The new CEO of the Irish Greyhound Board, Bord na gCon, is Gerard Dollard, currently assistant chief executive and director of economic development with Clare County Council.
Next September, he will take over as head of the Irish semi-state body, which is responsible for regulating and promoting greyhound racing in Ireland since 1958.
Having spent the past 35 years with the local authority, he is stepping down from his Clare County Council position, which includes responsibility for economic development, tourism and planning in the municipal district of Ennis.
A native of Limerick city, Mr Dollard has close connections with Clare, as both his parents, now deceased, were from the county. His father, Patrick, was from Erinagh, Fountain, and his mother was Mary Murphy from The Hand.
He was also related to the late Sean Ó Murchú, the widely-known county council planning officer officer for many years.
Mr Dollard commenced his local authority career with Limerick Corporation and, after 15 years, joined Clare County Council as finance officer in 1997.
Since then, he has held the position of director of service for the environment and emergency services and director of service for community and enterprise. He has also played a key role in the promotion and development of internationally famous tourism projects, such as the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and the UNESCO Burren Geopark. He has also been associated with the promotion of Loop Head Lighthouse as a visitor centre and was associated with the transfer of Shannon Town to Clare County Council.
Mr Dollard has been heavily involved in the promotion of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis in 2016 and again this year.
He told The Clare Champion this week, “The future looks bright for the Irish Greyhound Board and I am looking forward to being part of it.”
In a statement, Bord na gCon said Mr Dollard will now lead the organisation, with overall responsibility for 16 racing tracks, IGB and private, in Ireland. The industry provides direct and indirect employment for several thousand people. The IGB itself employs 800 full and part-time staff. The industry supplies raw materials, in the form of greyhounds, to greyhound racing internationally, with over 83% of greyhounds racing in the UK bred in Ireland.
Phil Meaney, chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, welcomed the appointment of the new CEO.
“The Irish greyhound industry is undergoing rapid change and is moving into a more positive space, after a number of difficult years. Ger Dollard has a proven, relevant skillset, as the Irish Greyhound Board looks to the future of the industry. Our ambition is to deliver a commercial, well-regulated greyhound and breeding industry and a customer-centred, exciting and value-led entertainment experience.The board and I look forward to working with Gerard to realise these objectives,” he said.
In Bord na gCon, Mr Dollard takes over from Dr Sean Brady, interim CEO since Geraldine Larkin resigned as CEO last December.
The new CEO joins Bord na gCon in challenging times for the greyhound industry. Controversy over the closure and subsequent sale by the IGB of one of its Dublin stadiums, Harold’s Cross, to reduce the board’s legacy debt of €20.3m resulted in protests from members of the Dublin Owners and Breeders Association (DGOBA). Pickets were placed outside Shelbourne Park, preventing racing from taking place in the stadium for a number of weeks. On June 15 last, the Irish Greyhound Board welcomed the decision by DOGBA, following mediation and a ballot, to support the resumption of live racing at the stadium.
Earlier, Bord na gCon also welcomed the consent of Agriculture Minister Michael Creed for the purchase of the Harold’s Cross stadium by the Department of Education and Skills, subject to the terms agreed.
Dr Brady said, “The sale will open a new chapter of opportunity for all involved in the Irish greyhound industry. The IGB will now be in a position,once the sale and purchase have been completed, to progress debt-free with a robust business plan to invest in rebuilding our industry so as to bring new incentive and growth to the sector.”