Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Greyhound Racing Bill 2018: Second Stage
The Bill arises from the Indecon report, which was more or less a review of Bord na gCon's activities and functions. I welcome the thrust of the Bill. If amendments are required to tidy parts of it up as it progresses through the Stages, I hope that they will be accepted.
The main point is it is an industry in itself. As the Minister of State stated, the number of people actively involved in and making a living from the greyhound industry has to be acknowledged. It means money for the economy and a boost to local areas. In my area, for example, we have a big greyhound track at Curraheen Park in Cork and a small greyhound track in Youghal. They are trying to secure television coverage of their races from SIS, a sports television company. This would generate money for them to subsidise facilities and attract more punters because attendances are admittedly low. To be a bit parochial, the difference between the Youghal and Cork tracks is that the big track in Cork has hospitality services at the track which attracts a crowd.
Regulations were required because there were some bad scandals. There was a case of alleged doping in Cork. If something is done wrong, we need to have a copperfastened and proper procedure in place so that people are either fined or exonerated and cases do not have to go to the High Court or Supreme Court for a final decision. We should have a proper regulatory system in place which can reach a final decision and ensure the greyhound racing industry's name is not tarnished.
We also must facilitate the bookmakers who are an invaluable part of the industry. They ensure proper competition on the track. It is worrying to see only one bookmaker at some tracks. We need to ensure that issue is addressed. I do not know how the Minister of State will do that. Obviously, one way of doing so would be to get more people to attend greyhound races. As we make the industry more attractive, I hope we will get more people into the stands.
As I said, greyhound racing is a business, with dog trainers, breeders and the owners. There is considerable interest in racing in my area. Many syndicates are formed because the cost of training dogs is as high as training horses.
The Fianna Fáil Party hopes the Bill will progress as quickly as possible. As our spokesperson, Deputy Cahill, said, we support it and, as Fianna Fáil spokesman on sport, I welcome it.