A company controlled by the Irish Greyhound Board has taken a High Court action against animal rights activists protesting at its stadiums, including Shelbourne Park.
Shelbourne Greyhound Stadium Limited, which is 99 per cent owned by the IGB, lodged papers in the High Court this week, naming five people who have been involved in protests against greyhound racing, as well as "other persons unknown".
The IGB refused to comment on the proceedings, but legal sources suggested they are almost certain to be an injunction against the protestors. One of the defendants, Noiren Carrigg, confirmed she had attended protests along with her husband, also a named defendant, at Enniscorthy and Shelbourne Park Greyhound stadiums. She said the other named defendants were all involved in the protests as well.
Ms Carrigg told The Irish Times she and her husband were "ordinary people" who had no history of advocacy until the RTÉ Investigates programme on the greyhound industry was broadcast earlier this year.
She said that she and other protestors named as defendants would have been involved in actions at the Shelbourne Park stadium for some time, which she said were peaceful and conducted in accordance with agreements with local residents.
A spokesman for the IGB said it “will not be commenting pending the Court’s consideration of issues”.
Elsewhere, a report released by animal protection groups in Dublin criticised the awarding of more than €250 million in public funds to the IGB since 2001. The report, which was produced by US based charity Grey2K and the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, said it was "an utter travesty that the Irish government continues to reward this appalling cruelty and abuse with millions of euros annually, while animal rescue groups carry out their vital work on a pittance".
The report argues that a model of overbreeding greyhounds “is at the centre of this crisis”. “From birth to track to rescue centre, dogs are sacrificed during all stages of the process, and underfunded charities are forced to pick up the pieces left by an industry that has demonstrated it is unable to protect the interests of the dogs it produces”.
The IGB has announced a series of measures aimed at animal welfare since the screening of the RTÉ programme this year. However, it has also said it does not find a report which formed a core part of the programme credible, despite it being commissioned by the IGB. It has also made a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland over the programme.
Amid dwindling attendances at racetracks, government funds have become increasingly important for the survival of the industry in Ireland. A report commissioned by the IGB from economic consultancy Indecon, due before the end of the year, is expected to recommend that the “footprint” of the industry be scaled back, including some stadium closures.
The IGB had no comment on the report when contacted.