Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (371)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

371. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to end grants to the greyhound industry in view of an opinion poll (details supplied); if he will review the allocation to the industry in view of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49004/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

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 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.  The Greyhound Racing Act 2019 which was signed by the President on 28 May 2019 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. Bord na gCon will continue to invest significant resources into regulation and greyhound welfare and it intends to devote more resources to welfare, re-homing and traceability. 

Any suspension of funds would have immediate consequences for employment in the sector and could have unintended consequences for the welfare of dogs used for racing and coursing. Future financial support of the greyhound industry will entail a refocusing of funding towards welfare initiatives in the first instance - making welfare standards the centrepiece of the industry.