The Irish National Stud Accounts: Notes to Note

The 2020 accounts of the Irish National Stud can be viewed at https://irishnationalstud.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/INS-CONSOL-FY20-Financial-Statements.pdf .

The accounts themselves don’t contain too many surprises but there are a few interesting revelations contained within the notes to the accounts:

  1. The Directors of the Stud during that period included Jessica Harrington and Mark Weld. They were each paid €8,100 for attending 5 meetings- so it’s a nice gig. As the above note shows, Jessie Harrington and Dermot Weld were selected to train horses owned by the INS in 2020 or 2019. Jessie and Mark Weld may have excused themselves from the deliberations regarding the selection of trainers but it’s a situation that should be avoided. A new policy should be introduced that Board members or their families are precluded from training horses of the stud. It might also be worth asking what tendering process was undertaken before deciding that the best trainers happened to be those sitting at the Board table? The amounts involved are small in the overall context of the stud but the optics in terms of ‘insiders’ are not good…

The INS could go a step further and deliberately place horses with smaller trainers/regional trainers/younger trainers. The trainers used should be rotated every few years. The loss of a few horses isn’t going to impact on a Dermot Weld or Jessie Harrington but it would be a nice boost for someone at an earlier stage of their career.

2. The stud has received a derogation from the Dept of Agriculture to avoid listing the number of employees by salary bands, which is not good practice and should be reviewed. This is the same evasion as practiced by the IHRB and prevents proper scrutiny of the appropriateness of the management structure and payscales.

3. On a positive note, the salary of the Chief Executive Cathal Beale is fully disclosed as is a requirement under the Code of Practice for Commercial State Bodies. This salary amount might attract outrage on Liveline (an Irish chat show in which the callers complain about everything) but it doesn’t seem outlandish for the role and for someone who has brought some energy to the role.

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