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 Martin HeydonMartin Heydon (Kildare South, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State for his detailed presentation. I acknowledge his leading role in commissioning the Indecon report which has looked into many concerns with a view to improving the industry which, like the horse racing industry, employs many people in areas where there is very little other economic activity. With over 10,000 people employed in the sector it is an industry, not just a sport. That is why it is important that it falls within the remit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I am happy that change has been made.

Will there be pre-legislative scrutiny of the Greyhound Industry (Amendment) Bill 2014 in this committee? The Minister of State mentioned the explicit provision for penalties in primary legislation. Will that be part of the Bill? Is that how the penalties will be introduced?

The Minister of State touched on most of the big issues in his address, from regulation to welfare to funding, which is a very significant issue. Will he comment on some of the key statistics too, the number of active owners, the greyhounds mated and litters? There has been a significant drop in percentages between 2006 and 2013. The recession had a big impact on this industry, as it did on the horse racing industry, and many people who could not afford to remain in the industry left. A decrease of 42% in active owners is not sustainable and is very serious, in addition to the 34% decrease in greyhounds mated and a 36% decrease in litters. The Minister of State has outlined several actions that have taken place already. What expectation does he have that the board will carry out further actions?

As one who owns a leg of a dog which had great success at the Cox Cup in Newbridge this year, I know the importance of the Harold’s Cross stadium to those in the industry. Does the Minister of State see any alternative to it while acknowledging that there is significant debt which will have to be addressed?

Is it an option to save the track at Harold's Cross? Would the Minister of State have a view on how we would eliminate the shortfall of €22 million as the debt could put the industry at risk?


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