Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Questions (456)

Niall Collins

Question:

456. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason greyhound tracks here were denied the opportunity to stage greyhound race meetings nationally from the same date as horse racing meetings in view of the importance of the greyhound industry nationally and the number in employment in the industry; and if an assurance will be given of equal treatment in the future in this regard. [9703/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry. Similarly, 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.

On the 1st May 2020, the Taoiseach set out a roadmap for easing the Covid -19 restrictions, which began on Monday 18th May. The Government plans to reopen the economy and society in a slow and phased manner. The roadmap sets out five stages for unlocking restrictions, at three-week intervals.

On publishing the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, the Government expressed a willingness to engage and consult with sectors on possible changes to the timings set out in the plan.

Through my Department, both HRI and Bord na gCon engaged in this consultation process and I was fully supportive of this engagement.

Following a meeting of Government on Friday 5th June 2020, it was confirmed that greyhound racing could resume behind closed doors from Monday 8th June 2020, subject to strict protocols, in line with the resumption of thoroughbred horse racing.

I have been assured that Bord na gCon will continue to put public health considerations at the forefront of its activities, and detailed protocols have been prepared by the body for operating in the current environment.