PAC puts Irish Sport Horse Project under scrutiny

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 09 December 2009

Reference: PAC 06/09/10

A final report into the Irish Sports Horse Project, which received £3.3 million of European Union funding, has today been published by the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee.

The Committee had twice examined the project in 2001, and this report completes its investigation into the scheme.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Paul Maskey MLA, Chairperson of the Committee, said: “The Committee has been looking at this project over a number of years — we held two meetings in 2001 and a subsequent one in the last session. While it is unusual for one project to be the subject of three evidence sessions, our most recent hearing reflected our concerns over the way issues had been dealt with following the earlier sessions.

“For example, in 2006, a departmental review found that delivering equine breeding and testing at two sites—the Department’s Enniskillen campus and Necarne— was costing more than necessary. Two years later, in 2008, the Department calculated that it could save over £165,000 a year by concentrating all equine provision at its Enniskillen campus.

“To our dismay, during our most recent evidence session, we found that public funds will continue to be wasted on the Necarne lease until at least 2012 when the Department hopes to agree the termination of the lease with the Council. In our view, the slow progress with which this matter has been pursued by the Department is unacceptable.

“The Committee was also disappointed to learn that an Equine Technology Centre, constructed in 2000 at a cost of £160,000, has never been used. Scarce resources have been wasted, and an opportunity to help the local equine industry has been missed.”

ENDS

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