Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Report and Final Stages

Before we commence I remind Senators that they may speak only once on Report Stage, except for the proposer of an amendment who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. On Report Stage each amendment must be seconded.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, line 34, to delete "3 months" and substitute "12 months".

We have tabled several amendments on Report Stage. At least two months have passed since Committee Stage and I would have expected some amendments from the Minister by now. We are informed that amendments will be accepted in the other House. That amounts to treating this House with contempt. The Minister is prepared to accept and introduce amendments in the other House but not to put them before us for scrutiny. Amendments must come back to us if they are passed in the other House, but it amounts to treating us like a rubber stamp. It is appalling and shows contempt for the House by the Minister at a time when he is suggesting reform of this House. Regardless, he treats the House in such a manner. This view was expressed by several colleagues from the Minister's side of the House on the Order of Business this morning and it is a matter on which we take a strong view.

I refer to amendment No. 1, which deals with the lead-in time for the regulations under discussion. On Committee Stage, we made the point that we appreciate the fact that a lead-in time is being provided for. However, three months is an insufficient lead-in time to put through the regulations because people may have to alter buildings or get planning permission to carry out work to comply with the regulations.

As the Minister is aware, planning permission can take a good deal more than three months. We are not being unreasonable in any way to call for this to be extended to a period of 12 months. Many family farms breed dogs and perhaps the buildings and outhouses are not what they should be. Such buildings would have to be brought up to standard and it is possible planning permission would have to be secured for any necessary alterations. I appeal to the Minister to show some respect for the House and to accept some of the amendments tabled. We have only tabled four amendments, all of which are reasonable and none of which are too controversial. However, I believe they will improve the Bill. I call on the Minister to give due consideration to this and I trust he will not tell me that he will consider the amendment when it goes before the other House. Let us deal with the amendments before us in this House. I look forward to hearing from the Minister on the matter.

I second the amendment. I apologise for being somewhat late. I arrived at the tail end of Senator Cummins's contribution and I was taken by his comments about the need to respect this House. The Minister has been present in the House for most of the debate, for which I give him credit. We have had a comprehensive, wide-ranging, engaging and constructive debate. Obviously, there will always be a difficulty in accepting amendments from the Opposition, but progress has been made and the Bill is getting a good airing. However, it is disappointing that the finished product in Seanad Éireann will inevitably be subject to change in the other House. It is also disappointing that decisions have been made to table amendments in the other House. We would be obliged if the Minister clarified his intentions in that regard. It would have been preferable if substantive, or even minor, changes which the Minister, his departmental officials and Cabinet colleagues have agreed had been introduced in this House.

This is a modest proposal. As Senator Cummins outlined, it is one the Minister should be in a position to accept, as a sign of the willingness of all Members of the Oireachtas to put through legislation over which they can stand. This is one of the more minor amendments tabled on Committee and Report Stages and I hope the Minister will give it some consideration.

By way of introduction, I inform the House that my Department has engaged with the stakeholders with a view to addressing any fears various interest groups might have about the proposed legislation. Many of these fears were highlighted by Senators on Committee Stage, including concerns about inspections, the financial implications, breeding limitations, micro-chipping and the overall effect of implementation of the legislation. Senior officials from the Department have met the Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club on a number of occasions, with Dogs Trust and the Irish Kennel Club. This active engagement has resulted in amendments which I will signal today, as requested by Senator Bradford, as well as by Senator Glynn, to whom I spoke before coming into the House. The amendments will successfully allay many of the legitimate concerns of the Irish Greyhound Board, in particular. This process has taken considerable time to complete and is not without controversy. We have been working on the amendments and trying to do our very best to safeguard the interests of the stakeholder groups and ensure we do not veer too much that we somehow undermine the welfare considerations.

On a point of order, the Minister mentioned he was going to introduce amendments today.

I said I was signalling that I would introduce amendments.

I stand corrected.

I thank the Senator who talked about a lack of respect. I have the highest respect for this House. His party leader called for its abolition, but I have never gone that far. If the Senator wants to talk about a lack of respect for this House, he should use other examples, not me.

I will not interrupt the Minister.

I am confident that the Bill, as amended, will safeguard the welfare of dogs in breeding establishments and ensure a thriving greyhound industry leading to the creation of employment by enhancing standards and the reputation of dog breeding in Ireland. The amendments will be subject to further advice from the Parliamentary Counsel and represent significant concessions to respond to the needs of stakeholders. To allow further time to iron out the technicalities behind some of them, they will be tabled on Committee Stage in the Dáil and will have to be brought to the Seanad.

Concerns about inspection were raised by many Senators. The Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club have raised concerns regarding the scope for abusing the inspection process. To allay these concerns, I propose to provide a facility, whereby representatives of the Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club will accompany local authority veterinary inspectors on visits. I also propose to restrict the personnel authorised to issue an improvement order to local authority veterinary inspectors. The proposed amendment will allow a qualified veterinary practitioner-stipendiary steward from the Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club to accompany a local authority veterinary inspector on an inspection of a greyhound breeding establishment, stipulate that a local authority veterinary inspector is also an authorised person under section 16 and insert a provision under which only a local authority veterinary inspector will be able to issue an improvement order.

Concerns have been raised about the potential for animal welfare bodies to issue improvement orders. There are up to 45 veterinary inspectors employed by the local authorities; there is at least one in every local authority. My Department has full confidence in the existing local authority dog warden and veterinary structures. Nonetheless, I propose to specify the local authority veterinary inspector as a category of authorised person and restrict the issuance of improvement orders to veterinary inspectors to ameliorate the concerns raised.

I refer to financial concerns. The Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club have raised concerns regarding the financial burden which registration fees place on greyhound breeders and trainers. I note that the fees are modest in the context of an industry which the Irish Greyhound Board estimates is worth approximately €500 million annually. I also note that the bulk of fees currently payable by greyhound breeders and trainers are to the Irish Greyhound Board and that they relate mainly to recording pedigree rather than welfare issues. Notwithstanding this, I propose to make provisions for IGB breeders to be exempt from the fees associated with the dog licensing process to offset any financial burden they might experience as a consequence of the introduction of the Bill.

Under the 1986 Control of Dogs Act, as amended, a person with numerous dogs can choose to purchase a general dog licence from the local authority. It is proposed to provide that a registered dog breeding establishment be exempt from the fees associated with the general dog licence but not from the licensing process. Given that the general licence fee is scheduled to increase to €400 and that the registration fee for a dog breeding establishment of six to 12 bitches is €400, I consider that this provision will go a long way towards offsetting any financial burden which breeders might experience. The proposed amendment will roughly state a registered dog breeding establishment will be exempt from the fees associated with the general dog licence but not from the licensing process.

I propose to make provision for IGB trainers to be exempt from the fees associated with registration. This exemption will apply to IGB registered trainers with more than six bitches on the premises. To claim the exemption, the trainer and the Irish Greyhound Board will have to certify that the trainer does not actually breed the dogs. This is a significant concession in that it will save an eligible greyhound trainer a minimum of €400 a year in registration fees. It will save him or her considerably more if his or her establishment has more than 12 bitches. The amendment will provide for the exemption of IGB registered trainers from the fees associated with the registration process. This mirrors the hunt club exemption.

I refer to concerns about breeding. The Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club have raised concerns that the legislation, as it stands, is excessively restrictive in regard to dog breeding cycles. To address this concern, I am changing the provision in respect of breeding frequency from one litter every 12 months to three litters in any three year period. This will address concerns about situations where a bitch might not fall pregnant in a 12 month period. It will provide for three litters in a three year period, subject to veterinary advice providing that the provision in respect of a maximum of six litters during the lifetime of a bitch is retained.

I also propose making a minor modification to the definition of "dog breeding establishment". The amendment of the duration to six months will allow further time for the owners of a newborn litter of pups to decide if they want to sell or retain them. Heretofore, when the pups reached the age of four months and were capable of breeding, each bitch pup was reckonable for registration purposes. The amendment extends this period to six months as follows: "Alter the definition of breeding establishment to extend the four-month age threshold to six months".

I refer to microchipping, an issue that has been raised in my engagement with many Fianna Fáil colleagues and the Senators opposite. Stakeholders have raised concerns about the microchipping process. To accommodate these concerns, I will extend the deadline for microchipping pups from the current provision of eight weeks to 12 weeks as follows: "Change the previously signalled requirement of microchipping of all dogs on the premises from eight weeks to 12 weeks old". It is essential from an animal welfare perspective that we have full traceability.

Notwithstanding the above provisions, the Irish Greyhoud Board and the Irish Coursing Club continue to raise concerns about the potential harm the Bill might cause to their industry. To further allay their concerns in this regard, I propose to introduce a review clause in the legislation to examine its impact on the greyhound industry 12 months after the legislation has commenced. The amendment will be along the following lines: "Insert a provision that the legislation be reviewed after 12 months with a view to assessing its impact on the effective functioning of the greyhound industry".

I propose to incorporate these amendments in the Bill for consideration by the Dáil, as some of them will require detailed drafting and further consultation with the Parliamentary Counsel. That has been a difficulty, as has the engagement with stakeholders which took place as late as this morning. The legislation is not without controversy and complexity. I consider this suite of amendments to represent a significant concession to industry stakeholders and that they address most of the concerns raised on Committee Stage by Senators. I hope they fully illustrate that I am happy to work with stakeholders to ensure the Bill will safeguard the industry and the welfare of dogs in breeding establishments. I commend the Bill to the House and look forward to introducing amendments in the Dáil.

With regard to amendment No. 1, a similar amendment was debated on Committee Stage which proposed a 12-month lead-in period. I thought this was excessive, given the length of the deliberative process to date. However, in a spirit of compromise and to give sufficient time for dog breeders and local authorities to familiarise themselves with the legislation, I will table an amendment to provide for a six-month period for breeders to be registered. I am seeking to ensure a smooth transition to full registration, while also keeping the period allowed for registration meaningful. Therefore, it should be remembered that the period will commence on the date of enactment of the legislation. Those affected know we have been debating this legislation for some time. The lead-in period will be significant. Judging by the volume of representations received by my Department, few dog breeders are not aware of the Bill and its proposed requirements. People know this legislation is being introduced and nobody can plead ignorance. In a spirit of compromise, I will table this amendment and hope Senators understand it is a significant concession which should go a long way towards meeting their concerns.

I find the procedure the Minister is going through extraordinary. In response to our amendment he said he was prepared to provide for a six-month lead-in period, but why is the Government amendment not before us? The procedure is that the Minister should table an amendment outlining that he accepts a six-month provision. I appreciate he has gone some of the way, but the procedure he has adopted is extraordinary. He has made a speech which has not been circulated to Members on what he will introduce in the Dáil and given us the wording of the amendments.

That was rough wording. I was trying to be helpful because Senator Bradford asked for it.

Why make reference to the amendments on Report Stage when they are not ready? Why tell us what the Minister will do in the Dáil? He should use the House properly and debate the amendments using the appropriate procedure. I accept he will provide for a six-month lead-in period rather than three months, but the procedure should be to table an amendment to that effect which we cannot accept because it is going to be introduced in the other House. It should be tabled in this House. The Cathaoirleach cannot accept the amendment, unless it is before us. It is extraordinary that the Minister can talk about an amendment to extend the lead-in time to six months, on which I compliment him, without putting it before us. The procedure he is following is unprecedented. He is referring to the tabling of amendments in the other House and we are expected to digest what he said without reference to a script. He cannot do this. He can say he will accept the extension to six months, but that cannot be accepted by the Cathaoirleach. The procedure the Minister has adopted shows contempt for the House, whether he believes this, because he is telling us what he will do in the other House without tabling proper amendments here.

The Bill clearly states the lead-in time will be three months. Senator Cummins's amendment seeks an extension to 12 months. While the Minister has indicated he is unable to agree to this, he is prepared to extend the duration to six months when the Bill is taken in the other House. The Bill will have to come back to this House. The Minister is not prepared to accept the Senator's amendment, but he is prepared to compromise in the other House.

The place to do it is in this House.

We have discussed the amendment and the Senator has replied to the Minister. Is the amendment being pressed?

No, in view of what the Minister stated.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 12, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

"(2) The Minister shall make provision for payment of any fee or charge under this Act to be made by electronic means.".

This is a technical amendment that we also tabled on Committee Stage seeking provision for the payment of charges under the Bill to be made by electronic means. Many local authorities accept payments by electronic payments for their services. There is much discussion about the smart economy and so on. This should be the case in all local authorities. A sensible amendment has been proposed and I hope the Minister will take it on board.

I second the amendment.

I certainly accept the sentiments behind the amendment and agree that we require greater efficiency at local authority level. That is why I have set up a local authority efficiency review group chaired by Mr. Pat McLoughlin, and it is to report shortly. However, at this time to be proscriptive and tell each local authority how to do its business in this regard is not something I envisage in this legislation. I have indicated this previously when we discussed this matter.

In the context of the efficiency group review we will, I believe, be looking at each local authority to see how they can collect money in a more efficient manner. In the context of this legislation, however, I do not believe this amendment is appropriate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 14, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

"(a) the operator of the establishment is registered through the Irish Coursing Club,”.

This is an area we spent a long time debating on Committee Stage in particular, namely, that the operator of the establishment is registered through the Irish Coursing Club. The Minister has said he has been in contact with the Irish Greyhound Board, the Irish Coursing Club and so on and he is proposing some amendments. However, I have correspondence from the Irish Greyhound Board, and I would like to read some of it into the record of the House. The board says there are severe implications for the Irish greyhound industry if the Bill is passed in its present form, and I suggest this is true, even with the Minister's proposed amendments, from my understanding of what he said. The board wanted to make it clear that the regulation and management of the greyhound industry was already fully legislated for under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958. That is something my colleague, Senator Coffey, stated categorically on Second Stage and on Committee Stage. He was told it does not regulate the industry and the board did not have the powers. He produced the 1958 Act and read out what it covered, to the amazement of the Minister. The Irish Greyhound Board said:

We have secured legal advice that shows that under the 1958 Greyhound Industry Act we can visit and inspect any establishment where greyhounds are kept. This conflicts with the uninformed correspondence which stated inaccurate and misleading information with regard to our right to inspect.

It was suggested the board did not have a right to inspect. The letter continues:

The legal position was bolstered in May 2010 by a High Court ruling which upheld without reservation the right of officers authorised by the Irish Greyhound Board to visit and inspect any premises at which greyhounds are kept. Furthermore, our legal advice indicates that the 1958 Act can be easily amended by way of a suitable regulation, so as to confer legal power on the Irish Greyhound Board to support the welfare and proper treatment of greyhounds by enforcing legal sanction on our findings. Accordingly, this removes one of the main concerns which officials suggested, at lessening the validity of the 1958 legislation in the context of the proposed Bill.

This is a clear and efficient path to a workable solution to the present concerns of the Irish Greyhound Board as regards the current dog breeding Bill. The proposed amendments by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government simply do not address the genuine fears of the greyhound industry. The measures that are being introduced for other breeds have been in place for greyhounds since 1958, and their record is excellent.

The board is now being asked to submit dual registration and accept double inspection systems. This suggests the industry will be saddled with unworkable definitions pertaining to the greyhound breeding cycle, because it does not want to see the proposed legislation amended for greyhounds. The Minister should have amended the legislation pertaining to greyhounds under the 1958 Act or introduced regulations under that legislation rather than bringing the question of the control of greyhounds into the dog breeding Bill. We made that suggestion to him on Committee Stage, but obviously even with some of the sensible amendments he proposes to table in the other House, these will not be sufficient to assist the Irish Greyhound Board. The proposals the board suggests would be a proper compromise, that is, to amend the 1958 Act and give the board the powers that are necessary.

Like all of us, the Irish Greyhound Board recognises the benefits of legislation to outlaw puppy farming. However, it cannot allow the illogical and misguided extension of legislation effectively to destroy the Irish greyhound industry. It argues that it is a well run industry, driven by continuous improvements in welfare standards and populated by people who care deeply about the animals in their care. I was the first Member of this House, about six years ago, to talk about regulating puppy firms. I said this on Second Stage, and it was confirmed at the time. I firmly believe we should root out those rogue operators. If I had known this type of legislation was being introduced to regulate the greyhound industry and that it would go way beyond the legislation that was anticipated as necessary and which would have been very positively received on this side of the House, I would have seen it as a retrograde step with severe repercussions for the Irish greyhound industry.

We shall certainly be pressing this amendment. The future of the Irish greyhound industry is at stake. This is an industry that gives great employment, enormous enjoyment and has some wonderful people involved in it, both in breeding and every other aspect. What the Minister is proposing will have severe repercussions on that, and I ask him to consider matters further. We have partly grasped what he intends to achieve with the amendments he proposes to table in the other House, and I hope they will be sufficient to satisfy the needs of the Irish greyhound industry, which has been one of the major success stories in the whole area of sport.

I formally second the amendment.

I support the principle of what my colleague, Senator Maurice Cummins, said. He has pointed out that this is a very valuable industry. He has also pointed out that the Irish Greyhound Board is somewhat concerned about the Bill. I want to place on record also my concern over the most unusual situation, where we are being asked by the Minister, in effect, to take a leap of faith that amendments may be introduced in the other House and brought back here for us to rubber-stamp in two or three weeks or whenever the Bill returns. Some weeks ago, I wrote to my whip stating I could not accept the Bill in its current form. While Members are being asked today to accept the Bill in its current form, subject to possible amendments in the Dáil, this position is untenable to me. Obviously, I support the Minister and I spoke on Second Stage to the effect that the entire purpose and tenet of the Bill was to outlaw puppy farms and so on. However, the net has been spread far and wide and is affecting many people. Lest anyone think that I am a greyhound owner or breeder, I have only been at Cork greyhound track thrice in my life. I am a rural life enthusiast and although I know some people in gun clubs and so on, I am not one of those who takes an extreme right position. I have been highly objective in respect of this Bill but am deeply concerned that the manner in which the Bill is being dealt with in this House is most unorthodox. It is disingenuous for Members, especially those on the Government side of the House, to be expected to vote down amendments today that may be dealt with favourably in the other House, only to return here in two, three or four weeks' time or whenever, to rubber-stamp and endorse them. Although I have the utmost respect for the Cathaoirleach's position, I find this difficult to tolerate or stomach. Basically, I consider it to be demeaning to this House and it should be unacceptable. While many aspects of this House may have caused unnecessary public opprobrium abroad as to how matters are conducted here, with all due respect the Minister has merely brought to the House the foundation of some of the wording of possible amendments. Such amendments should have been tabled before Members today, after which a more robust debate at this late stage could have taken place.

With all due respect, the Bill has been parked for two months or a little more. I acknowledge the Minister has been working in good faith with the Irish Greyhound Board, IGB, the Irish Coursing Club, ICC, and others to ascertain whether a favourable conclusion can be reached. However, this puts me in a most invidious position on a point of principle, as does my belief that, to use fishing parlance, the net and trawl being thrown out by the Minister is far too wide.

I concur with Senator Cummins's contention that the 1958 Act could easily have been revisited. There is over-regulation within the fishing industry that has driven many people from that industry. Members are now witnessing over-regulation in the greyhound industry at the coursing level or otherwise. I must confess that I have never attended a coursing meeting in my life. The amendment tabled by Fine Gael seeks to address such over-regulation. I also acknowledge the significant work carried out on this issue by Senator Coffey. Having listened to him throughout the debates in this Chamber, it is obvious that he knows his stuff. This over-regulation will damage the greyhound industry and will drive out the small operators.

These concerns are deeply held and while it is not usual for me to support points being made, I have grave concerns and am greatly troubled about a number of issues in this regard. Although it is not an easy matter to me to take a stand that might put me in a difficult position, I certainly have highlighted and flagged my grave concerns regarding the Bill's direction. It is inappropriate for Members to be parked up a sideline and to be told that the Upper House is not capable of handling such amendments. If it is a time issue, it can wait for a week or ten days. The amendments should be tabled before this House, rather than obliging Members to come back to rubber-stamp the Bill at a time when it is most likely the Dáil will be in recess. Members will run into a cul-de-sac and with all due respect, the Minister could run foul of technical issues in this Bill and I am concerned that this is the wrong way to go about it.

For Senator Cummins to employ hyperbole with regard to this issue — and hyperbole is what it is — does not serve him at all. I have lived for most of my life within sight of my local greyhound track. I am the nearest neighbour to the greyhound track on the road out of Dundalk.

It is not hyperbole. I have the letter to hand.

Fr. John Harrington, who is present in the Gallery, will confirm this.

The Senator should not refer to people in the Gallery.

I have received a single telephone call on this matter and for an industry that supposedly is being brought to its knees, that is an extraordinarily low level of lobbying and if that is the case, it shows an extraordinary degree of complacency. It leads me to conclude that Senator Cummins's comments are grossly exaggerated.

They certainly are not.

The concept of over-regulation is another canard I wish to put to rest. Every sector and industry worth its salt is regulated. The principle of being self-financed——

I refer to the 1958 Act.

Please, no interruptions.

The principle of being self-financed stands other sectors in good stead. In the sector in which I work, I must contribute to my own regulation. That is the way it is across the board and the costs are not excessive. This measure will improve the overall standing of the industry in the eyes of the public and of the market abroad, where the Irish puppy breeding industry does not enjoy a good reputation. On the contrary, I have seen some highly distressing articles that do Ireland's good name and the quality of our exports generally no good whatsoever. Consequently, I believe the regulation is proportionate. I acknowledge it will impose a certain level of costs and incidentally, the person who lobbied me did so on a competitiveness, rather than on a welfare issue. However, gains that will outweigh such relatively low costs will come through and the sector will enjoy a better guaranteed Irish branding. This will improve the ability of the greyhound sector and the puppy industry in general to find new markets. Those who purchase from this sector will be able to do so with the confidence that animal welfare and regulation in general are being upheld to the highest standards in Ireland.

I urge Members to desist from hyperbole and bogus arguments and to stick to the facts. The greyhound sector must be part of an overall Dog Breeding Establishments Bill as to leave it out would be ludicrous and would lead to a gradual erosion of its integrity over time. I entirely support the proposals and commend the Minister on the amendments he has accepted. He has taken on board the views of this House and Members ought to recognise that.

I have explained in detail the genesis of the amendments, how I have engaged with the specific stakeholders and the amendments' complexity. I will state to Senator O'Donovan that I also wrote to the Taoiseach and that he must accept my bona fides on this matter. I do not write to the Taoiseach lightly on such issues but I did so because this spells out in detail exactly what I had in mind. I was very clear with him and likewise am very clear with Members of this House. I wish to state absolutely that there is no threat whatsoever to the Irish greyhound industry. As my colleague, Senator Dearey, has just noted, the use of phrases such as "The greyhound industry is being destroyed" is an exaggeration. Not only will it not be destroyed, it will not be undermined in any way.

Although I am convinced of this, to make absolutely sure I intend to insert an amendment into this legislation that will result in a review after 12 months and should there be any undermining of this important industry, that issue will be addressed. My Department has included measure after measure. Moreover, in consultation with the Irish Greyhound Board and the Irish Coursing Club, I outlined that I would be willing to provide exemptions from the registration fee to trainers of greyhounds on the basis of assurances by the board and the club that training greyhounds was a specialised practice and that trainers do not actually breed greyhounds. We had a long discussion on that matter. In addition, I am anxious to minimise any financial burden on the greyhound industry and will, as previously mentioned, provide exemptions to registered dog breeding establishments from the general dog licence fee, thereby making a saving of approximately €400 per establishment. All of this has been done.

As for the question regarding the Act of 1958, which has been raised, my legal advice is that the welfare regulations relating to the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 are considered to beultra vires and as such are not supported by the primary legislation of the 1958 Act. The Irish Greyhound Board has acknowledged this fact. These are the facts as I know them and as the Minister responsible in this area, I therefore have concluded that all breeds of dog must be addressed through the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 and not through any other legislation. I am not in a position to make exemptions for certain breeds of dog, be they hunting dogs or greyhounds. Senator Cummins is aware that representations have been made on both categories of dog. I emphasise that no damage will be done to the greyhound industry. A campaign is taking place throughout the country. I understand the political imperatives when people believe they are being subjected to significant pressure. It is completely unprecedented. I cannot believe it when I see such campaigns being mounted, as there is nothing surer than that they are based on misinformation. There is an idea that somehow we are undermining a rural way of life and that first greyhounds will be outlawed, followed by shooting and angling. I have heard all the arguments, but none of them stacks up. None of the arguments about the potential damage that it is claimed will be inflicted on the greyhound industry stands up.

Senator O'Donovan might not have been present when I outlined the amendments. They are the same amendments I outlined to the Taoiseach and will be introduced——

Why are they not available?

I have explained to the Senator on two occasions why that is the case.

It is not good enough.

It is not disrespectful in any way to Members of this House. Quite simply, it is due to time constraints and the complexity of the issue which requires the input of the Parliamentary Counsel. This militated against us in introducing the amendments in this House, but as the Senator knows only too well, they must be endorsed by this House.

I have been accused of using hyperbole, but I was quoting from a letter from the chief executive officer of the Irish Greyhound Board. He said the illogical and misguided extension of the legislation would effectively destroy the greyhound industry. They are not my words and I am not using hyperbole. They are the words of the chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board and I suggest he knows more about the industry than the Minister, even with the vast amount of knowledge he may possess about dogs.

I compliment my friend and colleague, Senator O'Donovan, on outlining the difficulties he faces. They are as I outlined in addressing the first amendment. We are being used as a rubber stamp and the House is being treated with contempt. We have told about the amendments being introduced in the other House. There is no question that they should have been introduced in this House, as this is the place to introduce amendments and to allow a proper debate on them.

I do not accept what the Minister has alleged about misinformation. Much information emerged on Second and Committee Stages that I suggest informed the Minister and his officials of the actual position in the greyhound industry and about hunting and all other breeds of dog. It has been an education for me and other Members of the House also. It has certainly been an education for the Minister because he showed a complete lack of information on the 1958 Act when it was originally raised. We will be pressing the amendment which is not based on misinformation. It is based on the best information we have available from the chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board. We are relaying the genuine fears of that body which are held not alone by the board but also by those involved in the greyhound industry throughout the length and breadth of the country. They are right to have fears.

Senator Dearey said he had received one representation on the matter. I am surprised he even received one because his party was introducing the Bill.

I would have considered that I was an obvious person to contact.

No interruptions, please. We are speaking to the amendment.

I am sticking to it. The Minister suggested I was using hyperbole, but I was quoting from the letter from the person who is best placed to describe what effect the legislation will have on the greyhound industry.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 31.

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Cannon, Ciaran.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • O’Reilly, Joe.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Prendergast, Phil.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Twomey, Liam.

Níl

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Butler, Larry.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Corrigan, Maria.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Dearey, Mark.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Feeney, Geraldine.
  • Glynn, Camillus.
  • Hanafin, John.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • McDonald, Lisa.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • O’Brien, Francis.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Sullivan, Ned.
  • O’Toole, Joe.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Bradford and Maurice Cummins; Níl, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 14, line 17, to delete "4 months" and substitute "2 years".

This amendment relates to breeding bitches. According to the Bill, bitches would be breeding at four months. That is a ludicrous provision. Breeding bitches in any establishment will be at least 18 months to two years old before they start breeding. To refer in the Bill to breeding bitches of four months old is absolutely ludicrous. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the breeding of any breed of dog, but particularly greyhounds. We propose that the four months be changed to two years. If Senator Ó Brolcháin, who is sniggering over there, is suggesting that one can breed greyhound bitches at four months old——

One can breed them within two years.

The Senator is talking about cruelty to animals if he is talking about breeding bitches at four months. Nobody in the country who is breeding dogs would breed a dog at four months of age.

The Bill does not make it mandatory.

This is absolutely crazy. It shows a disregard for and a complete lack of knowledge about the breeding of dogs. As we said on Committee Stage, to suggest that a person would breed a dog at four months and that they be included under this Bill, really sums up what the Green Party knows about any animal and certainly about the breeding cycle of greyhounds, in particular.

I do not believe the Bill makes it mandatory for dogs to breed at four months. The Senator is being disingenuous. Changing it to two years is quite ridiculous. Obviously, a dog can breed within that period of time. I accept the Senator's point regarding four months but with regard to a dog being forced to breed within four months, that is not stated in the Bill so please do not misrepresent it.

If it is not four months, why did the Minister not change it?

The Senator should speak through the Chair. I call Senator O'Reilly.

I formally second the amendment. Whoever drafted this Bill obviously did not do first year in veterinary medicine in college or failed it or first year in agricultural science, nor were they ever involved with farming or dog breeding. In fact, as I said privately to my colleague, Senator Wilson, earlier, they are barking mad.

Senator O'Reilly should be on a leash.

I would suggest the same, but in reverse.

Whoever proposed this is barking mad. It is ludicrous and shows a lack of knowledge of the industry and of reality. While I accept the point that the Bill might not necessarily be enforcing breeding at four months, the fact it is suggested that bitches would be breeding and encouraged to breed at four months is bizarre. I presume good sense will prevail and that the Minister will announce his acceptance of the amendment. Anything else does not bear contemplation.

Not only did the people on the working group do first year in veterinary medicine, they were veterinary experts. That is the reason they were in the working group in the first place. The amendment would have the effect of not including any bitch less than two years old. That is the key issue. It is fairly incredible that the Senators could envisage a Bill to regulate puppy farms which would exclude breeding bitches under two years of age. The proposed amendment would, in fact, legalise the abuse of dogs. It would incentivise breeders to breed bitches as early and as often as possible before the dog reaches two years of age. That is a fact.

I signalled on Committee Stage that I would be willing to change the definition to six months. That will allow further time for owners of a newborn litter of pups to decide whether to sell or retain the pups. Heretofore, once the pups reached four months in age and were capable of breeding, each bitch pup would have been reckonable for registration purposes. My amendment will effectively extend the period to six months. I do not propose to accept this amendment.

I understand the Minister is prepared to extend it to six months. I do not believe six months is sufficient. Again, no breeder I know would breed a bitch at six months. It would be cruel to start breeding bitches at six months of age. The two years I have suggested might be excessive. We had intended to make it one year. If the Minister were prepared to set the period at one year, it would be acceptable. He has suggested that the four months is not right and that he will amend it in the Lower House. That bears testimony to the fact that he got it wrong in the first place. Four months is ludicrous and this is the Bill on which we are voting. While the Minister has taken a small step by intending to increase it, there is no evidence of it before this House. There is no amendment to that effect, which is what we would have expected.

We cannot agree with what the Minister has said. He intends to go a small bit further but it is not sufficient.

Question put: "That the word and figure proposed to be deleted stand."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 19.

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Butler, Larry.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Corrigan, Maria.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Dearey, Mark.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Feeney, Geraldine.
  • Glynn, Camillus.
  • Hanafin, John.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • McDonald, Lisa.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • O’Brien, Francis.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Cannon, Ciaran.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • O’Reilly, Joe.
  • O’Toole, Joe.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Prendergast, Phil.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Twomey, Liam.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Maurice Cummins and Joe O’Reilly.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 31; Níl, 16.

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Butler, Larry.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carroll, James.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Corrigan, Maria.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Dearey, Mark.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Feeney, Geraldine.
  • Glynn, Camillus.
  • Hanafin, John.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • McDonald, Lisa.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • O’Brien, Francis.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Cannon, Ciaran.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • O’Reilly, Joe.
  • O’Toole, Joe.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Twomey, Liam.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Maurice Cummins and Joe O’Reilly.
Question declared carried.

As a result of an omission by a Senator present in the Chamber to vote Níl, the result of the division as shown on the display board has been amended, with the agreement of the Tellers for both sides. The amended result will appear in the Journal of Proceedings.

Sitting suspended at 4.20 p.m. and resumed at 5 p.m.