asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will introduce legislation forbidding the use of the whip on horses at race meetings in the Republic in view of the abuse of the practice on Irish and other racecourses.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Use of Whip at Race Meetings.
If it should be established at any time that the abuse to which the Deputy refers is prevalent, or is likely to become prevalent, at race meetings in this country, the governing bodies administering horse-racing here, namely the Stewards of the Irish Turf Club and the Stewards of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, have adequate powers of control under their rules. I do not, therefore, see the need for the introduction of new legislation.
I had hoped the Minister of State would know enough about the subject to know that the Irish Jockey Club are inquiring into the question because of the evidence frequently on television of the abuse of the whip. Does the Minister not agree that it gives scandal to young people to see frequently exhausted horses being mercilessly whipped for sport by adults at race meetings? Will he not give some indication to the Irish Jockey Club that some curb should be put on this practice by jockeys at our race meetings?
I agree that the practice outlined by the Deputy is not desirable and should not be encouraged in any way. As I have said, the Irish Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee have the power to take action if any evidence is presented to them and I assume they would do that.
Will the Minister of State give some indication of the thinking of the House in respect of the use of the short whip, as is the case in the Scandinavian countries? Apparently some of our jockeys choose particularly vicious whips, whalebone whips with special stitching. Will the Minister give some indication that there should be some limitation imposed on the use of the whip—perhaps every third stride as in the Scandinavian countries? Is there any base line the Government would like to see observed by the Irish Jockey Club?
I must confess I am not a racing enthusiast and I may not be as familiar with the practice as the Deputy. As far as I know we have no base line but this matter is always under close scrutiny by the Irish Turf Club.
Corporal punishment, greyhound racing, all part of the same sadistic pattern.
(Cavan-Monaghan): Does the Minister not think that a question like this backs up the English stewards who want to give the impression that Irish jockeys are cruel and unfair to the horses when that is not the case? Deputy Browne would appear to be playing the game of the English stewards who were unfair to Irish jockeys.
The Deputy is making a statement. I am calling the next question.
The Irish jockeys accepted the decision.
(Cavan-Monaghan): They had no option.
I have called the next question. Deputy Browne and Deputy Fitzpatrick cannot continue this argument now.