That Dáil Éireann approves the following Regulations in draft:
Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2016,
copies of which were laid in draft form before Dáil Éireann on 21 November 2016.
The most recent estimates available suggest the horse and greyhound racing industries combined underpin more than 24,000 jobs and stimulate approximately €1.6 billion in economic output. The Estimates for my Department, passed by both Houses as part of budget 2017, include an allocation of €80 million for the horse and greyhound racing fund. This will be distributed in accordance with section 12(6) of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001, with 80%, some €64 million, going to HRI, Horse Racing Ireland, and 20%, some €16 million, to Bord na gCon.
To allow my Department to provide the moneys allocated in budget 2017, it is necessary to comply with the technical requirement under section 12(13) of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, to increase the cumulative limit on the amount payable from the horse and greyhound racing fund by €80 million to €1.118 billion. This is achieved by way of the regulations submitted to this House today. The aggregate limit on the horse and greyhound racing fund has been increased in this manner in 2004 and from 2009 to 2015, inclusive.
It is estimated the Irish bloodstock industry provides 14,000 jobs and contributes almost €1.1 billion to the economy. In 2015, bloodstock export sales rose to €268 million in what was a remarkable year for the Irish bloodstock industry. Ireland holds a distinguished position in the thoroughbred racing world, being the largest producer of thoroughbred foals in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Approximately 40% of the EU output of thoroughbreds and 11% of the total worldwide are produced in Ireland.
The greyhound racing sector is also an important driver of employment and economic activity in both rural and urban areas. A report by the economist Jim Power in 2010 estimated the greyhound industry employed over 10,300 people and contributed an estimated €500 million in economic output to local economies around tracks which have a wide geographic spread. As part of the Government’s commitment to the sector, its overall objective is to ensure the horse and greyhound racing industries achieve their maximum potential and, in so doing, contribute to economic and social development.
I will shortly be bringing forward the heads of a greyhound industry Bill to ensure the principles of good governance and regulation are clearly and unambiguously laid down in primary legislation. In broad terms, the Bill will seek to provide a statutory framework for improved governance, tighter regulation and stronger powers to deal with breaches of the racing code. It will also address issues identified in a report authored by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in January 2016, as well as those contained in both the Indecon report and the Morris review of anti-doping and medication control. This Bill will strengthen the greyhound industry and give it the powers to deal with issues of regulation in a more effective way.
Without doubt, Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon face significant challenges as they work to grow and develop the horse and greyhound industries in an extremely competitive market segment. The €80 million allocation is vital to help secure rural jobs and sustain rural communities. Given that these two industries have footprints in many parts of rural Ireland, I am confident it is the goal of all of us here to realise fully the contribution of these sectors to the Irish economy, employment and the social and cultural fabric of the country. Accordingly, I ask Deputies for their support to ensure Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon receive the funding provided for in budget 2017 and that the very important role of these industries and the economic activity generated by them are sustained into the future. I commend this regulation to the House.