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Fund life-saving medication instead of horse and greyhound racing
16 December 2016

A mother desperately trying to get the government to provide life-saving Cystic Fibrosis medication for her daughter has hit out at a massive €80 million grant handed over this month to the horse and greyhound racing industries.

Speaking from her daughter's bedside in Crumlin Childrens' Hospital, Hazel Robinson asked "Is a greyhound more important than children's lives?"

She told the Topic newspaper that her daughter is fighting for her life, despite the availability of a drug that can help her. "When a drug becomes available that can help, they should be getting it the minute it hits the shelves."

The Orkambi drug (which improves lung function and reduces hospitalisation for cystic fibrosis patients) would cost the health service €160,000 per patient per year, or €400 million over five years.

€400 million over five years, or €80 million per year, matches the amount the government is happy to hand over to gambling industries.

Minister for Health Simon Harris (who was one of the 105 TDs who last week voted to approve the latest grants to horse and greyhound racing) said in relation to Orkambi that he would not be “bullied or extorted” by a drug company seeking an excessive payment, nor would he allow the taxpayer to be extorted.

"€80 million has been pumped into the greyhound and horse racing industries this year alone," Hazel Robinson commented. "But when it comes to giving our children life-saving medication, we have to fight tooth and nail for it. What does that say about our country. Parents shouldn't have to go begging on the streets and I shouldn't have to go on social media and cry my heart out to the nation, begging for my child's life."


Join 37,000 others in signing Hazel's petition which urges the Irish Government to approve the medication

Contact your TDs and urge them to stop using scarce public money to fund gambling industries. Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses Write to your TDs at: Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: +353 (0)1-618 3000 or 1890 337 889. Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.

Please sign and share the petition

Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Industry

Letter to Editor - Irish Independent

Government prioritising horse and dog racing over ill children
Irish Independent, March 27 2017

We have heard a lot lately about the heart-breaking plight of families battling the Government to secure funding for life-saving cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.

Distribution of the drug is delayed due to an annual cost of around €80m. This, coincidentally, is the exact amount paid out by the Government this year to horse and greyhound racing, bringing the total handed over in the past 15 years to more than €1bn.

As revealed recently in the Dáil, a significant portion of the horse racing grant goes into prize money for "very rich owners and trainers", while the €16m for dog racing is propping up a cruel and collapsing industry which the public is overwhelmingly rejecting - evident in a 50pc drop in track attendance and a 58pc fall in sponsorship.

Claims that the industry deserves cash injections because of related jobs are being increasingly challenged, with one politician saying the employment figures are "such an over-estimate, it's almost laughable".

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has declared that "the greyhound industry employs over 10,300 people" but this month, it emerged that in the Irish Greyhound Board, there is only 128 full-time staff.

In December, as cystic fibrosis patients waited, Health Minister Simon Harris was among the 105 TDs who approved the latest massive racing grants, prompting a distraught parent to ask if dog and horse races are more important than suffering children.

How obscene that politicians enthusiastically squander scarce public money on rotten racing industries, but when it comes to providing vital medication there is suddenly a focus on cost-effectiveness and getting value for taxpayers.

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against Blood Sports

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