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Minister Coveney Acknowledges the Importance of the World Class Irish Thoroughbred Industry and Announces Initiative to Bring Renewed Impetus to its Future Development

Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine today attended the 2011 Irish Horse Racing Awards where he was Guest of Honour.

In paying tribute to the outstanding Irish successes in 2011 with Irish bred horses, Irish trainers, owners and jockeys coming away with the spoils in Ireland, Britain, France and America, the Minister remarked "this country is a true leader in the equine world and shows the value of the pursuit of excellence. As a country, it is fitting that we should take pride in our success and encouragement from our achievements. The great success enjoyed in 2011 created a ripple effect throughout the entire industry, enhancing its reputation and benefitting all those involved in the industry either directly or indirectly".

The Minister complimented Horse Racing Ireland's Chairman, Denis Brosnan, his fellow Board Members, the CEO Brian Kavanagh and the staff for their continuing efforts in pursuit of the HRI mission 'to develop and promote Ireland as a world centre of excellence for horse racing and breeding'.

The Minister referred to the "enormous economic benefit of the thoroughbred industry to this country, providing 16,000 jobs, almost €1bn in economic output with exports worth some €147m to 36 countries in 2010". In re-affirming the Government's commitment to the industry Minister Coveney said that "as a clear signal of intent and despite our current very serious financial difficulties, the Government last week retained the annual allocation to the Horse and Greyhound Fund" and he also confirmed the Government will introduce legislation in the first quarter of 2012 to extend the betting duty regime to remote betting.

The Minister said that he would "shortly be commissioning an external review of the structures and legislation governing the industry" to ensure that governance and administrative procedures are modernised and fully effective in supporting a world-class industry. The Minister added "In taking this action I am acutely aware of the huge effort and commitment given by so many in bringing the industry to where it is today. But now we need to build on this and provide the framework that will facilitate further progress". In acknowledging that the current funding model for the industry needs to be improved and placed on a more secure footing, the Minister said "I will be including this aspect under the review process but I should make clear I believe the sector not alone should have secure and adequate funding but in the longer term it should also not be relying on Exchequer funding".

Minister Coveney explained that he has asked the Chairman of HRI, Mr Denis Brosnan to continue in his role until November 2012 in order to allow for the completion of the review and he was delighted that Mr Brosnan has agreed to this. The Minister concluded by once again congratulating all the nominees and all the winners of awards together with all those who play any role in the industry and wished everybody a Happy Christmas and continued success in 2012.

Date Released: 12 December 2011