Dog handler challenges order banning him from greyhound events

Christopher Connolly (25) was sanctioned in Australia in 2014 over use of piglet as live bait

A dog handler has brought a High Court challenge against a decision banning him from attending greyhound racetracks or coursing events. Image: iStock.

A dog handler has brought a High Court challenge against a decision banning him from attending greyhound racetracks or coursing events, a sanction linked to the use of a piglet as bait to train dogs in Australia.

Christopher Connolly (25), of Farney's Cross, Cappawhite, Co Tipperary, took the action over the move by the Irish greyhound racing board, Bórd na gCon, which was consented to by the Irish Coursing Club.

The court heard the exclusion order against Mr Connolly arose out of an incident at Tooradin Trial Track in Australia four years ago in which a piglet was used as live bait to train greyhounds.

Following an investigation of that and other incidents where piglets and rabbits were used as live bait, greyhound regulators in Victoria, Australia handed 10 people involved in training greyhounds bans.


Mr Connolly, who returned to Ireland in 2015, received a lifetime ban but this was later reduced to five years on appeal.

He applied in 2016 to Bórd na gCon for a kennelhand authorisation, which would allow him to work in the industry. The application was turned down by the board, which informed Mr Connolly that he was “not a fit and proper person to be certified”. The board then informed Mr Connolly it was investigating him over what had occurred in Australia.


Mr Connolly was in May informed by the board that it was making the exclusion order against him and had obtained the consent of the Irish Coursing Club. He claims the decision is flawed and should be set aside on grounds including that it is unreasonable and irrational.

He claims the board did not comply with the principles of natural justice or basic fairness when arriving at its decision to exclude him and that no adequate reasons were cited for the decision.

Mr Connolly further alleges that the investigation relied upon by the board before it made its decision never took place. He claims that the exclusion order was decided on in advance of any submissions from him.

He is seeking orders quashing a decision by the board prohibiting him being on any greyhound race tracks, any authorised coursing meeting or any public sale of greyhounds. He also seeks an order quashing the Irish Coursing Club’s consent to the making of the exclusion order. He further seeks a declaration that the order is invalid and is also seeking damages.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte basis, by the High Court late last month.Mr Connolly’s lawyers on Tuesday said it had been agreed between the parties that there would be a stay on his exclusion until the case had been determined. The matter is to return before the court in November.