Irish taxpayers’ money funding horse racing prizes

31 Oct

Horse racing received a massive 64 million euro in the 2017 Budget – the latest chunk of taxpayers’ cash handed over by the government to the racing industry. Speaking in Dail Eireann last Thursday, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim) revealed that most of this grant ends up as prize money for horse races.

“Most of the funding provided by the State to Horse Racing Ireland is then given for the prize funds used in the big races,” he said in a statement to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. “We see the millionaires in the rings walking around getting taxpayers’ money. It is in fact a big amount of state money being transferred into the hands of a very wealthy elite. To just hand this group of people over this amount of money and walk away is totally inappropriate.”

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly (Dublin Fingal) is calling for an independent enquiry into Horse Racing Ireland – “There’s a huge amount of people being lost, serious workplace claims and so on. There’s something not right in that organisation.”

Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, she said that since 2011, Horse Racing Ireland has received almost €250 million. Referring to the performance of board members at a committee meeting, she said “while they were certainly interested in horse racing, their level of professionalism or, rather, lack of, was utterly shocking.”

Extracts from the exchange between the TDs and Minister Creed were featured on RTE’s Oireachtas Report.

Read the full text of the exchange at (Martin Kenny TD) (Clare Daly TD)

Later that same day, Martin Kenny TD was pushing for additional funding to be given to sulky racing/harness racing (in which horses pull a rider on a 2-wheeled sulky cart) which has already received more than €20,000 of taxpayers’ money.

The Sinn Fein TD asked Minister Creed “his plans to provide funding to the Irish Harness Racing Association following its provision of a training course to encourage participants in the sport to come off-road and use safer regulated facilities”.

“It has great potential here so it would be appropriate to try to put a small amount of money towards it at this time,” he told Minister Creed. “Those concerned are not looking for much; they have applied for under €60,000. If this could be allocated to them until they get the industry established, it is quite likely they will be able to develop a self-financing industry in the near future, as in other sectors. The industry needs to be kick-started. We are talking about priming the pump. It would be appropriate to try to do that. Harness racing provides a great social service, as the Minister is aware. People who have engaged in harness racing on the roads in the past, including those from the Traveller community, are trying to regulate the industry, get it indoors and make it something everyone can enjoy and in which everyone can participate. It is an industry that requires a very small amount of money compared to many others. It would be very appropriate to fund it at this time.”

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