Entrants to this year’s Rose of Tralee have been subjected to “malicious online threats” due to the event’s association with dog racing, according to the Irish Greyhound Board which has pulled its sponsorship of the festival.
The board and the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium announced it would “reluctantly withdraw financial support from the 2019 Rose of Tralee Festival” following engagement and consultation with festival organisers.
The claims of online threats come in the wake of an RTÉ Investigates documentary that raised animal- welfare concerns in the greyhound industry and which led to a number of sponsors pulling their support of the sector.
“Many festival ambassadors, including the roses themselves, have been the subject of malicious online threats in recent weeks which the Rose of Tralee Festival and the Irish Greyhound Board find totally unacceptable. The Irish Greyhound Board respects the right to protest but this must be done in a peaceful manner, including in online fora and on social media,” the board said in a statement.
The Irish Examiner understands some entrants to the festival have received emails and messages to their social media accounts about the Rose of Tralee’s links with the greyhound industry.
Host Dáithí Ó Sé was sent a tweet asking him if he would continue to compere the event after the revelations in the documentary.
“If you do you also have blood on your hands,” the tweet read. The festival’s Facebook page has been inundated with dozens of negative reviews since the airing of the documentary, calling on the Rose of Tralee to end its association with the greyhound industry.
“Do your contestants fully understand that by participating they are in fact supporting the vile industry of greyhound racing?”, one post read.
Another read: “Disgusting that you support vile greyhound industry. Shame on all of you. Nothing beautiful about abuse of god’s beautiful creatures.”
An online petition entitled “Roses are red, greyhounds are dead” has accumulated more than 2,000 signatories calling on the organisers to decline participating in any dog racing as part of the festival celebrations. A Rose of Tralee spokesperson said the festival would not comment on the development.