Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Horse Racing Ireland Bill 2015: Second Stage
I welcome the Minister to the House and acknowledge the great deal of thought and attention given to this legislation by him and his officials. I also thank them for their briefings on the legislation during its passage through the pre-legislative stage and in the Dáil. This legislation is welcome on the basis that it should help in the long-term planning and funding of an industry that is integral and central to rural Ireland in terms of the jobs it provides and the sustainability of our rural economy.
Horse racing is a sport in which Ireland is a world champion. If horse racing was an Olympic sport Irish jockeys would be winning gold, silver and bronze medals. I would appreciate if the Minister, on my behalf, would take up with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, whom I trust has some degree of responsibility for broadcasting, my disappointment at the lack of coverage of Irish racing and Irish racing results on the RTE sports news, particularly on Saturday and Sunday nights. Some weeks ago, an Irish cross-country team returned to Ireland having won a bronze medal, to which significant and appropriate coverage was given. I am sure that on that particular occasion there were significant Irish successes on the racecourses of Britain and beyond - I think there was a big meeting in Hong Kong that weekend - that went virtually unmarked by our national broadcaster. Senator Cummins might recall the RTE "Airs and Races" programme some 25 or 30 years ago.