Legendary sportsman Jimmy Barry Murphy has spoken out about what he termed the “quite disgraceful tactic of intimidation” employed, over the past couple of years, against people in the greyhound industry by those who wish to have the sport banned.
Contributing to the Irish Greyhound Owners’ and Breeders’ Federation’s new series of videos which have been produced to promote the sport, Barry Murphy accepted the right to protest but admitted to feeling “very strongly” about the manner in which a recent campaign against the sport has been run, and he asked for even those politicians who are opposed to the sport to denounce such tactics.
“I’ve been involved in greyhounds all my life, I grew up with them here in Cork City,” said Barry Murphy. “Rearing greyhounds and racing them at the old Cork track, on the Western Road, was a huge part of my upbringing and I loved it – still do.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for the greyhound industry. It’s been targeted, certainly, by an element that want to get greyhound racing banned. They’ve targeted sponsors - which is a very serious issue for all of us because it’s the lifeblood of the game - and not in a very nice way.
“For example, I know of a number of prominent business people in Cork City and county, fantastic business people who had a genuine interest in greyhound racing and resulting from that they would sponsor stakes here in Curraheen Park or in Youghal Greyhound Track.
“Their names were being targeted by people and it resulted in their staff being intimidated, constant phone calls to their place of work, with the result that these sponsors could not subject their staff to any more of that type of harassment.
“In the event of that, they had to withdraw sponsorship from the game here. It was a quite disgraceful tactic of intimidation of some of these people, something I feel very strongly about.
“Every person is entitled to oppose any sport they like, but it must be done legitimately.
“And I have no problem with people objecting to greyhound racing whatsoever if they wish to do it in a lawful and legitimate way. But some of the tactics that have been employed against greyhound people and supporters in the last couple of years have been disgraceful.
“Some of the politicians who are against greyhound racing should clarify that this kind of carry-on is not acceptable, the same as we accept that legitimate protest is perfectly acceptable to us as well.”
Barry Murphy, who has legendary status amongst the sports enthusiasts of his native county, and beyond, added: “The welfare of the greyhound is paramount in this industry. All I can speak of is the people I know in the game, and some of the most fantastic people and decent people I have ever been involved with in any sport are involved in greyhound racing.
“The welfare issue is a huge thing, because people in the greyhound game that I know absolutely adore their greyhounds. They’re treated fantastically. Nothing would come in the way of them being properly fed, looked after. The treatment and conditioning of them is second to none.”