Recent weeks have presented significant challenges for the greyhound racing community and the wider industry.
The following is an Irish Greyhound Board update in relation to current items:
Implementation of short-term and medium-term initiatives for the care and welfare of the greyhound.
A number of short-term measures such as the extension and enhancement of our foster care scheme, an additional financial support for Irish re-homings to our partnered private rehoming agencies (worth €100 per greyhound) and a confidential phone line, the Greyhound Care Line, available on 061 448100, have all been put in place. A greyhound injury support scheme will shortly be launched together with an expanded draft of the Code of Practice for the Care & Welfare of Greyhounds. This expanded Code of Practice will be circulated to all greyhound owners when completed. Further work is being done in relation to statutory regulation regarding euthanasia of a greyhound and also on the framework for an overall traceability system. Discussions have taken place with the ICC and are this week taking place with GBGB. The Board will consider at its July meeting on Tuesday next proposals for the establishment of a designated ‘Care Fund’ and the arrangements for providing financial support to this fund. We are also at an advanced stage of discussion with the Greyhound Pets of America and Finding Loving Irish Greyhounds Homes Together (FLIGHT) regarding a major re-homing initiative in the USA. It is expected that, assuming the partnership comes to fruition, an additional 300 greyhounds will be re-homed in the US in the first year.
Ongoing media engagement.
From a media perspective, the IGB has issued a number of media statements outlining the various initiatives that were discussed both at a special Board meeting on the 28th June and further outlined during our appearance in front of the Joint Committee for Agriculture, Food & the Marine on 9th July. These initiatives have received extensive coverage in both print and broadcast media. Direct media engagements have taken place on RTE Radio 1 (Morning Ireland & Countrywide), Today FM (The Last Word), Newstalk (The Hard Shoulder with Ivan Yates), Cork’s 96FM (The Opinion Line with PJ Coogan), Galway Bay FM (Keith Finnegan Show), Radio Kerry (Kerry Today), Tipp FM (Tipp Today with Fran Curry), Clare FM ( Morning Focus) and Live 95 in Limerick. These engagements have been part of a wider media/communications plan formed in-house and supplemented and supported by the ongoing PR efforts of an external agency. An opinion piece has also been published in the Sunday Independent – Ireland’s most widely read newspaper with a circulation of over 600,000 people - highlighting a number of issues raised in the initial RTE Investigates broadcast and further promoting a number of new initiatives as mentioned above. Further proposals and discussions are in train with the external PR agency to continue to promote all that is good within the industry across both mainstream and digital media.
Protests at stadia.
As many of you will be aware, protests have become a feature of activity at some of our greyhound tracks and stadia. While we fully respect the right to protest and have accommodated protests in recent weeks, the rights of the greyhound owner, trainer and patrons in general to attend at greyhound stadia and enjoy greyhound racing must also be respected and should not be compromised. Greyhound racing is a legitimate national sport and a significant industry for the Irish economy. The support of the greyhound community has been evident at various greyhound tracks in recent weeks and this is to be commended and demonstrates a strong passion for the sport. The IGB would request, and based on the strong advice from An Garda Siochana, that the greyhound community would not engage in any form of ‘counter protest’ at greyhound tracks and stadia as such activity is likely to enflame an already volatile situation and result in an unsafe environment for all. Such outcomes do not reflect well on anybody, including the greyhound community. The clear advice is not to engage in any form of activity that would increase tensions and compromise the safety of all involved. The IGB seeks the full cooperation of the greyhound community in conducting our business in a calm, non-confrontational way at the present time.
Control Committee meetings.
The independent Control Committee continues to meet regularly to deal with cases referred to it by the Board. At its meeting on Monday last, the Committee dealt with four cases. The parties to these cases will be notified of the decision of the Committee and the right of appeal. In the event of no appeal, the decision of the Committee will be published on the IGB website and in the Sporting Press. The Committee also considered a case from 2017 which was the subject of High Court proceedings in 2018 and on which there is a further High Court case pending. The Committee has adjourned consideration of this case to its next meeting in September 2019.