Report of Liaison Meeting – Bord na gCon (BnG) and DAFM

 

22 November 2013 – BnG Headquarters, Limerick

 

Attendees:

DAFM:

Dermot A. Ryan, Gerry Greally, Emer McGeough, Clare Gormley, Anne-Marie Daly

BnG:

Adrian Neilan, Michael Murnane, Pat Herbert, Jim O’Dwyer, Joe Lewins, Colin Walsh,

Michael Queally ( BnG – Internal Auditor)

Niall Healy (John J. Casey and Co., Chartered Quantity Surveyors and Construction Cost Consultants

– Contractor – construction of Limerick Stadium)

Report of liaison meeting dated 15 May 2013

Report of liaison meeting of the 15th May 2013 was adopted.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

BnG circulated a document entitled

‘Irish Examiner/ Conor Ryan coverage BnG Briefing”, in which

BnG refutes the allegations made in the Irish Examiner article of the 8th August 2013.

Following on from BnG’s appearance before the PAC on 7th November 2013, the PAC wrote to BnG

on 12th November 2013 requesting the following information within two weeks of said letter;

1. A note on each of the issues raised by the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation in their correspondence to the Committee received on 26th June 2013.

2. A copy of the independent report, submitted to DAFM, in regard to the deficit in the defined pension scheme.

The PAC, In their letter, suggested that before preparing a response, BnG should consult the full

transcript of the proceedings. BnG will review the transcript, correct any errors that may exist in

therein and notify DAFM of same.

BnG will forward a copy of the PAC letter of the 12th November to DAFM.

BnG will furnish DAFM with a copy of its response to the PAC.

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Limerick Stadium

Mr. Niall Healy, who attended this meeting at the request of BnG, provided an outline to the

meeting of how the construction of Limerick Stadium was managed – a main contract & an

enablement works contract; site issues; issues regarding the sourcing, suitability, availability, cost

and amount of fill required; impact of extraneous unforeseen events – sudden halt of construction

works in the city; impact of OPW & ESB requirements; additional demands posed by fire safety &

access issues. Mr Healy said there was an over-riding imperative stipulated by BnG that the project

had to be delivered within budget.

BnG circulated a document relating to the development of Limerick Stadium entitled

‘The Irish Greyhound Board

 

Limerick Greyhound Stadium Development’. This document had been prepared

by BnG in connection with BnG’s appearance before the PAC on 7th November 2013.

REGULATION

Mr. Herbert, Head of Regulation, BnG, reported that following the Tullymurry Act case. BnG will be

bringing forward proposals to amend the racing regulations to address the shortcomings highlighted

by this case. BnG confirmed it has consulted with senior counsel is in the process of drafting a new

SI which is with the Control Committee for approval.

BnG stated that much work has been done with a view to preparing legislation to give effect to the

recommendations contained in the Dalton Report and referred to draft legislation prepared by

DAST, prior to the handover of responsibility for the Greyhound Acts from DAST to DAFM in 2010..

Ms. McGeough advised BnG to notify DAFM of any changes it identifies as being necessary to be

made to primary legislation (1958 Act) by January 2014 as part of the upcoming review, to be

undertaken by independent consultants at the request of the Minister, of certain matters relating to

Bord na gCon. (TOR for the Review were forwarded to BnG previously). DAFM confirmed the

contract for the Review will be awarded in December 2013 and consultants will be commencing

work on the review asap.

Frozen Semen

The Artificial Insemination of Greyhounds Regulations 2005, S.I. 561 of 2005 provide for a two year

limit on the use of semen following the death of a stud dog, thereafter the semen must be destroyed

and this is provided for in Articles 11 and 14 of the aforementioned Regulations. DAFM expressed its

concern to learn that the two year rule is not being adhered to.

Mr. Herbert explained BnG and the ICC have differing views on this issue. Mr. Ryan conveyed the

DAFM view that this issue should be discussed at the next BnG Board meeting with a view to having

the situation resolved as soon as possible. Mr. Neilan confirmed that the matter would be placed on

the agenda for the next BnG Board meeting.

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GREYHOUND WELFARE

BnG’s actions w.r.t. greyhound welfare were discussed. Mr. Ryan recommended that Standard

Operating Procedures (SOP) should be prepared and implemented by staff at tracks and at kennels.

Mr. Herbert confirmed that there were no greyhound welfare SOPs in place. Mr. Neilan accepted

that BnG need to address this issue. Mr Herbert reported that the ICC is prepaing an SOP which will

take cognisance of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 and the BnG Code of Practice for Greyhound

Welfare. Mr. Ryan stated it is the view of the Department that SOP and Checklists should be in place

to underpin measures taken by BnG & the ICC in relation to greyhound welfare and the Department

will seek confirmation from BnG that this is done. Mr Neilan asked Mr Herbert to prepare a project

plan to advance greyhound welfare inspection procedures.

Dundalk Enquiry

Mr. Herbert outlined the changes that have been made by BnG arising out of the findings contained

in the report commissioned by BnG from Ms Aoife Forrest, BL, into the running of “Mays

Hurronboy”, i.e. the Dundalk Enquiry, published by BnG, September 2013.

Mr. Herbert reported that following from the Dundalk Enquiry an SOP underpinning integrity

controls has been implemented by BnG at all tracks.

Specific changes have been made aimed at strengthening integrity controls at tracks:

• New procedures implemented at all licensed tracks include restrictions to computer

systems access, the requirement for passwords to be regularly changed,

• Standard procedures have been introduced to address instances of time loss/ finding

• Information is cross-referenced

• increased sanctions,

• increased time and performance trials prior to racing

• more robust dog identification procedures ( a second steward must conduct an identity

check).

• secondary procedures are now in place when a relative has a dog competing.

• Protocols have been introduced to address situations where staff at tracks step back in

circumstances where potential conflicts of interest could arise, additional procedures are

implemented in these situations

BnG has also commenced a review of the legislation reality to integrity controls.

Microchipping

BnG is supportive of micro-chipping. It welcomes this additional control which will aid identification

of dogs.

Stanozolol

Stanozolol is an anabolic steroid the use of which is banned in sports. Stanozolol, in its oil-based form, is administered intravenously, the water-based form is administered orally.

Mr. Herbert informed the meeting that BnG has been testing for Stanozolol, in its water- based form, for a number of years. BnG tests to the Australian standard. BnG can, under current testing arrangements in Ireland, detect the presence of the water-based Stanozolol. Testing for oil-based \ Stanozolol is proving more difficult. BnG explained that work aimed at developing a test, in Ireland, to detect oil-based Stanozolol has been on-going for approximately 6 months. Currently, samples are being sent to the UK for testing for the presence of oil-based stanozolol and BnG assured DAFM that owners and breeders have been informed of this fact. BnG may decide to send personnel to the UK for training in the detection of oil-based Stanozolol.

BnG confirmed to the meeting that it will respond directly to Mr Gus Ryan regarding the complaint

Mr Ryan has made in relation to the testing regime in place for the detection of stanozolol.

Oestrogen Suppression

BnG is seeking to identify a product that can be legitimately used as an oestrogen suppressant in

bitches. Mr. Herbert explained that bitches are unable to race when they come in season and this

limits the number of times bitches can compete. The Board of BnG is currently examining how other

jurisdictions manage oestrogen suppression in bitches. There are a number of licensed veterinary

products on the market that suppress oestrogen but they are anabolic steroids.

The human contraceptive pill, an effective oestrogen suppressant, is not an anabolic steroid but

there is no veterinary equivalent on the market. BnG is seeking the approval of the Irish Medicines

Board to use this product (i.e. human medicine) in greyhounds.

In addition, BnG is examining products on the market that are being legally administered to horses

with a view to identifying a solution for greyhounds. The Control Committee will review any

proposals arising in this regard in due course.

BnG does not maintain a list of ‘prohibited substances’. A definition of ‘prohibited substances’ is

contained in the racing regulations.

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Corporate Governance

Fees payable to the Control Committee & to the Control Appeals Committee

DAFM reported that it is awaiting an application from BnG seeking the approval of the Minister to

the level of fees payable to members of both Committees.

Corporate Governance Checklist

M. Murnane circulated the completed checklist at the meeting. The following matters came up for

mention.

Directors Code of Business Practice:

• BnG stated that there is no policy in place for directors who breach the Directors’ code of

conduct.

• BnG will consider including the following provisions in the Directors Code of Business

Practice:

• Only the Chairman or the CEO would act as a spokesperson for the Board.

• Directors will return all BnG documentation on retirement from the Board of BnG

• A procedure will be put in place recording the concerns of Directors that cannot be resolved

Risk Management Policy

BnG stated that the risk management policy was updated in July 2013. The Risk Management

Committee includes Michael Queally, Jim O’Dwyer and Colin Walsh. Risks are actively managed and

there is a good risk register. The principal risks are financial, Bank Debt, CEO contract, regulation^

Strategic Plan, Capital Plan, VAT structure, FOI, pensions, employee flexibility and motivation, H&G

Fund.

Internal Audit

Mr Queally is the acting internal auditor. He reported:

• Cash – BnG has a good risk register

• Risks need to be assessed in terms of the strategic plan.

• Internal audit will meet with the risk committee.

• Risks are actively managed.

Procurement

BnG circulated a document relating to the C&AG’s evaluation of procurement procedures in BnG in

2011. BnG stated that it is not yet fully compliant on procurement procedures and gave assurances

to DAFM that it is working towards full compliance in this regard by the first quarter of 2014. BnG

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reported that it’s failure to comply with public procurement procedures did not result in any

financial loss for the Group. DAFM responded that adherence to public procurement procedures

ensured that eligible suppliers had a fair opportunity to tender for business. BnG confirmed that it

has a new procurement policy in place. It also stated that a new procurement officer has been

appointed and that there are 21 items due to go on e-tenders by the end of Quarter 1 of 2014. Some

of these will entail the establishment of panels of Contractors/Consultants for particular services,

e.g. advertising, legal, etc..

The C&AG report on the 2012 accounts will include a note that BnG is not fully compliant with public

procurement procedures

Capital Appraisal

BnG confirmed that capital appraisals have been carried out on Clonmel and Limerick stadiums.

Travel Policy

BnG confirmed it has a travel policy in place. The requirement that State Bodies adhere to policies in

this regard was discussed. DAFM advised that BnG should consider if its travel policy need to be

amended to set out when Board members are allowed to undertake official travel to events /

meetings other than BnG Board meetings.

Whistleblowers Policy

BnG will issue a reminder to staff about the BnG Whistleblowers Policy. ^

Training for Board Members

BnG stated that the process of training for Board members would commence on Tuesday 26th

November 2013. Training will be extended to include members of the audit committee.

DAFM requested that a signed copy of the corporate governance checklist be forwarded to the

Department by Friday 29th November 2013.

Borrowings

BnG provided an explanation in relation to the statement of indebtedness. A forecast cash flow

statement for Oct, Nov and Dec 2013 was circulated.

Change to Quadlinko Regulations

BnG will submit the revised text of an SI to DAFM.

Tote

BnG will forward a written submission to DAFM to request the Department of Finance to extend the

duration of their new tote license in order to make it more attractive to potential software providers

and enable BnG to secure a more competitively priced contact with a new software provider.

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Mr. Lewins outlined the potential for access to multi-million active customers in new co-mingling

ventures. BnG is in discussions with bookmakers in this regard.

Clonmel

BnG circulated a document relating to Private Stadia Support dated 20th November 2013. It included

a table giving details of the average financial support by race meeting offered to privately operated

stadia from BnG from 2010-2012.

BnG 2012 Annual Report & Accounts

BnG stated that the 2012 Accounts will be signed off on 22nd November 2013 and an e-copy of the

final draft will follow.

M.Murnane indicated that there is a change in the figures in the audited 2012 account versus the

figures stated in the unaudited accounts for 2012. BnG will forward details of these changes to

DAFM.

2012 audited accounts – points to note:

• Arrears of €2,400 in relation to CEOs pay will be corrected in the 2012 accounts.

• Benefit in Kind – €4,000

• Write down of Meelick – €975,000

• Pension liability increase -€3m

• Details of Board members interest adjusted downwards – incorrect information provided in

previous years.

Financial Performance 2013

A discussion took place on the financial performance for 2013. Mr. Murnane will provide a note for

DAFM on this subject.

r.- Mr. Walsh outlined changes that BnG plan to make in 2014 aimed at achieving efficiencies

across all BnG stadia. BnG aims to provide a branded standardised product which will improve

services and reduce costs. It also aims to close the gaps in skill sets in the organisation.

Strategic Plan

BnG’s Strategic Plan 2013-2017 was discussed. BnG will provide DAFM with an update on outturn v

forecast of Strategic Plan by the end of February 2014

BnG Pension Proposals

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• DAFM requested a copy of the C&AG’s management letter to BnG in relation to the 2011

Accounts.

• DAFM requested a document from BnG outlining the procurement issues that have arisen.

• DAFM will be monitoring the performance of BnG vis-a-vis the strategic plan

• BnG’s welfare officer will travel to Spain to assess the situation with regard to greyhound

racing there. A private individual is planning to export dogs to Spain

Anne-Marie Daly

State Bodies Section

28th November 2013

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