I welcome the Minister to discuss this Commencement matter which relates to the Irish greyhound industry. I question the modus operandi of the Irish Greyhound Board which is in receipt of a taxpayer subsidy of €285,000 per week this year. However, its level of communication with and flow of information to the Irish Greyhound Owners And Breeders Federation which represents the owners and breeders of greyhounds in this country is abysmal and shocking, to say the least. This is an ongoing issue. I could talk about the greyhound industry until midnight. It is a highlyfunded industry that has had many shortcomings, some of which were addressed by the previous Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Minister of State's stewardship as Chairman. An excellent report on the greyhound industry was produced and is available in the Oireachtas Library for all Members to read. The report highlights the significant shortcomings of the industry, particularly in the corporate governance of the Irish Greyhound Board, the drugs issue and the need for new legislation to be brought forward to deal with transparency in the sector.
The most recent report which was commissioned by the Irish Greyhound Board was on anti-doping and the medication review, the findings of which are alarming. The report was published last summer and it highlights the shortcomings of the Irish Greyhound Board in dealing with the drugs issue in greyhound racing. This is a sector of huge significance to many people throughout the country. The greyhound is often referred to as the poor man's horse. This is a wonderful industry which deserves to be supported by the State. The industry is being significantly supported by the State, but, unfortunately, it appears that it continues to lose money. The State agency involved refuses to engage with the breeders and owners of greyhounds. That is shocking, alarming and unacceptable. The Minister of State was probably given the line today by the Irish Greyhound Board that a forum had been established to deal with all of these concerns, but, unfortunately, the breeders and the owners have no confidence in that forum. They have made a decision not to be part of it.
There may be questions around that. I believe the reason the breeder and owners have done that is because they want to keep their own integrity. Given the fact the chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board is also the chairman of the forum, it appears that the forum is dining à la carte as to who is on it and who comes before it.
If questions have been raised by the industry - they have not been made up by me here today - then they have to be addressed. The only way to address them is through proper and meaningful legislation. To be fair, this was dealt with by the then Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, with the Horse Racing Ireland legislation in the previous Oireachtas. The Minister of State, Deputy Andrew Doyle, has written to me recently about his own efforts to bring in legislation for the greyhound industry. I cannot emphasise enough, however, the need to do this quickly to save this great industry from its near collapse and to secure its future.