Entire board of greyhound body should resign, says Ross

Practices uncovered in RTÉ Investigates amounted to ‘subsidised cruelty’

Protesters outside the Department of Agriculture campaign against cruelty to greyhounds. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Protesters outside the Department of Agriculture campaign against cruelty to greyhounds. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

The Cabinet has heard calls for the entire board of the Irish Greyhound Board to resign following recent controversy over animal cruelty in the industry.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Minister for Transport Shane Ross is understood to have repeatedly called on the board of Bord Na gCon to stand down.

Mr Ross said that some of the practices uncovered in the greyhound sector by a recent RTÉ Investigates were “subsidised cruelty” and that the Irish Greyhound Board should have acted earlier to safeguard dogs.

There was a 40-minute discussion at Cabinet on the issue, with Andrew Doyle, the Minister of State with responsibility for the sector, attending the meeting.

The RTÉ broadcast raised concerns over the treatment of dogs and the potential widespread culling of thousands of animals based on their performances.

Barry’s Tea, FBD Insurance and animal feed manufacturer Connolly’s Red Mills have since pulled their sponsorship of greyhound racing.

The Government now looks set to ensure that the greyhound industry increases its spending on welfare and traceability to at least 10 per cent of the €16 million in public funding it currently receives annually.

‘Care fund’

Up to €400,000 is spent on these issues, although this is likely to jump to at least €1.6 million if the Government plan goes ahead.

The Irish Greyhound Board is advancing plans to institute a levy on attendance income, prize money and a percentage of all sponsorship to be paid into a “care fund” which will be managed through a trust with external appointees monitoring the care and welfare programme, an Oireachtas committee heard earlier this month.

Frank Nyhan, chairman of Bord na gCon, told the committee said he is a dog owner and that “anybody who ever owned a dog would be horrified by what they saw” in the programme.

Mr Nyhan said the greyhound industry has been damaged in the past two weeks by the controversy.

“Of course the greyhound industry has been damaged... The manifestation of that damage has been the withdrawal of high-profile sponsors. It is understandable why people would have withdrawn their sponsorship.”