Don’t drive greyhound racing round the bend

I WISH to refer to recent speculation regarding a possible cut in the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund which would have devastating consequences for greyhound racing throughout Ireland.

There is already a drop of 9% in the fund for 2009 which resulted in a e2m rationalisation programme by the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB).

Greyhound racing generates upwards of 11,000 full and part-time jobs and more than e500m in economic activity. It supports more jobs than at any single multinational company based in Ireland at present. In addition, upwards of e7m was raised by greyhound stadia last year — this was critical funding for local charitiy and sporting organisations throughout Ireland. The IGB is one of the most progressive semi-state organisations and in 2008 alone, more than 13,000 French holidaymakers came to our greyhound stadiums in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland. Already plans for 2009 are being rolled out to include visitors from Spain, Italy, South Africa and Scandanavia. In addition, e500,000 was generated in betting revenue from Sweden and the new IGB portal for live betting at its main stadia will ensure even bigger markets such as Britain and France.

This progressive industry is critical to sustain economic activity in rural communities troughout the country.

I call on the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen to ensure greyhound racing is fully supported and encouraged for the future. He cannot run with the hare and race with the hound. Too many jobs depend on its survival.

Teddy Foley

St John’s Park

Tralee

Co Kerry

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