Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has defended his role in the controversial re-appointment of the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland.

Brian Kavanagh was reappointed for a third term as CEO of HRI, even though Government guidelines on chief executives of semi-State bodies say they should serve no more than one seven-year term.

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Mr Creed told the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine that he was satisfied that the necessary statutory provisions were observed and the board had decided to re-appoint the CEO, but acknowledged that “there was an issue with the sequencing of events”.

He told the committee that the board had not had a formal discussion on the case for re-appointment prior to the submission of the request for ministerial consent.

"This was most unfortunate and it certainly would have been more appropriate in my view to have had such a formal discussion at board level before the necessary ministerial consents was sought," Mr Creed said.

He said the appointment of the CEO of HRI can only be affected by its board and there could never have a question of such an appointment being made without board approval.

He added that he was advised by HRI that the board was satisfied that this was the best outcome.

Minister Creed was pressed by members of the committee on the sequence of events which led to the controversial reappointment of Mr Kavanagh. 

Labour's Willie Penrose said despite a board meeting today of HRI, he was aware that some members had still not seen the business plan which supported the re-appointment of Mr Kavanagh. 

Sinn Féin's Martin Kenny called for the business plan to be made available to the committee.

In response to Fianna Fáil's Charlie McConalogue, Minister Creed said that when he received a letter from the chair of HRI, it was a reasonable assumption to make that the chair speaks on behalf of the board.  

Minister Creed said he would have preferred if the board had been consulted and he was then asked for his consent.  

He was also pressed on Mr Kavanagh's contract. In response to Independents4Change TD Clare Daly, he said they did amend the re-newed contract in respect of entitlement to bonuses and other issues.  

Before the hearing ended tonight, Chair of the Committee Pat Deering agreed to members' requests to invite the HRI board to appear before them. 

Mr Deering said:"We will be writing to Horse Racing Ireland requesting that the chairman and board members come before the Committee in order to further clarify the sequence of events."