Below is the transcript of a speech I made recently in the Dáil on a motion which was passed (Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations) brought forward by Fine Gael to ensure funding for Bord na gCon, Irish Greyhound Board in 2017.
The greyhound industry is getting some €16 million in funding from the Government, yet within the industry we see appalling examples of animal abuse and lack of concern for animal welfare. I acknowledge that there are greyhound owners who look after their animals, but there are also those who have no compunction, no guilt, and who are always ready to sell off their unwanted greyhounds to places such as Macau. Only for animal welfare campaigners this practice would still be going on. Then there are the greyhounds who do not make the cut and who are abandoned and left to the rescue shelters to be looked after. How much of the €16 million could go to the animal rescue centres? This is an industry in which attendance is down, sponsorship is down and support is down. I’ve drawn the Minister of State’s attention to Australia, where the Government is leading an investigation into the industry.
Another aspect of cruelty; live hare coursing, there are so many examples of the hare, the gentlest of animals, being tossed, mauled, injured, killed and terrorised in the name of so-called entertainment. There was the most recent savagery in Rathdowney Coursing Club in County Laois, where the 78 hares in the compound were killed by dogs. This is not an isolated incident. There are other such examples and independent evidence to support it. The coursing gangs illegally capture hares and use them to blood greyhounds. They are given carte blanche to do as they please. I want to know where this fits into the “social and cultural fabric of the country”. The Minister of State mentioned good governance, but I want to see a commitment to the principles of animal welfare and the eradication of the blatant cruelty to animals we see in the greyhound industry.