Bord na gCon is a commercial State body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Under Section 12 of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 (No.20 of 2001), the horse and greyhound racing industries receive €84m in financial support from the State through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund (the Fund). Monies are paid out of the fund in the ratio of 80% to Horse Racing Ireland and 20% to Bord na gCon as specified in Section 12 (6) of the Act. State funding provided through the Fund is pivotal to the survival of the horse and greyhound racing industries.
According to the 2017 Power Report, the greyhound industry provides and supports considerable employment both directly and indirectly across the Irish economy. It is estimated that in 2016, the industry supported 5,058 full-time and part-time jobs in the economy. In addition, there are 7,313 active greyhound owners. The total number of people deriving economic benefit from the sector is estimated at 12,371. It is an industry that is ingrained in the social and cultural networks of rural Ireland.
It is worth noting that the Greyhound Sector has undergone a series of reforms in recent times and the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 was signed by the President on the 28th May 2019. This legislation strengthens the legal basis for the industry, with a view to fortifying the integrity of the greyhound racing sector and improving provision for greyhound traceability. To this end, I welcome the fact that Bord na gCon will continue to invest significant resources into regulation and greyhound welfare. Following the RTE Investigates Programme, the Board of Bord Na gCon has just announced that further resources will be devoted to the areas of traceabilty, fostering and re-homing of greyhounds and an increase in the levels of inspection of greyhound establishments.
I am very concerned that steps must immediately be taken to address the issues raised in the programme referred to by the Deputy. However, the suspension of funds could have immediate consequences for employment in the sector and could have unintended consequences for the welfare of dogs bred for racing and coursing.