultation process last year, there is no change whatsoever to the representation that each of the four groupings will have on the Horse Sport Ireland Board.

Previously, the Chair of each Council became a Director of Horse Sport Ireland, so each group had a specific nominee on the Horse Sport Ireland Board. Under the new system, each Advisory Forum nominates two candidates from its area to enter a Board selection process.

One of the two candidates from each Advisory Forum will be selected by an independent panel as a Horse sport Ireland Director and this new system creates a cast-iron guarantee that each of the four Advisory Forums will continue to enjoy the same representation as in the previous Council system.

Moving to the new system ensures that that the Board of Horse Sport Ireland meets the Government’s gender representation requirements. Of the two candidates selected by each Forum, one must be female.  The independent panel will select four directors, and will be minded to appoint at least two female directors to fill two of four vacancies available.

All sports bodies, including Horse Sport Ireland, have been informed by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media that at least 40 per cent of their governing boards must be female.

Sport Ireland recently published a report card on female participation at board level across all National Governing Bodies of Sport. Included in that report was Horse Sport Ireland’s current equal 50:50 participation of men and women at board level. Otherwise, their Government funding would be in jeopardy.  In line with overall government policy on gender participation, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine also have a 40 per cent target to gender diversity on the boards of DAFM-funded bodies such as Horse Sport Ireland.

Having gender diversity on the Horse Sport Ireland Board is absolutely the right thing to do, and it is also vital to enable us to continue to fund the industry, as Horse Sport Ireland is dependent on public funding to operate and provide valuable funding into the equine industry such as Sports Participation Grants to Affiliates or breeding schemes to breeders and producers of young horses.

To guarantee gender diversity, each Advisory Forum which has met has nominated one male and one female candidate to the selection process for the Horse Sport Ireland Board. Following an interview process carried out by the independent panel, four of the eight candidates – two men and two women – will become Directors. The process is therefore designed to ensure that each of the four Advisory Forums will have a guaranteed Director, as was previously the case, and that the Board will always meet the required gender balance quotas.

The interview process will also consider the specific skills that candidates have to help ensure that the Horse Sport Ireland Board has the appropriate mix of skills among its Directors. This is essential to meet good corporate governance guidelines.

Regrettably, the fourth Advisory Forum has not yet met. Horse Sport Ireland offered to meet representatives of this group recently to discuss any concerns they might have in relation to the new process, but this request was declined. Horse Sport Ireland remains committed to engaging with all stakeholders in relation to the move to the new Advisory Forum structures.

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