Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Greyhound Racing Industry: Discussion

2:00 pm

Photo of Denis LandyDenis Landy (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State and acknowledge that he took up his current portfolio when the greyhound industry was a basket case, and there is no saying otherwise. He took on this portfolio, grasped the nettle and initiated the Indecon report. The turnover of the tote was €50 million in 2006 but it dropped to €20 million in 2013. Bord na gCon has put forward its strategic plan and predicted that there will be a turnover of €28 million by 2017, which is an increase of 34%. Based on the figures so far this year and the premise that there will be a turnaround, can the Minister of State confirm whether Bord na gCon can achieve such an increase?

I wish to reflect on the comments the Minister of State made about communication. He stated that in this context, he would urge the board to consider how it might improve communications to the industry in relation to the implementation of Indecon. I must acknowledge that he has communicated with, and met, the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation on a number of occasions at my request. In some cases, the message communicated to him at these meetings seems to be lost in transit before it reaches the board and there seems to be no closing of the communications circle. The Minister of State is very strong on this issue, so I would like him to comment on how best we can improve communications. This is not about blaming anybody but about improving the communications system in place and informing people about the improvements and, in many cases, the upgrades that have taken place, which the Minister of State outlined.

I welcome the fact the Minister of State has taken a number of measures.

The veterinary and legal expertise on the board are very important. I recognise that the Morris report is being examined but when will we see the board's response to the report? That is dragging on and it is important that people in the industry see that action needs to be, and will be taken, based on the Morris report. I recognise that the results of tests for prohibited substances have been published on the Bord na gCon website but we get this information piecemeal and in order for the industry to improve all this information must come out. The Minister of State cannot micro manage the industry. That is not his job. It is his job to take an overall view, appraise the situation and deal with it as time moves on and as we see progress. The stark fact is that Indecon has recommended 27 improvements and changes. How many has the board implemented? The Minister of State told me months ago that he was pushing for extra Exchequer funding for 2016. He said here today: "I want to see this funding used to stimulate participation in racing and breeding through the provision of grants for prize money, and I would like to see this incentive filter through to small as well as larger races." That is critical to the future of the industry. Will the Minister of State elaborate on how he can ensure that happens in 2016, through his role, charged with providing the funding, which he has done, providing €14.8 million? A great deal of improvement is needed, including legislation, which the Minister of State has alluded to. We need to see it on the Statute Book. I look forward to his bringing the heads of the Bill to this committee and the Dáil and Seanad.


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