I hope that politicians of all shades watched the RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme on the greyhound industry. They’ll have seen what hard-earned taxpayer’s money is helping to promote: A discredited industry that many of them have, year after year, blithely praised in the Oireachtas for its alleged contribution to Irish culture and the rural economy.
The programme effectively exposed what campaigners like me have been asserting for years. We were laughed at by the head honchos in the industry. Well-crafted press releases thrashed all the allegations concerning the fate of greyhounds that are cruelly disposed of once their running days are over.
Watching the programme, it was stomach-churning to be reminded of the over-breeding leading to massive culling of these dogs that make wonderful pets; animals whose service and loyalty to their owners is rewarded with a bullet in the head.
Stories have been circulating for years about shallow graves unearthed all over Ireland containing the sad remains of greyhounds. Just isolated incidents, the industry protested, adding that the vast majority of greyhound owners care deeply for their animals. Now we have the truth, in all its stark ugliness.
It turns out that the scene in the darkly comic movie Man About Dog, where the two lads, wielding spades, take an underperforming greyhound away to be clobbered was a reasonably accurate depiction of how the industry operates.
And then there’s hare coursing, which is perfectly legal and an integral part of the industry. Thousands of hares are snatched from the countryside each year to serve as live bait for dogs.
Though muzzled, the dogs can maul the hares or crush their bones. Or they can toss them about on the coursing fields, to a chorus of cheering from the fans. Animal welfare observers who have attempted to record coursing events have been threatened with violence and forcibly removed from the venues — for filming a “sport” whose top brass claims it has nothing to hide.
Some “industry”. It should not receive a single cent of taxpayers’ money, let alone the €16m or so doled out to it annually, thanks to the backing of fawning politicians who, up to now, have chosen to ignore its dark side.
Following this latest hard-hitting report, the Government and opposition parties can no longer claim ignorance of the facts.
It’s time to dismantle the greyhound industry and phase it out completely, as our agriculture minister pledged recently to do with fur farming.
Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 1 July 2019.