Greyhound export plan shelved

 

The Irish Greyhound Board has shelved plans to export Irish greyhounds to China after the Department of Agriculture refused to approve the proposal.

The decision was welcomed by animal rights groups which had raised concerns about China's poor animal welfare record.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Shane McEntee said he met the Irish Greyhound Board yesterday and "made it clear" that he was "not in a position to approve the project as presented".

It was agreed that the board would "modify its proposal" to exclude the export of greyhounds from Ireland, Mr McEntee told the Dáil late yesterday.

The proposal was blocked despite assurances given by the board that it would own and care for any Irish greyhounds exported to China "within a strong welfare framework".

The board is to continue to explore the possibility of helping to manage Chinese greyhound stadiums. It previously held talks with Beijing authorities about establishing a multi-million-euro greyhound franchise in China.

Chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board, Adrian Neilan, said it was a "joint decision reached by all parties" and the board was "very comfortable with this decision".

It is still a "great business opportunity" and the change allows the board to focus on the portion of the project that "requires our expertise in the design, build and subsequent long-term management of brand new stadia in China," he said.

Irish charity Dogs Trust was "delighted" that greyhounds would not leave Irish shores for China.

However, Dogs Trust executive director Mark Beazley questioned the board's involvement in the development of greyhound racing in China and the wider welfare implications. Mr Beazley said he would like details of the board's welfare plans for China.

Greyhound Action Ireland said the public pressure from within Ireland and internationally had "diverted this cruel development".