Greyhound racing industry's €16m annual State funding 'is galling'

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Irish Examiner Political Correspondent

The greyhound racing industry has been accused of insulting vulnerable people on health service waiting lists by taking more than €16m a year in State funding - the equivalent of €46,000 every day.

Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells said the scale of money being given to the sector is "galling" and "sticks in the craw" of the public. He said more people are on home help waiting lists in his constituency than attend dog races.

At the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, Bord na gCon CEO Gerard Dollard said the greyhound group is making a series of reforms after dog safety concerns were raised during a June RTÉ expose.

However, Mr Cassells said even if the changes are made there are legitimate questions to be asked about the huge amount of funding given to the organisation every year. He said it should be used for other purposes.

Citing the €16m annual State funding to Bord na gCon, the Fianna Fáil TD said: "I know the figure sticks in the craw. Without that funding you'd be goosed.

"The average attendance [at a dog race] is 319 people. There'd be more people at a cricket match in Malahide.

"I've 391 people waiting for home help in Meath, I've more people, so it is galling for me."

Mr Dollard accepted any potential funding cut "is a matter for the Government".

During the same PAC meeting, Mr Dollard also faced fresh questions over whether greyhound officials have done anything to improve the welfare of dogs in the aftermath of an RTE programme earlier this year.

Asked by Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell to explain why just 3.2% of its overall spending goes on animal welfare, Mr Dollard said the figure is closer to 10%.

However, he later admitted to Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell a tracing system is still not fully in place.

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