BUDGET 2023 - Finance Minister urged to DEFUND GREYHOUND RACING
25 September 2022
In a Budget 2023 submission, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has again urged Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to Defund Greyhound Racing.
“We are calling on you and the government to recognise that greyhound racing is a cruel and dying ‘industry’ and to stop propping it up with millions of euros of Irish taxpayers’ money,” we stated.
In our submission we highlighted the cruelty and killing upon which greyhound racing is based, including the doping of greyhounds, the use of rabbits and kittens to illegally blood greyhounds and the annual killing of thousands of greyhounds who are not quick enough to win races.
We told Minister Donohoe about last month’s gruesome discovery of greyhound skulls and bones in a bog, 2km from Newbridge greyhound track and about the ongoing export of greyhounds to hellholes abroad.
In relation to the rehoming of greyhounds, we pointed out that “Greyhound Racing Ireland is quick to quote rehoming stats but these only cover a fraction of the dogs exiting racing”. Brought to the Minister’s attention was the fact that “there are serious doubts about the accuracy of its rehoming figures, given revelations that some greyhounds listed as ‘rehomed’ on the GRI website were, in reality, exported for use in racing and coursing in China and Pakistan, countries with little or no animal welfare legislation where horrific cruelty occurs.”
The Government has handed over more than €309 million (€309,966,146) to Greyhound Racing Ireland in the past two decades, including €16.8 million for 2020, €19.2 million for 2021 and €17.6 million for 2022. The funding has shamefully continued despite it being clear that public interest in greyhound racing has been significantly declining - reflected in plummeting attendances at tracks.
Greyhound Racing Ireland has attempted to hide the low level of public support for racing by presenting deceitful attendance statistics. These misleading figures have been used to try and justify the continuation of government grants by conveying a level of public interest which does not exist. It emerged earlier this year that GRI has been substantially boosting its “attendance” numbers by outrageously including greyhound owners, greyhound trainers and bookies who are involved in racing.
In relation to Greyhound Racing Ireland’s flagship Shelbourne Park stadium - which it has laughably described as a "significant social and cultural asset to the people of Dublin and Ireland", despite average race attendance there last year of just 198 - we stressed that the government must move to stop GRI from squandering €2.3 million on the venue to “significantly improve the overall customer experience at the venue”.
With customers dwindling and overall interest in greyhound racing at an all time low, there can be no justification for this expenditure or for the continuation of the massive state grants that are keeping this cruel, dog-killing activity afloat.
The government is being urged to prioritise housing over gambling and facilitate the demolition of the stadium for much needed housing in Dublin City.
Minister Donohoe was also told about a plan by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain to minimise imports of greyhounds from Ireland.
This shrinking of the UK market - the main export destination for Irish greyhounds - will exacerbate the effects of overbreeding and is likely to lead to the killing of even more greyhounds in Ireland and almost certainly an increase in the number of Irish greyhounds exported to China and Pakistan and also to Spain where greyhounds are hung from trees and flung down wells to die slow deaths.
Greyhound Racing Ireland presents employment as a reason for continued government funding. However, its employment figures are highly questionable. For example, estimated employment figures included in a GRI-commissioned economic report were supplied by Greyhound Racing Ireland itself.
GRI has a history of presenting misleading information and attempting to bury damning details.
They have claimed that the “industry” supports thousands of jobs but these are estimates and not factual figures. GRI’s job estimates in the past have been ridiculed as “almost laughable” and “more than questionable”.
Regardless of the numbers employed, it is unacceptable for the government to back jobs that are connected to an activity that causes so much suffering and death and which damages Ireland’s international reputation.
Redirecting the funding away from greyhound racing into sporting groups, health and homeless charities, animal rescues centres, environmental groups, music and drama projects could create a greater number of jobs, with the added benefit of enriching people’s lives, enhancing the health and wellbeing of participants and avoiding supporting a gambling sector at a time when Ireland is tackling a gambling addiction epidemic.
Another reason to stop the funding is greyhound racing’s close connection to cruel hare coursing.
“By propping up greyhound racing, the government is also sustaining hare coursing - a blood sport which 77% of Irish citizens want banned,” we outlined in our submission. “Registration fees for greyhounds used at tracks are paid to the Irish Coursing Club, an income stream that is helping to keep this shameful activity alive.”
In coursing, thousands of Irish Hares are snatched from the wild, held in captivity for weeks or months and used as live bait for greyhounds to chase. Every coursing season, hares are hit and pinned on coursing fields and suffer painful injuries and die. All the hares suffer the fear and stress of being manhandled, kept in unnatural captivity and forced to run for their lives.
The continuation of this bloodsport 22 years into the new millennium shames Ireland. It was outlawed in the UK in 2004 and a ban came into effect in Northern Ireland over a decade ago in 2010. It is banned in most countries around the world and Ireland is one of only three countries in the EU that continue to permit it.
A RED C opinion poll conducted in 2019 found that a two-thirds majority of Irish citizens want the funding scrapped, with just 16% in favour of it continuing. Petitions calling on the government to stop the funding have attracted more than 424,000 signatures.
“Please recognise the views of the majority who want the funding stopped and ensure that not a single cent is allocated to greyhound racing in Budget 2023,” we concluded in our appeal to Minister Donohoe.
Join us in urging Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to defund greyhound racing.
Minister Paschal Donohoe
Tel: (01) 618 3689
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform)
Please contact your local TDs and urge them to stop the funding. Visit the Oireachtas website for contact details for TDs
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Leinster House: 01–618 3000
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Leader, Sinn Fein
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Please sign and share the petitions
Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Racing
Stop supporting the cruel greyhound “industry”
GAA: Stop club fundraisers at greyhound tracks
Tell Gain Pet Nutrition to Stop Sponsoring Greyhound Racing
Watch RTE’s award-winning “Greyhounds Running For Their Lives” documentary
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