Third sponsor pulls support for Irish Greyhound Board

Feed manufacturer Connolly’s Red Mills’ decision follows claims of animal abuse

An RTÉ broadcast raised concerns over the treatment of greyhounds. File photograph: Peter Kohalmi/AFP/Getty Images

An RTÉ broadcast raised concerns over the treatment of greyhounds. File photograph: Peter Kohalmi/AFP/Getty Images

 

A third sponsor has pulled its support for the Irish Greyhound Board in less than a week, increasing the pressure on the industry as it struggles to control the fallout from an RTÉ Investigates programme broadcast last week.

Animal feed manufacturer Connolly’s Red Mills said in a statement today that it was ceasing its sponsorship of greyhound racing “following the shocking revelations broadcast by RTÉ Investigates on June 26th, 2019, into certain practices by individuals relating to the treatment of greyhounds”.

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

The withdrawal of sponsorship comes after a week in which both Barry’s Tea and FBD Insurance cancelled long-standing relationships with the sport. The Oireachtas agriculture committee is set to hear evidence from the board and the Irish Coursing Club over matters relating to animal welfare next Tuesday.

The board has announced a package of reforms aimed at improving welfare standards and increasing resources for the rehoming of retired greyhounds in the wake of the programme, and issued another update on reforms after Barry’s Tea and FBD withdrew sponsorship. However, the withdrawal of sponsorship by Connolly’s indicates that sponsors are unconvinced by the reforms.

The company in a statement explicitly referred to the regulatory response to the controversy: “It is clear that a number of cruel and unscrupulous practices are being pursued by individuals and the failure of the regulatory bodies in the sector to address these unacceptable activities has led Connolly’s Red Mills to make this decision”.

“Connolly’s Red Mills prides itself in providing the best nutrition for pets, working animals and elite sports animals. The welfare of greyhounds is of the utmost concern [to the company] and it is horrified by the completely unacceptable acts that were broadcast by RTÉ. No one who cares about animals can condone the practices depicted in the broadcast.”