The purpose of the meeting was for industry participants
(a) to discuss concerns over the selection process for the new CEO for GRI
(b) Lifford update
(c) update on the improvement plan and finances available for Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium.
(d) Derby 2022
Damian Matthews, Chairperson of the IGOBF opened and welcomed everyone to the meeting. He then went through a visual presentation of IGOBF accounts put together by the Treasurer, Susan Hayes. All aspects of the accounts were clarified, and any queries answered.
The meeting then moved on to concerns over the appointment of a new CEO to GRI.
Damian Matthews recalled his communications via email to the Minister on 21/4/2021 on behalf of IGOBF. That message is now even more relevant and urgent than when it was written only 13 months later.
Statement from IGOBF 22/07/2021
In light of the current challenges facing the industry, the IGOBF cannot overemphasise RCE’s role in the appointment of a knowledgeable, experienced and competent CEO for the greyhound industry. A leader with a clear vision and a willingness to engage with all the stakeholders who are tirelessly working for the betterment of our industry is required.
The vital importance of first-hand experience of greyhound racing and above all a passion for our great sport must be an essential prerequisite for any future candidate for the position at this point in time.
We need a CEO that will ‘hit the ground running’ and that will continue to build on the greyhound industry’s role as a very significant contributor to the Irish Economy.
Ireland has always been the home of the greatest racing greyhounds in the world. Our unique Irish culture and our world famous Greyhound heritage is something that must be nurtured and protected and celebrated.
Welfare must take top priority and the new CEO must continue the good work that has already been achieved.
All members of IGOBF fully understand and appreciate the importance of appointing the right candidate to the position of CEO and we are willing to work and engage with the appointed successor.
The future success of our sport depends on the right candidate been selected for the job as opposed to a political appointment. All too often a square peg is put in a round hole. The future of our industry depends on a successful appointment.
Mr Wayne McCarthy, Board member of GRI took the floor and outlined the process and protocols of selection. He then fielded questions from the floor. The main thread of the discussion was the need participants felt for a CEO with knowledge, connection and passion for the industry. It was felt that the criterion for selection needs to be weighted to have greater emphasis on in-depth knowledge of the greyhound racing industry. Mr McCarthy pointed out the problems faced by GRI is in the lack of candidates who came forward with applications who met those criteria and also who qualified for the necessary academic requirements of the position. It was stated that the current financial package for the CEO was not in line with packages offered to a CEO in similar positions e.g., the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland is on a package in the region of €190,000. This is substantially more than the salary for the CEO of GRI and this needs addressing.
Suggestions from the floor included that the recruitment company engaged should be head hunting suitable candidates in Ireland and abroad.
There does not appear to be a pathway within the industry that leads to CEO and that needs addressing .
It was felt that recognised and respected persons/stakeholders from within the industry should be involved in the interview and selection stage of CEO.
Continuing to fall back on the same selection process which to date has not served the industry adequately is only going to have the same outcome.
(b) Lifford update
It was asked what was happening regarding Lifford. Mr McCarthy outlined that he believed there were slight sticking points that needed to be addressed by the respective legal teams. It was put to Mr McCarthy that it is IGOBF ‘s understanding that the legal teams have met in recent weeks and come to agreement and that being the case this issue needs signing off on as a matter of urgency. The participants in the North West of Ireland have gone through protracted highs and lows and if all is in order let them start racing at the earliest opportunity.
(c) Kilkenny Update
The meeting was informed that funding for improvements to Kilkenny track are in place and awaiting signing off on by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the paperwork had been on their desk awaiting signing for a substantial time.
It was highlighted from the floor that in that time building costs had risen in the region of 50%.
(d) Derby 2022
The Derby Semi-finals and Final will be screened on Virgin Media.
Ivan Yates will be joining Ian Fortune to present the coverage and this is a hugely positive boost for our sport.
The IGOBF called on all supporters to get behind positive promotion of our 2022 Derby Final and let’s get as much positive coverage as we can and get people talking about, watching, supporting and attending the Irish Greyhound Derby.
Jackie Cahill TD and Chairman of the Agricultural Committee was in attendance and said he would be looking at issues and raising them with the Minister for Agriculture. He will ask questions regarding Lifford and Kilkenny and hoped to get back to IGOBF within the week.
The meeting gave those in attendance an insight into the selection of the CEO and an opportunity for constructive discussion on the various topics.
The IGOBF on behalf of members and all those in attendance wish to express their sincere thanks to Jackie Cahill TD Chairman of the Agricultural Committee and Mr Wayne McCarthy Board member of GRI.
Also thanks to Councillor Peggy Ryan for her attendance at short notice.