Irish Greyhound Board questioned about coursing
01 April 2004
Green Party TD, Dan Boyle, has questioned Bord na gCon about its relationship to the Irish Coursing Club. The board's CEO was also quizzed about the blooding of greyhounds, illegal doping and the exportation of Irish greyhounds to Spain.
The full transcript of the exchange appears below.
Public Accounts Committee - Questioning of the Chief Executive of Bord na gCon
Deputy Boyle: I am grateful that most fiduciary matters have already been addressed. I return to a question on regulation and licensing asked by Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, as it was only partially answered. What is the relationship between Bord na gCon and the Irish Coursing Club? Is there dual use of dogs in racing and coursing?
Mr. Foley: That is generally not the case. On occasion, a coursing dog will move on to track racing but generally the requirements for quality greyhounds differ in racing and coursing. As the breed of greyhound is different and different sires are used, they are generally quite different dogs and few coursing dogs would run on track.
Deputy Boyle: There is some cross-over, even if it is slight.
Mr. Foley: Yes, but it would be limited.
Deputy Boyle: There is a possibility that development money and prize money earned might be going to owners and trainers whose dogs use blooding, for instance, as a training method.
Mr. Foley: The board has not supported the Irish Coursing Club financially. If a greyhound which had previously been coursing ran at a greyhound track and was good enough to win, the owner would have an entitlement to prize money. The board, as a regulatory body, would not be in a position to regulate against owners running a greyhound, whether a coursing or racing greyhound, at a racing track. I believe the board would be in serious legal difficulties if it tried to implement any such restrictions.
Deputy Boyle: The board does not have guidelines, such as those pertaining to doping, that blooding should not be used as a training method.
Mr. Foley: The board would not condone blooding.
Deputy Boyle: It could happen without its knowledge.
Mr. Foley: Anything can happen without one's knowledge but if the board became aware of blooding, it would view it as a very serious matter and refer it to the control committee for appropriate sanction.
Deputy Boyle: On the other side of that coin, Bord na gCon operates a trust which receives €250,000 every year. There is an ongoing problem with the export of old greyhounds to countries such as Spain. What type of role does Bord na gCon play in preventing or regulating this practice or ensuring that greyhounds remain here when they are retired from racing?
Mr. Foley: Bord na gCon is as concerned as the Deputy about the perceived lack of care of Spain's racing federations with regard to greyhounds, to the extent that our board felt that allowing Spain to continue as a member of the World Greyhound Federation was inappropriate for animal welfare reasons, given its lack of progress in racing welfare issues and that of certain members from other jurisdiction. Our board is confident and committed in this regard.
Deputy Boyle: The trust receives €250,000 from a turnover of €41 million in the most recent accounted year. How does that compare to money spent by other greyhound federations on animal welfare issues?
Mr. Foley: I do not have specific detail on expenditure in other jurisdictions. We have established a retired greyhound trust. This is an important issue and we liaise with animal welfare bodies here and in the United Kingdom and take direction and cognisance of their views. Welfare, homing and care of greyhounds is very important to us and if they are not carried out appropriately, we will not have an industry. This is the reason for our concern about this issue.
From a regulatory point of view, we have stipendiary stewards who check the licensing and quality of kennels to ensure the welfare of greyhounds in training is appropriate.
Deputy Boyle: I notice from the annual report that the board membership is entirely male. There are no pictures or names of any females.
Mr. Foley: There is one female constituent member. In the past there were up to three members at any one time.
Deputy Boyle: That was not the case when this report was being compiled.
Mr. Foley: Perhaps not, but at one stage there were three female members of a board of seven and the board currently has one female member.
More Information: Coursing Cruelty
For more information on hare coursing cruelty in Ireland, please visit our Ban Hare Coursing website at www.banbloodsports.com/coursing.
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