I shall recap although we have spoken at length on this section. Many colleagues contributed their concerns about this section as currently drafted. On the previous occasion, Fine Gael proposed tabling an amendment to exempt operators of establishments registered to the Irish Greyhound Board because we believe there is adequate provision for regulation and control under the Greyhound Act 1958 which is administered under the auspices of the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food would also have a role in regard to supervising the operations of Bord na gCon.
It was felt the Bill introduces further regulations, supervision, bureaucracy, and, in effect, duplication of many of the controls and inspection systems already in place. We have concerns that additional charges for those involved in the greyhound industry could threaten the viability of what is a reputable, well regulated and successful indigenous industry. As a result of greyhound breeding and track successes, as well as coursing successes, the greyhound industry has had high exports over many years and has a very good name internationally, which can be seen in the number of Irish derby winners not only in Ireland but abroad.
This section needs to be properly thought through. Earlier in the debate, I said the Bill needed to be cross-referenced with the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 so that, if there are common areas, they could be joined up rather than just adding another layer of inspection, costs and bureaucracy to what already exists. This is a genuine concern.
I have already outlined the standards and controls in the greyhound industry with regard to DNA profiling, tattoo ear-marking and the like with regard to existing establishments. Many greyhound trainers do not even own the dogs they look after. There is another category of people who rear greyhounds as a livelihood. They take on greyhound puppies, rear them until they are approximately one year old and then release them into training. No breeding whatsoever is carried out in any of these establishments yet the Bill seems to be catch-all legislation which gives no recognition to previous legislation and the regulation system already in place in the industry.
The issue of the definition of a bitch was highlighted to the Minster. The Bill states that establishments which have six bitches or more will be deemed a "dog breeding establishment" where the bitches are more than four months old and capable of being used for breeding purposes. One could have six bitches in an establishment that are being reared or trained with no intention to breed from them. Another establishment could have five bitches which could all have a litter of puppies but the establishment will not be covered by the Bill. There are anomalies in regard to how we deem an establishment to be a breeding establishment rather than a training or rearing establishment.
We on this side of the House feel many areas of the Bill have not been properly thought through. If the Bill goes through as currently drafted, it will be a very real threat to what is a vibrant greyhound industry which was built up over many generations and has a very positive profile in regard to the breeding lines of champion greyhounds. If this section is passed as it stands, it will certainly threaten what has been a very successful indigenous industry. In a climate of job losses and given that the economy is under serious pressure, we are shooting ourselves in the foot in this regard. We should be strengthening industries such as the greyhound industry rather than adding further layers of bureaucracy that will increase costs and drive people out of the industry because they will not be able to afford to remain in it. It will be a sad day if that happens.
We are not happy with many aspects of this section. We hope the Minister will indicate to the House that he will make amendments to address our concerns.