Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Greyhound Racing Bill 2018: Second Stage
I am glad to get the opportunity to welcome this Bill. Anything that helps to strengthen and ensure the continuation of this valuable industry must be welcomed. There are many issues we hope the legislation will address. It must first strengthen the industry and eliminate illegal activities, of which there have been a few examples. There is a need to regulate the sale of greyhounds both here and abroad. There should be guidelines for the keeping and training of greyhounds for reward. All of this seems to be in the Bill and we hope it will bring about a constructive process, with people being rewarded by the legislation's fair enactment.
The setting up of the new board will be very important. We recognise the change of the name to Rásaíocht Con Éireann; it has been changed from Bord na gCon because of the problems with the old board. Many people were up here a year or so ago complaining about doping and illegal activities, so we hope the Bill will help eliminate all those activities and give people who love the industry and their dogs the chance to be treated fairly, whether it is in racing, training or whatever side of the industry in which they are involved.
This activity is taken very seriously in most of our county. We could start in Castleisland and Tralee in north Kerry before going back around Ardfert and Ballyheigue and coming to Scartaglin, Cordal and Gneeveguilla. Mr. Tim Kelly lives in Headford and gives every free minute he has to the industry, despite rearing a big family. He works so hard, even with a day job and his big family, and he really lives for his dogs. He may not have many neighbours at it where he lives but it does not make a difference to him.
He is just an example of someone who treats his dogs and takes his business so seriously. We hope that this new set-up will help fellows like him. As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said, we are so lucky to have the Kingdom racetrack in Tralee where so many people raising funds for important things have race nights and raise up to €30,000 or €40,000. It provides money for communities that need it, whether for sports halls or all kinds of different things or for people who are in trouble with their health or whatever. This racetrack is a place for them to make money and people go to support these race nights and at the same time get enjoyment out of them. Even in the heart of south Kerry into Cahirciveen, through Killorglin, we remember people like Chubb O'Connor who was a Member of the Dáil for 20 or 21 years. He made history with great dogs. David Cahill was very famous in Chicago. He was known as "Red David". He won fierce races in America and in Ireland. Indeed the great Noel Browne, who carries on the great tradition and works so hard in Castleisland, is a mighty operator and has won the biggest of races in Clonmel in the past year or two.
There are people who have given their lives to their dogs, to be honest about it. It is good that we are recognising the need for proper regulation and assistance for these people who provide a great sport – and it is a sport for people to enjoy. I am very proud to be involved with so many of those people around the county because they are great people. As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said, we can judge a person by how they treat their dogs and these people do treat their dogs very well. Hopefully there will be no place for the rogue operators. There were only a few but the investigators and authorised officers will have the powers to deal with those rogues and villains. I take this opportunity to wish all the greyhound owners in Kerry all the very best for the future.