I should like to correct some of the inaccuracies expressed by Deputy Dillon. He accused the previous Fianna Fáil Government of laxity in introducing legislation on receiving the report on the greyhound industry from the Advisory Committee. I should like to point out to Deputy Dillon that he himself set up this Advisory Committee on 21st February, 1951, and that that report was handed in report form to the late Deputy Walsh when he was Minister for Agriculture on 18th January, 1952. As the late Deputy Walsh stated when speaking in this House in answer to a point raised by Deputy Dillon on the report, that report had to be printed and circulated and unfortunately a very serious printers' strike took place at that time. Apart from that, we had many other problems on our hands. We had a very serious mess to clear up from our predecessors and it was quite obvious that these other measures would take priority.
Deputy Dillon has suggested that there was opposition from the Fianna Fáil Benches, the object of which was to obstruct the passage of the previous Bill. If that argument is brought to its logical conclusion, it would suggest that Deputy Dillon in the later days of the debate here before Christmas, 1956, saw his own Government's days coming to an end because it is completely illogical to suggest that the Fianna Fáil Party could have delayed the Bill in what should normally have been a five-year period of office. The bee that Deputy Dillon had in his bonnet is still buzzing when he speaks of the personal vendetta of the Minister for Health. As I said previously, that Minister does not require anyone to defend him and certainly he does not require me, but looking through the records of the debate, I have seen no personal references to any individuals, either living or dead, of a derogatory nature. If Deputy Dillon wishes to suggest that there are innuendoes, and so on, that is a matter purely for himself and it is not the general conclusion drawn by the interested parties and the public generally.
To-day a new era is dawning for the greyhound industry. We should be very grateful to the members of the Advisory Committee for the long and arduous task which they performed. We should be grateful to all who contributed to this debate who were both critical and constructive in their suggestions. While I think the Bill in its present form might not be entirely desirable from all aspects, a good job has been done. It has tried to cater for all sections of the community, for the greyhound owners, for the breeders, the track owners and, I might say, to a fairly limited extent also, for the bookmakers.
I thoroughly endorse the sentiments expressed by Deputy Dillon when he urged the Minister for Agriculture, having chosen the establishment date, to do all in his power to select the best possible men. I sincerely trust that the three members of the Irish Coursing Club having been nominated in accordance with the terms of the Bill and the chairman having been appointed, the other three members will represent, as far as possible, specific sections of the industry, sections for which the three nominees of the Irish Coursing Club would not cater in the ordinary course of events.
I hope the greyhound owners as such will be represented on the board and that the bookmakers, although there is no specific provisions written into the Bill, will also be represented—as they are on the Racing Board—particularly for the initial stages. I might say also that I think a member of the board could be chosen who has good experience of the operation of the Totalisator Act of 1929, as brought into operation by the Racing Board in 1945.
One of the other matters to which I wish to refer is that this legislation could not have come too soon. The number of amendments which have come to the House and which were accepted by the previous Minister and by the present Minister have all strengthened the Bill. No time has been wasted on irrelevancies; most of the debate has been constructive and has been of invaluable assistance to the Ministers who have had the task of introducing the legislation to control a very difficult industry.
When I say that it could not have been brought in quickly enough, I should like to point out that it was only last week at the coursing at Clounanna that we had the unfortunate incident again of two bookmakers welshing on their responsibilities. In one instance, it was unfortunate that one of the members of the public who did not get his money was a non-national. The sooner this board is established and tackles its duties, the better for this sport and this industry which unfortunately has fallen on lean times and has lost the respect of the public generally. It has lost as essential feature for the success of any venture, that is, the confidence of the public as a whole.
I will conclude by saying that all parties concerned with the greyhound industry owe a debt of gratitude to the present Minister for his interest and his contributions to the debates on the previous occasion and the sympathetic manner in which he has agreed to certain of the amendments. On the previous Bill, I would say that a certain amount of congratulation is due to the previous Minister even though, as I said, he had certain bees buzzing in his bonnet.