I am aware of the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Horse Sport Ireland is approved to maintain the Irish horse draught studbook since 2008. The Department has received applications to maintain a studbook for the Irish draught horse breed from the Irish Draught Horse Society Limited and also from the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association.
The Irish draught horse studbook was first established by the Department of Agriculture in 1917 and was maintained by the Department up to the formation of Bord na gCapall in 1970. Bord na gCapall held the studbook from 1970 to 1989. The Department maintained the Irish draught studbook from then until 1993, when the Irish Horse Board was approved under EU legislation to do so. When the Irish Horse Board became part of Horse Sport Ireland in 2008, the Department then approved HSI, Horse Sport Ireland, to maintain the studbook. Horse Sport Ireland comprises a board of directors, who are representatives of the various affiliated bodies. One of the objectives in establishing Horse Sport Ireland was to bring together the breeding, sport and leisure sides of the industry. In respect of breeding, five members of the Horse Sport Ireland board are nominated from the breeding sub-board. The breeding sub-board is the board of the Irish Horse Board. The board of the Irish Horse Board is composed of 13 members, three of whom are nominated by the Minister and the remaining ten are voted in by the members of the Irish Horse Board, in each of the five electoral regions, for a period of four years.
The breeding sub-board formulates the breeding policy for the Irish draught horse studbook. Any paid up member of the Irish Horse Board is entitled to put himself or herself forward for election in his or her region. Therefore, breeders of Irish draught horses have the opportunity, through democratic elections, to have an input into the breeding policy for their breed.
In June 2009, HSI established an Irish draught horse breeding policy taskforce. The aim of the task force is to examine the breeding policy for the Irish draught horse and to preserve and improve the breed. The task force has five members, specifically chosen by HSI for their expertise in Irish draught breeding. Horse Sport Ireland invited submissions from interested parties and I understand that a total of 12 were returned. In November 2009, HSI published a draft policy and the task force then invited further submissions on the draft task force report and 39 submissions were received on this.
In addition, Horse Sport Ireland has published a strategic plan for the period 2009-12. This strategic plan makes specific reference to developing a sustainable breeding policy for the Irish draught breed in association with Irish draught breeders. Work on this plan is already well under way and I understand that a number of public information meetings on this will take place.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
In late 2009 and early 2010, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food considered the issue of who should maintain the studbook for the Irish draught horse. The committee received presentations from Horse Sport Ireland, HSI, the Irish Draught Horse Society and the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association, and from my Department.
In the course of an earlier exchange of correspondence with the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Minister, Deputy Smith, indicated that the Department would give due consideration to any application it receives from any organisation to maintain a studbook for a particular breed. He has now received a further communication from the joint committee, requesting that he give favourable consideration to its recommendation regarding the allocation of the Irish draught horse studbook to the Irish Draught Horse Society.
The function of my Department in studbooks is to approve organisations and associations for the purposes of maintaining studbooks and to ensure that they comply with the legislation. The Department has been involved in the approval of organisations to maintain studbooks since 1992, when the European Commission introduced legislation harmonising the rules in this area.
The approval of organisations to maintain studbooks in Ireland is governed by the provisions of SI 399 of 2004 European Communities (Equine Stud-Book and Competition) Regulations, as amended, which transposes Commission Decision 92/353/EEC which "lays down the criteria for the approval or recognition of organisations or associations which maintain or establish stud-books for registered equidae".
Prior to 2009, the Department had not received an application or request from an Irish draught horse organisation seeking approval to maintain the studbook. In July 2009, the Irish Draught Horse Society Limited submitted an application to the Department seeking approval to maintain a studbook for the Irish draught breed. The Department has been in correspondence with the society since then and is currently considering a number of submissions from the society on that application. In March 2010, my Department received an application to maintain a studbook for the Irish draught breed from the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association.
The Department is now reviewing these applications and a decision on them will issue in due course.