Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2016: Motion
That Dáil Éireann approves the following Regulations in draft:Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2016,copies of which were laid in draft form before Dáil Éireann on 21 November 2016.
The most recent estimates available suggest the horse and greyhound racing industries combined underpin more than 24,000 jobs and stimulate approximately €1.6 billion in economic output. The Estimates for my Department, passed by both Houses as part of budget 2017, include an allocation of €80 million for the horse and greyhound racing fund. This will be distributed in accordance with section 12(6) of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001, with 80%, some €64 million, going to HRI, Horse Racing Ireland, and 20%, some €16 million, to Bord na gCon.
To allow my Department to provide the moneys allocated in budget 2017, it is necessary to comply with the technical requirement under section 12(13) of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, to increase the cumulative limit on the amount payable from the horse and greyhound racing fund by €80 million to €1.118 billion. This is achieved by way of the regulations submitted to this House today. The aggregate limit on the horse and greyhound racing fund has been increased in this manner in 2004 and from 2009 to 2015, inclusive.
It is estimated the Irish bloodstock industry provides 14,000 jobs and contributes almost €1.1 billion to the economy. In 2015, bloodstock export sales rose to €268 million in what was a remarkable year for the Irish bloodstock industry. Ireland holds a distinguished position in the thoroughbred racing world, being the largest producer of thoroughbred foals in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Approximately 40% of the EU output of thoroughbreds and 11% of the total worldwide are produced in Ireland.
The greyhound racing sector is also an important driver of employment and economic activity in both rural and urban areas. A report by the economist Jim Power in 2010 estimated the greyhound industry employed over 10,300 people and contributed an estimated €500 million in economic output to local economies around tracks which have a wide geographic spread. As part of the Government’s commitment to the sector, its overall objective is to ensure the horse and greyhound racing industries achieve their maximum potential and, in so doing, contribute to economic and social development.
I will shortly be bringing forward the heads of a greyhound industry Bill to ensure the principles of good governance and regulation are clearly and unambiguously laid down in primary legislation. In broad terms, the Bill will seek to provide a statutory framework for improved governance, tighter regulation and stronger powers to deal with breaches of the racing code. It will also address issues identified in a report authored by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in January 2016, as well as those contained in both the Indecon report and the Morris review of anti-doping and medication control. This Bill will strengthen the greyhound industry and give it the powers to deal with issues of regulation in a more effective way.
Without doubt, Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon face significant challenges as they work to grow and develop the horse and greyhound industries in an extremely competitive market segment. The €80 million allocation is vital to help secure rural jobs and sustain rural communities. Given that these two industries have footprints in many parts of rural Ireland, I am confident it is the goal of all of us here to realise fully the contribution of these sectors to the Irish economy, employment and the social and cultural fabric of the country. Accordingly, I ask Deputies for their support to ensure Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon receive the funding provided for in budget 2017 and that the very important role of these industries and the economic activity generated by them are sustained into the future. I commend this regulation to the House.
Fianna Fáil supports this motion. Both industries have attracted a lot of negative publicity in recent months. We should not lose sight of the importance of these two industries to our economy as a whole. The €80 million is money well spent. We have a bloodstock industry which is the envy of many countries around the world. We are also one of the leading countries in the greyhound business and are the envy of many countries. We see that 25 years ago London had 26 dog tracks, but come March there will be no dog tracks left there. We have to see what we have here and while everything has not been done perfectly in the past while, we recognise the great importance of our industry and the significant contribution these two industries make to our economy as a whole. While we are contributing €80 million, we have to recognise the revenue that is coming back into the Exchequer from these two industries, which is not insignificant.
Will the Minister of State look at the position of track bookmakers in regard to levy and taxation? Track bookmakers have come under increasing pressure in recent times. The number of track bookmakers at dog racing and horse racing has declined very significantly. They are an integral part of the industry. The atmosphere and entertainment value of the industry depends greatly on having track bookmakers present. Legislation needs to be changed to allow these track bookmakers to operate on a level playing field with the larger operators which are multinational companies. The one cap fits all method of taxation and levy will not work into the future for track bookmakers, so change needs to be made.
I, too, welcome this motion. The horse and greyhound sectors are important industries to the economy. The money being proposed is welcome. Many families supplement their incomes from their involvement in the horse and greyhound sector. It has to be welcomed. It shows we are backing the industry. Deputy Cahill mentioned the bookmakers. I wholeheartedly agree with him. It causes despondency to go to a greyhound track and see only one bookmaker on site. The banter usually happens when there are two or three bookmakers hitting off each other to tout in a bit of money. The online betting issue should be addressed in regard to taxation so there is a level playing field. I welcome and wholeheartedly support the motion.
I will also support this motion. I very much welcome the €80 million funding for 2017 for both the horse and greyhound industries. As has been alluded to, they provide valuable employment, particularly in rural Ireland. The figure is in the region of 24,000 people, both directly and indirectly, and that is of huge value to the rural economy.
I refer specifically to the greyhound industry because the challenges for the industry are very significant. The Minister of State will be aware that a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the greyhound industry was published in January. We need to move on that and we need to implement the legislation. I welcome that the Minister of State will be briefing interested members on the legislation at 6.30 p.m. with a view to having it in place early next year. We need to restore public confidence in the greyhound industry by ensuring there is correct governance in Bord na gCon. The testing procedures for greyhounds should be adhered to strictly in order that people have confidence that the industry is clean and well run. We also need to ensure there is value for money in the very welcome funding we are giving and that the industry rewards the Government's commitment to it. Both industries are estimated to be worth €1.1 billion to the economy. Our investment of €80 million is well rewarded, but there is still very much a need to restore public confidence in the greyhound industry and the confidence of the people who work in the industry. There are many small owners who are in it for the love of the sport and who need the backing of Bord na gCon and the legislation the Minister of State is about to implement and brief us on this evening. While the funding is welcome, there is a lot of work needed in the background. The Minister of State has my support in getting that over the line in order that we can look forward to the industry having a bright, profitable future.
The horse racing and greyhound industries not only have economic benefits but also bring great enjoyment to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland every year. I have no wish to restrict the growth or development of these industries, although I have serious doubts about the funds dispersed by Government to Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon. Every time this funding is discussed, I hear about the thousands of jobs in the industry, but sometimes I wonder about the quality of these jobs and whether they are counted as whole-time equivalents as they are in the HSE, schools and other State bodies. How many real jobs are there? Bord na gCon claims there are 10,300 people employed in the greyhound industry. I would love to know where these people work and the basis of the claim that the industry contributes €500 million to the economy each year. I am told by dog breeders and trainers that the greyhound industry is in crisis and will disappear within the decade if radical reform does not take place. According to Horse Racing Ireland, the horse racing industry employs 14,000 people and contributes €1.1 billion to the economy. With two such healthy and vibrant industries, why does the Exchequer have to hand out such an amount of money? Why does horse racing prize money, in a sport populated by very rich owners and trainers, have to come from an Exchequer which cannot pay for the basic medical needs of our senior citizens, for instance? We cannot always make those simple comparisons but for this amount of money - €80 million - there has to be clear and demonstrable benefits to society and our economy. Along with that, there must be strict adherence to corporate governance and transparency in all financial aspects of the industry. The excessive salaries and expenses being drawn down in both organisations is beyond the realm of reason and the decisions about where to spend Exchequer money will have to be examined.
It was confirmed to me at the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine that almost €3 million of taxpayers' money would be spent on the redevelopment of Galway racecourse, mainly on the construction of a champagne bar. There was a time when the people at the Galway races were happy to drink their champagne in a tent but now it seems the taxpayer has to pay for the construction of a bar for them. Is this value for money in the context of the economic hardship so many people are suffering throughout the country?
Horse Racing Ireland has been in the news over the past six months due to the manner of the reappointment of its chief executive officer for a third term. I am led to believe that the irregularities in the appointment of the CEO have continued for more than a decade, according to correspondence released by HRI and reported in The Irish Timeslast Saturday. I have raised this matter before in the House and representatives of the board of HRI attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine to inform us about this appointment. At that time, the chairman admitted quite openly that the appointment was against Government guidelines, that the CEO's salary had exceeded the Government cap and that the latest appointment was made without even a gesture towards open competition. It was suggested that the board had no option as the CEO had accrued rights with a contract of indefinite duration. This state of affairs suggests either extreme incompetence or, more probably, an intentional lapse to provide the CEO with a contract of indefinite duration allowing this situation to transpire.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the board of HRI, it seems, feel that this was acceptable behaviour. When I raised the matter in the House with the Minister, Deputy Creed, asking if, considering the blatant disregard for corporate governance displayed by the board of HRI, he would consider reviewing the amount of money the Exchequer was providing to it, he referred to my misgivings as "a fit of pique". Somebody needs to have a fit about it. I still have not been given any justification for the way this appointment was allowed, except that it seems it does not matter because they say the right man was appointed for job.
The House must exercise more vigilance regarding appointments and funds and the way in which they are expended and distributed throughout these two industries. It would be more appropriate for less Exchequer funding to go to prize money for big races, and more to other sectors of the industry such as point-to-point racing, harness racing and programmes for better breeding and husbandry, incentivising small breeders to improve their stock. It is hard to understand why there is resistance on Government benches, and presumably among Fianna Fáil Members, to increasing betting tax so the industry can be more self-funded.
Anyone who takes even a casual look at the way in which the greyhound industry is run would have to be alarmed. We have had various reports and inquiries, such as the Morris report into doping in the greyhound industry and the Indecon report into Bord na gCon which found more disregard for corporate governance and people outstaying their terms on the board. The Oireachtas joint committee published a report highlighting serious flaws in the running of the sector. The integrity of the greyhound industry is in tatters, mainly due to the seemingly laissez-faireattitude to the use of performance enhancing drugs.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain warned owners, as late as 2014, of the dangers of buying dogs from Ireland and urged all trainers to exercise caution and due diligence in assessing the drugs status of dogs they might purchase from Ireland. The use of artificial insemination, AI, straws from dogs who are more than two years deceased is illegal, yet this rule is continually flouted to the detriment of the quality and renewal of the breeding stock. This is a terrible state of affairs and it seems as if the Government turns a blind eye and does not enforce the necessary discipline and governance on the sector.
What is the rationale for the expenditure of this money? The House deserves more than a shrug from the Minister and should demand action to reverse this. Bord na gCon has failed to do its job. The recommendations of Morris, Indecon and the agriculture committee have not been implemented. The Government tells us it is preparing new legislation. There is already legislation to deal with these irregularities and it is not being used. Under these circumstances, I cannot support the funding allocation to these two bodies and I will call a vote on the matter. It is outrageous that this money is being spent in this way.
The horse and greyhound sector plays an important role throughout Ireland. It is an important contributor to the economy of rural Ireland and the enjoyment and recreation of rural life, and it supports thousands of jobs. However, the figure of 10,500 jobs in the greyhound industry is more than questionable and does not stand. Jim Power's report was produced six or seven years ago. Let us come into reality.
Given that €80 million has been allocated to the two industries, of which €60 million goes to the greyhound industry, it is important we acknowledge that it is taxpayers' funds which have been granted despite many competing demands across society for limited resources. The taxpayer is entitled to expect and get top value for money for this significant investment. I support the allocation of these necessary funds and recognise their importance. However, surely the aim of the industry is to reach a point at which it is less dependent on public funds and becomes self-financing. Representatives of the industry routinely tell us about the circular return of tax money collected from the betting industry. However, it is incorrect. Much of the betting industry is generated through a melee of other sports such as soccer, rugby and darts. Horse racing is one of the smaller contributors. Let us not cod people with lies.
I support Deputy Jackie Cahill in his point about all bookmakers being treated the same. They should be classified on the basis of turnover. Small bookmakers and offshore bookmakers are gone from the high streets. They have disappeared like nobody's business. Any bookmaker with a turnover lower than €2 million should be classified differently from the likes of Ladbrokes and BoyleSports.
HRI must ensure a value for money audit is undertaken without delay and assure people that any hiccups in corporate governance are fully addressed. We do not need any further spectacles regarding appointments at the top or elsewhere. All contractual issues should be fully complied with and should be airtight so Government policy is fully recognised as it is laid down and lessons are learned from the debacle we have witnessed. HRI must ensure adequate funding is provided to small racecourses throughout Ireland, such as Kilbeggan, Roscommon, Limerick, Sligo and Ballinrobe. This is the sport of kings, but it should not be for kings. It is time to get away from it. There is an old saying that one stops rubbing fat to the fat pig's bottom. Too many people are getting well off. It is time to get it down to the very grassroots. They wanted to bring in point-to-points under the regulation. I stopped it, and I am very proud of that.
IGB is to receive more than €280,000 per week from the taxpayer this year. A plethora of reports have pointed out significant concerning issues and shortcomings in the industry, which has alarmed many of the stakeholders. The Indecon report, the Morris report and an excellent report by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the excellent chairmanship of the Minister of State, Deputy Andrew Doyle, shone a light on significant issues in the greyhound industry in a number of areas, including integrity, doping, medication and general governance.
The heads of a new Bill for the sector will be ready to go in the new year, and the sooner the better. Hopefully, it will give us all, particularly the stakeholders in the industry, an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and tackle once and for all the use of prohibited substances and ensure welfare objectives are examined and maintained and regulatory controls are strengthened. It is timely to update the legislation. The current legislation was introduced in 1958, almost 60 years ago. No wonder things run out of control. We have two extremes. We have no regulation, or we regulate things out of existence. There is no such thing as a happy medium. This is a major fault. Bureaucrats then get in and regulate things out of existence. When all this is addressed, there will be a renewed confidence in the industry.
The stakeholders are very concerned about the future, particularly in the dog industry. The old figure of 10,500 employed in the industry is bandied about. We need full answers, not incomplete or half-baked answers. IGB must be forthcoming in addressing shortcomings and listening to concerned voices when they raise issues. They should not always question the motives of people when they raise issues. People such as Deputy Martin Kenny and others raise issues with the best of motives and I take no issue with them. The Minister has the national greyhound consultative forum which brings together all the stakeholders. It should not be just another pro formatalking shop. It should have teeth and strong powers of recommendation, which IGB should hear. IGB listens only to what it wants to listen to. It comes here and presents us with fairy tales. This must stop. There is money there and IGB must account for it in a proper and efficient way.
The motion will allocate €80 million of public funds to the horse and greyhound racing industry for "business, financial and development plans". It increases the cumulative limit in funds to over €1.1 billion. We understand 80% will be allocated to horse racing and 20% to greyhound racing. These funds are linked to the revenue received from the gambling industry and excise duty on off-course betting. This is a toxic link. It gives an incentive and a massive boost for the promotion of gambling, one of the most parasitic industries. Some reports estimate that 30% to 35% of the industry's profits come from problem gamblers. In other words, it is an industry that destroys people's lives. This link ensures profit is put at the core of the horse and greyhound industries, therefore providing incentives for cruel practices and corruption.
In recent years, there have been many scandals in the greyhound industry. As part of its anti-doping programme, IGB has reported that 1% of samples tested positive last year. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Pharmacology experts, vets and many in the industry treat those official figures with understandable scepticism. IGB's Morris report on doping has identified severe problems with anti-doping measures in the greyhound industry. The report found the national greyhound laboratory does not have facilities to test many of the drugs used to dope greyhounds.
Another major scandal in the greyhound racing industry is that of the dogs behind the scenes that never make it to the tracks. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 greyhounds retire from racing or, as is more common, are born but never make it into racing. Approximately 1,200 were homed last year, leaving 88% with an unknown fate. It must be investigated. We have had high profile cases of dogs being cruelly killed with little or no consequence for those caught. In 2014, there were only 15 investigations into welfare incidents in the industry.
It is clear that the IGB and the Government is turning a blind eye to the cruelty that exists. Furthermore, we see attempts by the top of the industry to establish new markets in east Asia, China in particular. It is clear that exports to Macau and those involving any states with poor animal rights records and no proper protection for animals should be banned. We have argued for this and will continue to do so in debate on the legislation due on the question of the greyhound industry. We will oppose the motion for these reasons and because it places further profit at the core of the industries and does nothing to tackle the cruelty and corruption involved.
The greyhound industry is getting some €16 million in funding from the Government, yet within the industry we see appalling examples of animal abuse and lack of concern for animal welfare. I acknowledge that there are greyhound owners who look after their animals, but there are also those who have no compunction and who are always ready to sell off their unwanted greyhounds to places such as Macau. Only for animal welfare campaigners this practice would still be going on. Then there are the greyhounds who do not make the cut and who are abandoned and left to the rescue shelters to be looked after. How much of the €16 million will go to the animal rescue centres? This is an industry in which attendance is down, sponsorship is down and support is down. I draw the Minister of State's attention to Australia, where the Government is leading an investigation into the industry.
To return to the other aspect of cruelty, namely, live hare coursing, there are so many examples of the hare, the gentlest of animals, being tossed, mauled, injured, killed and terrorised in the name of so-called entertainment. There was the most recent savagery in Rathdowney Coursing Club in County Laois, where the 78 hares in the compound were killed by dogs. This is not an isolated incident. There are other such examples and independent evidence to support it. The coursing gangs illegally capture hares and use them to blood greyhounds. They are given carte blancheto do as they please. I want to know where this fits into the "social and cultural fabric of the country". The Minister of State mentioned good governance, but I want to see a commitment to the principles of animal welfare and the eradication of the blatant cruelty to animals we see in the greyhound industry.
I agree with the points made by my colleague. The idea of giving taxpayers' money to Bord na gCon, an organisation which oversees the barbarism of hare coursing, is absolutely abhorrent. We know from the scandal that engulfed Horse Racing Ireland earlier in the year that the organisation is incapable of handling public money. We must ask ourselves why we are doing this. Why is a salary of €247,000 for the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, way above the pay cap, being sanctioned? When the scandal broke in the autumn, the excuse given was that Mr. Kavanagh had a contract of indefinite duration, but the lobbying started long before there was even a whiff of his first contract. The documents revealing correspondence back to 2003 are very serious not only for the industry, but also the Department. It seems incredible that in 2010 the Department accepted HRI's contention that Mr. Kavanagh was covered by the transfer of undertakings directive, TUPE, when he was not. He had voluntarily left the Turf Club in 2001 to apply to become the first CEO of HRI, so TUPE did not even exist or apply in this case. The Department surely could have queried this.
The issue before us is the fact that in the period 2001-16, €1.3 billion has been given to the horse and greyhound racing industries. This is some amount of public money to be given to two commercial enterprises which base themselves on the exploitation of animals for profit - not only animals, but also people. There is a scandal much more significant than that which engulfed the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland earlier this year. I refer to the scandal of the working conditions of people in the industry, which are not only illegal and immoral, but also potentially criminal. The idea of our sanctioning a cent of public money for these organisations is utterly abhorrent. Stable staff are treated in complete breach of the Organisation of Working Time Act, which is being ignored. The vast majority of these people never get two days off in a row, they never get a full weekend off unless they are on holiday and they are not paid for the travel involved in their work. Given the number of hours they are forced to work, it is very likely many are paid less than the minimum wage, which is not only illegal but also a criminal offence.
I put the House on notice that come early next year when we return I will call for investigations into this industry way beyond what we have seen already. It is completely out of control and unchecked. The idea that most of the public money going to HRI is spent on prize money is absolutely disgraceful against the backdrop of a severe exploitation of both animals and staff. I will oppose the motion before the House.
The small greyhound owner and the small horse trainer I knew as a buchaill óg were the backbone of rural communities. I listened to the comments of Teachtaí Maureen O'Sullivan and Clare Daly. I have asked them countless times to come and see what really happens in Clonmel at our national coursing meeting but, of course, they have always refused. They are entitled to their points of view, but there are none so blind as those who will not see. The small greyhound owner and the small horse trainer were the backbone of the industry but not any more, unfortunately. The small bookmakers must be supported. Everything in this country has become subject to the idea that big is powerful and wonderful and to hell with the small people. This has got us where we are. We have little control over industries, jobs and much else. Jobs figures were quoted. There once were jobs in this industry, but whether they still exist I do not know. We need a proper holistic evaluation of where we are going. We do not need CEOs on €250,000 per year in either association or €84 million for HRI and €16 million for the greyhound industry.
A documentary was aired on RTE last week which I believe is quite damning. Philip Boucher-Hayes said in the documentary that the management of the Irish Coursing Club would not appear in the documentary to be interviewed. It had a right to appear in it and be interviewed and defend the industry and the good people in it. There is no place for the rogues, blackguards and vagabonds that destroy the industry. There is no place for rogue exports of greyhounds such as those spoken about by Deputies O'Sullivan and Daly. These must be weeded out and sorted out because they will destroy our industry.
We have fabulous grounds in Waterford, Clonmel and Thurles which can be used for many other social events, such as hospice and schools fundraising and so on. There is a huge industry around the people involved. Everyone I meet who has a greyhound says he or she must have a little trailer and a kennel. Everyone who owns a pony for hunting must have a horsebox, veterinary aids and tack. We cannot be like Sinn Féin and just deny that this is happening at all. Our own people create this industry. It is the big part of the industry I have many issues with. I also have many issues with what is happening in the horse racing industry. Conglomerates such as the one in my area have done great work and are recognised all over the world for their prowess in the racing industry. However, why do they need Government support and the generous tax regime Charlie Haughey introduced in his day to stimulate the industry when they can buy up every parcel of land that comes up for sale in Tipperary, Limerick, Waterford, Cork, Kilkenny, Kildare and beyond? They are not leaving a living for anybody else. We cannot support an industry that takes the lifeblood out of our communities, which is what is happening in the bloodstock industry. The same is happening in other parts of the country. I have called for legislation in this regard. The Minister of State spoke about legislation due next year. I ask him to consider this issue in the legislation. He has failed to do so in the Finance Act or in any other legislation. We do not have a land league. We do not have anybody to protect ordinary small farmers who want to extend their farms to survive and to keep up with quotas, costs and the necessary investment. They can no longer buy a cottage acre; they now resort to buying the cottages with the acres. They want a landscape free of anybody else. Nobody is allowed to live or support anything else.
I support Deputy Daly's call for an examination of the wages paid in the industry, the pay below minimum wage and the other issues. I have previously met both staff and industry representatives during lobbying of the previous Government on this issue. I understand that racing is normally a weekend event, but I asked them why they must have flexi hours and so on. We need openness and transparency and we need this to be investigated properly. We need to support the small trainers, small bookies and ordinary small families that handle the greyhounds and bed the horses. They have a little luck and bravery and get a little satisfaction out of the sport and love and want to protect it.
We must also consider animal cruelty. Last year, we could not have our national coursing open in Clonmel because all the hares had been killed by marauding gangs of people whom the animal rights campaigners do not want to tackle at all. These marauding gangs are the same people to whom we talk about giving ethnic status in the very near future in this House.
The individuals to whom I refer went out with terriers and lurchers. They had videos of the killing of hares. Up to five and six dogs with no muzzles were going after a hare. That is what happened to the industry and that is what is happening because of the gangs to which Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan referred. This is not happening where regulated coursing meetings are held because the representatives of the Irish Coursing Club are present, and rightly so. Moreover, vets and officials from the Department are also present, and rightly so.
We want a regulated industry and we want to protect it. However, we cannot have people terrorising homes. When people ring the Garda, they are threatened and told that they will be burnt out or that their fences will be cut down. All the hares were killed by dogs, including lurchers and terriers, accompanied by gangs of men in vans. They put up videos on Facebook featuring the hares they had captured and killed using five or six dogs. That is not sport; that is animal cruelty at its worst. Animal rights people, including some Deputies, do not want to know anything about that. These people have protection and are above the law. That is where the problems have to be weeded out.
On behalf of the Green Party, I wish to add my voice to those of Deputies who have already spoken and raised real concerns about the development of the horse racing, horse breeding and greyhound industries in Ireland. This is not out of disrespect or a dislike for the people involved in those industries. They have a significant role in Irish society and the business world. Sometimes, however, we have to regulate business for the sake of its protection and long-term future. For too long, this House and a succession of Governments have sought to turn a blind eye and have been unwilling to address the real problems that exist.
In recent times we have seen scandals emerging relating to exports of Irish greyhounds to the UK. Internationally, questions have been asked about the doping of animals, animal treatment, over-breeding and animals being sent to China. These questions have raised a range of different animal rights issues, which, I believe, we cannot ignore. It is in the interests of people with an interest in dogs and horses that we set the highest standards and get matters right. No one can argue that this exists in the country at present. Let Ireland be one of the best countries in the world for breeding horses and dogs. If it is to become such a country, then let us ensure the highest possible animal welfare and industry standards. I do not believe such standards are currently in place. For that reason, we will oppose the motion and support the vote that will be called by others.