Redirect greyhound funding to environmental NGOs, say Greens

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

July 1st, 2019

The Green Party has called on the State to redirect funding for greyhound racing to animal welfare and environmental groups after RTÉ Investigates revealed animal abuse within the industry.

Last week’s RTÉ exposé revealed exploitation and mistreatment of greyhounds, prompting a public outcry over 6,000 unnecessary deaths of greyhounds that are trained to partake in the industry.

The Greens has urged the Government to take immediate action and suspend State funding for the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB), reasoning that the organisation has failed to manage the “rogue element” of the industry.

The greyhound racing industry receives €16.8 in Government funding each year, while the environmental NGO sector is granted around €1.5 million annually, the Greens said.

The Green Party’s spokesperson for Community Affairs, Councillor Malcolm Noonan said that environmental NGOs are facing mounting pressure and abuse while working to save animals, yet they receive paltry funding that is insufficient for such cause.

“This industry receives over 16m euro annually in State funding while animal welfare charities across the country are bursting at the seams with dogs rescued from euthanasia due to being too slow for racing,” he said.

“If the Government were to substantially increase the funding to the groups that make up the Irish Environmental Network, you would instantly see a professionalisation of the sector.

“This would mean jobs in rural areas, and this would also give such groups the capacity to run effective fundraising which could double the government investment,” he continued.

Mr Noonan also called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed TD to scrutinise the industry over issues raised in the RTÉ broadcast.

“We hope that the programme will act as a catalyst for the seismic shift that is required to move Ireland towards a more humane society when it comes to animal welfare,” he said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD responded to concerns in the Dail last week, stating that the Government will act “on the evidence that was put forward” in the RTÉ broadcast.

The Tánaiste highlighted the cruelty of putting animals down without “the supervision of a vet”, describing the practice as “unacceptable”.

“The days of sending a dog to the Knackery or to the abattoir are long since over or they should be, illegal activity will be pursued,” he said.

“We have the animal welfare legislation in place and new legislation for the greyhound industry to be able to ensure we have a proper, transparent system.”

On Saturday, dozens of protestors gathered outside Curraheen road greyhound track in county Cork and called on State to boycott industry.

Since the RTÉ programme aired last week, several active sponsors of greyhound racing have expressed shock and disgust, stating that they may review their decisions to support the industry.

Bookmaker Boylesports said in a statement that it was “appalled” to see the disturbing details that the RTÉ programme revealed.

“The welfare of greyhounds and the sustainable development of the industry is the prime concern of most participants in the sector, and it is unfortunate that the actions of a number of individuals should mar the sector as a whole,” the statement read.

The company added that all of its sponsorships contracts, which includes its commitment to greyhound racing industry, were already under review due to recent changes in the betting tax regime introduced by the State in the last budget.

“Boylesports is engaging with the Irish Greyhound Board on the future development of the sector to ensure the safeguarding of greyhounds and the future of Irish greyhound racing.”

FBD Insurance, another major sponsor of the sport, announced that it has already cut ties with the industry in Kilkenny and is considering a national boycott. Barry’s Tea has also said that it is evaluating its previous decision to sponsor the sport.

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.