The Irish Coursing Club (ICC) has been responsible for the Irish Greyhound Stud Book since 1923 and there have been no reported issues with the manner in which the ICC discharges this function. The Irish Coursing Club is subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, which is the statutory body with responsibility for the improvement and development of the greyhound industry, greyhound racing and coursing. Alongside its function of maintaining the Irish Greyhound Stud Book the Irish Coursing Club has also the main function of the regulation of coursing.
The ICC has confirmed that it has systems in place to underpin the welfare of animals participating in coursing events. These include mandatory inspections of hares and coursing venues in advance of the commencement of an event. Greyhounds involved in coursing are subject to the provisions of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 and the Code of Practice for the care and welfare of greyhounds, published by Bord na gCon. The ICC has assured my Department that it goes to great lengths to ensure the highest standards are adhered to during coursing.
Regarding the supervision of coursing events the ICC ensures that a veterinary surgeon and a control steward are present at all coursing meetings. In addition to this, veterinary staff from my Department and rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (part of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) carry out random monitoring inspections during the coursing season to verify compliance with the licences and the rules governing animal welfare.
As a further control, a Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established during the 1993/94 coursing season and is comprised of officials from my Department and representatives from both the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the ICC to monitor developments in coursing and in that regard the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a well controlled and responsible manner in the interests of hares and greyhounds alike.
A very high proportion (98.09%) of the hares captured for hare coursing were returned to the wild at the end of the 2012/2013 season. Against this background as outlined, I have no plans to change the current arrangements for greyhound registrations.