The Dáil is to debate an opposition bill calling for the ending of State funding for the greyhound industry next week.
This week the Oireachtas accepted a motion proposing an increase in the Horse and Greyhound Fund of €12 million, bringing the overall total of that funding to €96 million, €19.2 million of which would be earmarked for the greyhound industry here.
The motion is to be laid before the Agriculture committee next Tuesday before it returns to the Dáil, where it is expected to be debated but not voted upon.
The Social Democrats’ private members’ bill will be laid before the Dáil on Wednesday morning at 10am, before a debate and a vote that evening.
It notes that State funding for the industry rose by just under €5 million between 2010 and 2020, while turnover decreased by €10.2 million between 2010 and 2017.
Greyhound Racing Ireland’s most recent annual report for 2019 was released a fortnight ago, and shows that turnover decreased again in that 12-month period by 3%. Profit was down €400,000 meanwhile to €1.4 million.
The private members’ bill calls for the increase of €2.4 million for 2021 per the Horse and Greyhound Fund to be waived, for all current funding to be diverted towards the welfare of animals bred for racing, and for the entire fund for greyhound racing to be “phased out” by 2025.
Asked for comment on the bill, Gerard Dollard, CEO of Greyhound Racing Ireland, did not deal with the proposed legislation directly, but said that “the greyhound industry delivers an economic impact of €302 million to the national economy with 12,371 people deriving economic benefit from the industry”.
“It is RCE’s intent to continue with the progressive advancement of the sport and wider industry which is a very significant industry particularly in rural areas,” he added.
Social Democrats TD for Cork South West Holly Cairns said the State funding of the sport had “always flabbergasted” her.
“I could never understand how public money was pumped into a loss-making industry. And then there’s the RTE documentary,” she said, in reference to a 2019 programme which alleged that as many as 6,000 greyhounds bred each year in Ireland, up to half the annual stock, were being culled due to low performance standards.