Greyhound Industry: Motion

The following motion was moved by Deputy Holly Cairns on Wednesday, 25 November 2020:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
— the Irish greyhound industry receives substantial public funding;
— in 2021, the Exchequer will subsidise greyhound racing in Ireland by €19.2 million, an increase of €2.4 million from 2020;
— the industry has received approximately €280 million in taxpayer funding since 2000;
— the last two decades have seen significant falls in attendance and sponsorship for the greyhound industry;
— as turnover from racing activities has steadily declined over the last decade from €32.9 million in 2010 to €22.7 million in 2017, the State subvention has increased from €11.9 million in 2010 to €16.8 million in 2020;
— turnover from greyhound racing activity at Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) fell by three per cent in 2019; and
— in 2019, an independent investigation found that 16,000 greyhounds are born every year, and approximately 6,000 of those are killed because they failed to reach the required standard;
acknowledges that:
— while improvements have been made in funding for animal care relating to the industry, this was only committed to under significant public pressure in the wake of the aforementioned investigation;
— it is unlikely that the greyhound industry in this country could survive in the absence of taxpayer funding;
— the norm across almost all racetracks in Ireland is for track losses to significantly exceed profits from Tote betting;
— in continuing to contribute millions of euros of public money to greyhound racing every year, the Government is propping up an inherently cruel industry which the Irish public has been increasingly rejecting;
— the Irish Greyhound Board/GRI commissioned a report which described the breeding of the greyhounds as ‘out of control’; and
— the Irish Greyhound Board/GRI has not delivered a dividend to the State in the past 25 years and is unlikely to do so in the future; and
calls on the Government to:
— waive the increased funding of €2.4 million due to be given to the greyhound industry;
— incrementally refocus greyhound racing funding to the welfare of dogs impacted by breeding and racing associated with the industry; and
— work towards the gradual phasing out of State support for the Irish greyhound industry by 2025.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
"acknowledges that:
—there is a strong commitment to improved animal welfare in this sector in the Programme for Government ‘Our Shared Future’;
—future funding of the sector is contingent on welfare standards being upheld on an annual basis and compliance with welfare standards in the sector will be strictly monitored;
—the greyhound sector is particularly challenged by Covid-19;
—the increase in the betting tax on all sports has gone from one per cent to two per cent, providing increased funding to the Exchequer and revenue from the tax in 2019 was €95 million;
—the most recent economic assessment of the industry was undertaken by Jim Power Economics in November 2017, and it indicated that the greyhound industry delivers a significant impact to the national economy with 12,371 people deriving economic benefit; and
—staff employed by Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) as per its Annual Report for 2019 was 125 full-time staff and 112 part-time staff (measured in full time equivalents) and approximately 700 casual staff are employed at peak periods of activity with a wide geographical spread across the country; and
notes that:
—the proposed allocation from the Horse and Greyhound Fund is set to increase from €16.8 million to €19.2 million in 2021 and this increase is necessary to take account of the severe impact of Covid-19 on the sport and industry, and also to maintain the ongoing level of activity;
—the RCÉ is fully committed to the provisions in the Programme for Government ‘Our Shared Future’ regarding the care and welfare of the greyhound and the RCÉ will be required to account to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine for its activities in this area annually;
—the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 represents the first major upgrade of the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 and the RCÉ is focused on implementing in full the provisions of the Act as the relevant sections are commenced;
—a key element of the new legislation is the provision for the first time for a full IT traceability system for racing greyhounds and the RCÉ has advanced this system following a procurement process and expect to have the system operational by year end with statutory regulation to follow in 2021, and this will provide a mechanism to ensure that racing greyhounds are properly registered and traceable throughout their lives and that there are strong enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure that this is the case;
—the traceability system will ensure that important life events in the life of the racing greyhound including birth, microchipping, registration, racing career, changes of ownership/trainer, location, export, retirement and end-of-life are accurately recorded;
—the RCÉ has been implementing an ambitious care and welfare programme with the following elements being progressed:
— the setting up of a Care Fund in 2019, the funding sources are as follows:
— 50 per cent of all existing sponsorships;
— 10 per cent of all admissions;
— 10 per cent of all restaurant packages; and
— 5 per cent of net Tote profits;
— notwithstanding the collapse in commercial revenues arising from the impact of Covid-19 and resultant impact on Care Fund income, the RCÉ is committed to increasing the spend on care and welfare as part of its overall programme;
— the opening of the first Care Centre in Thurles in July 2020, which will act as a half-way house between the end of a racing career and the placing of the greyhound in its ‘forever home’ and the centre will allow greyhounds to be socialised and for interested parties to consider the fostering or adoption of a greyhound in such a setting;
— the implementation of an extensive rehoming programme with over 1,300 greyhounds rehomed in 2020 to date with assistance from the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust, an entity established by the RCÉ;
— the introduction of a financial incentive for all domestic rehomings to encourage more rehoming in Ireland;
— the implementation of a Foster-to-Adopt Scheme;
— the operation of an Injuries at Tracks Recovery Scheme whereby funding is available to address injuries sustained to racing greyhounds to ensure that they can be retired from greyhound racing;
— the establishing of a confidential phone line/email through which any welfare issues can be reported on a 24/7 basis and all reports are fully investigated by RCÉ welfare staff;
— the full utilisation of the Exclusion Order process whereby a party can be excluded from being on a greyhound racing track and six such orders were issued in 2020, with a number of other investigations pending;
— the updating of the Code of Practice for the Care and Welfare of the updating of the Code of Practice for the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound which is at present on public consultation, as this is provided for under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011;
— the continuing of an intense testing regime both at race events and through out-of-competition testing and the urine sampling regime has been expanded in 2020 to also cover, on a periodic basis, blood sampling, while work is also under way in terms of the necessary protocols to implement further enhancements of the testing regime through hair sampling; and
— the RCÉ implemented a Covid-19 Care Payment Scheme during the period of suspension of racing activity from March to June 2020, and some €998,000 was paid under the scheme to ensure that the welfare needs of the racing greyhound were met during a period when racing activity was suspended."
-(Minister of State at the Department of Justice)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 1 in the name of Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to the motion re funding for the Irish greyhound industry. This morning, on the question, "That the amendment be made", a division was claimed and that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 94; Níl, 57; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Holly Cairns and Jennifer Whitmore.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.05 p.m. until 9 a.m. on Thursday, 26 November 2020.