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The Irish Greyhound Board – Bord na gCon – are a semi state owned body and receives an annual grant from the Irish government through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund. Presently the IGB are also seeking funding from the Department of Finance to export greyhounds to China and assist the Chinese in the development of greyhound racing.
Speaking at the National Greyhound Awards in March 2011 – the IGB CEO Adrian Neilan said “The plan is to build a number of stadia in China and the Bord na gCon would provide the management expertise to deliver on this potential. In return we would secure a very significant management fee per stadia per year with all our costs already covered. Ireland would be the sole supplier of greyhounds for this venture and this would a very significant outlet for our hard pressed breeders”
(This is a snapshot of the page – original article has been removed)
China has no laws against animal cruelty and dogs are skinned alive for their fur – horrifically killed for human consumption and bludgeoned to death in the streets as a means of population and rabies control. The EU imposed a ban on the importation of dog and cat fur from China in 2008.
WARNING – VERY GRAPHIC VIDEO DEPICTING CHINESE DOGS SKINNED ALIVE. YOU WILL NEED TO SIGN IN AND VERIFY YOUR AGE TO WATCH. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
On April 19th Sky News reported the rescue of 500 dogs in Beijing – transported in horrific conditions and destined for the dog meat markets.
In December 2010 the International Monetary Fund agreed a loan of €22.5bn to help Ireland’s economy. Britain is one of the three bilateral lenders who contributed to Ireland’s bailout – more specifically to the tune of £3.25bn – with Denmark and Sweden also making a contribution.
The IMF is “a multi-year program, targeting vulnerabilities in the banking system and aiming to restore prospects for growth — without which there can be no enduring solution to the crisis. The authorities designed a program with fairness in mind so that the burden of economic and financial adjustment is shared across all levels of society, with the most vulnerable groups the most protected”
Ireland has planned to cut welfare spending by 15% – shedding €3.3bn over the next 4 years to include Child Benefit – which will undoubtedly affect those ‘most vulnerable groups’ the IMF is specifically intended to protect.
Internationally greyhound racing has been in decline for a number of years – America having seen the dog racing industry cut in half in the last 10 years with only 25 tracks remaining operational.
In Britain the industry’s income has reduced by 23% in the last 12 months and by 50% in the last 3 years despite only 4 of its 29 tracks closing in the same 3 year period.
The Irish Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund – generated through a 1% tax from off-course betting – is heavily subsidised by the Exchequer and in 2011 the Irish government contributed €11.5m towards the financing of Irish greyhound racing – a reduction of only 3.3% on the previous years grant.
The IGB is currently under extreme financial pressure due to falling income streams, especially the decreasing amounts provided from the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund and €25m in borrowings, due in large part to the costs associated with the construction of Limerick Stadium.
Page 175 – 9.3 Bord na gCon (BnG)
The decision to develop Limerick stadium at an estimated €20m – was taken in March 2009 at the height of a global recession.
The Irish government has recently been taken to court by the European Commission for the reduced rate of VAT applied on the sale of horses and greyhounds. Until 2008 – the sale of horses and greyhounds attracted a zero rate.
Last year the IGB argued vehemently for exemption of greyhounds from the Dog Breeding Bill and a compromise was agreed with the government. The Greyhound Welfare Bill was drafted – with less stringent breeding legislation but the bill has failed to be enacted – leaving the Irish greyhound unprotected by any form of welfare legislation.
The EU have for a number of years financially supported Irish greyhound racing through the Farms Diversification Scheme – which encourages farmers to establish themselves as greyhound breeders to further over breed greyhounds in a declining market.
Despite the subsidies, exemptions and lack of burdensome welfare legislation – Irish greyhound breeding has declined by at least 25% in 4 years.
However – the IGB presently boast ‘greyhound racing is responsible for close to 11,000 jobs, generating over €500 million in Ireland’ although these same figures have been continually ‘claimed’ since March 2009 and if the IGB are to be believed – it appears greyhound racing in Ireland is immune to the effects of a worldwide recession.
Bizarrely – whilst the IGB are seeking to further invest public funds in China – April’s ‘Report of the Review of the Group on State Assets and Liabilities’ states – ‘The Review Group recommends that Bord na gCon should dispose of its interests in greyhound tracks if commercially satisfactory terms become available’ and ‘HRI and Bord na gCon should dispose of their Tote interests if commercially satisfactory terms become available’
http://www.finance.gov.ie/documents/publications/reports/2011/stateassetts.pdf – Recommendations 49 & 50 – Page 117 & 118
More recently the IGB have given assurances that greyhounds will be ‘well cared for’ in China. However – the exporting of greyhounds and the selling of ‘management expertise’ to the Chinese would undoubtedly be a short term investment.
Not only would it take less than 2 years for China to establish its own breeding programme whereby the demand for Irish greyhounds would cease – it would take far less time for China – the world’s fastest growing economy – to develop – operate and control its own stadiums using the IGB’s prototype. Stadiums where the IGB would have no control over welfare issues – a point raised by a spokesperson of the Department of Agriculture who stated “As with any country, we do not have any influence on the welfare standards adopted in other countries, and these matters are more appropriately dealt with by the country’s own legislative system”
The statement also serves as a reminder that no welfare legislation currently exists in Ireland for the protection of greyhounds – a situation that the Irish press have been keen to point out in a series of articles highlighting the abuse, neglect and destruction of greyhounds.
Each year the industry breeds between 20,000 and 30,000 dogs and it is estimated 8,000 greyhound puppies – either too slow or will not chase the mechanical lure – ‘disappear down a black hole’ before even reaching the Irish tracks.
The IGB makes little provision for the dogs that are discarded by the industry once deemed of no further use as a ‘betting unit’ and despite the strenuous efforts of greyhound rescue groups in Ireland – every year many thousands of healthy young greyhounds are callously killed by their breeders/trainers or dumped in pounds – where as ‘hand ins’ they are put to sleep almost immediately. In 2008 County Clare dog pound destroyed 273 and County Kerry dog pound destroyed a further 259 greyhounds – a total of 532 in just two of Ireland’s 26 counties.
What impact could these proposals have on the Irish tourist trade? The decision to send Irish racing greyhounds to China could not only have serious consequences for the dogs but for the Irish economy in general – particularly so when images of greyhounds subjected to the aforementioned barbaric cruel practices are published worldwide.
The proposals are an offence to public morality – as evidenced by the growing number of petition signatures opposing greyhound exports to China – many of whom are Irish.
Ireland should not be subsidising these proposals – which will benefit only a small part of its economy – at a time when it is making swingeing public service cuts and the UK and EU is bailing Ireland out.
I respectfully request you do everything in your power to bear pressure on the Irish government to abandon these proposals as it is also an offence to the social safety net and makes a mockery of public expenditure at a time of such austerity.