Massive grants - and the services of doctors - for foxhunters
24 November 2017
Foxhunters are receiving massive grants - and the services of medical doctors - from taxpayer-funded Horse Racing Ireland, it has emerged.
The information came to light after two TDs raised questions about a Department of Agriculture logo which was prominently displayed on the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association (IMFHA) website. The logo was published in an "Our Partners" section of the foxhunters' website and was removed after the probing questions were asked.
In two Dail Questions on 14th November, Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed was queried about the claimed partnership between the foxhunting association and his department.
Clare Daly TD asked the Minister about "the nature of his department's partnership with an organisation [IMFHA] and if the organisation is in receipt of funding from his department" while Tommy Broughan TD asked about "the parameters of the partnership between his department and an organisation [IMFHA] as cited on its website; if State funding is provided to the organisation; if so, the amount provided in 2014 to 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter."
In response, Minister Creed claimed: "My Department does not provide any financial support to the organisation in question. Nor does my Department have any partnership arrangement with the organisation."
THIS RESPONSE FROM MINISTER CREED IS EXTREMELY DISENGENOUS AND MISLEADING.
The truth is that foxhunters are indeed receiving money doled out by Minister Creed and his department. Taxpayers' money is being channelled from the Department of Agriculture to Horse Racing Ireland and from there on to the foxhunters who receive major financial support for their point-to-point racing. Point-to-points are a significant fundraiser for hunts and the money taken in helps fund their appalling bloodsport activities.
In October 2016, Horse Racing Ireland issued a statement about a €64 million grant for 2017. It read: "Horse Racing Ireland welcomes the announcement today by Minister Creed of the intention to fulfil the commitment to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund for 2017 which will increase expenditure for horse racing by €4.8 million next year."
On the Horse Racing Ireland website, fox hunts are invited to apply for "Point-to-Point Grant Payments". HRI states: "In order for a Hunt to receive payment, they must follow the conditions/requirements and complete the grant application form...The current grant payment for all Hunts is €4,500 per meeting. Each race is paid at €800 per race."
As reported by ICABS in 2015, point-to-point racing, run by foxhunting clubs, received more than a million euro that year alone from Horse Racing Ireland. But since then, the amount being handed over to hunts has seen a huge increase.
Earlier this year, Horse Racing Ireland announced details of a major funding increase for point to points.
"Recognising the difficulties faced by the handlers and hunt clubs, we have significantly increased our allocation to the point-to-point sector in further support of the grassroots of the industry," HRI said in a statement.
"In conjunction with the INHS [Irish National Hunt Steeplechase] Committee, there will be a significant increase in funding for point-to-point racing of €728,000 giving a total allocation of €2.2 million including integrity costs of €745,000. Grants for hunts staging point-to-points will increase by €2,000 to €6,500 per meeting and minimum prize-money for races other than four-year-old and five-year-old maidens will increase from €800 to €1,200 per race."
Taxpayer-funded HRI is also paying for doctors to attend the hunts' races - "HRI will meet the cost of providing appropriately qualified medical officers at every point-to-point which was previously borne by the point-to-point organisers. These doctors will be provided by the Turf Club / Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee."
As point to points are a major fundraiser for foxhunting, we believe that this government funding is propping up many hunts and supporting what is one of the country's worst forms of cruelty to animals.
In foxhunting, foxes are pursued by a pack of hounds and chased to exhaustion. When caught, the foxes are knocked to the ground, bitten, disembowelled and pulled apart. Foxes who try to find refuge underground are pursued by hunt terriers, dug out of the ground and thrown to the pack of hounds. Instead of giving financial support to foxhunts, the government should be outlawing this shameful activity.
Since 2001, the "Horse and Greyhound Fund" has channelled OVER ONE BILLION EUROS [€1,118,000,000] of taxpayers' money into horse and greyhound racing. It is shocking that foxhunt clubs are among those benefitting and an ABSOLUTE OUTRAGE that while sick and infirm citizens are languishing on waiting lists for vital treatment, these foxhunters have the exclusive benefit of a paid-for doctors on standby at their races.
Politicians are poised to hand over another €64 million in funding to Horse Racing Ireland and €16 million to the Irish Greyhound Board for 2018. In December, TDs will have an opportunity to vote on the payment of this latest grant via the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2017. It is vital that you contact your local TDs and demand that they vote against this outrageous funding. Find TD names and contact details at http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=mem
Urge Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Prime Minister) and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to stop the funding.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Department of the Taoiseach,
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
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Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
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Phone: +353 (0)1 6045810
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Tweet to @Paschald
Please join us in demanding the removal from the Animal Health and Welfare Act of an exemption for foxhunting. Contact the government and all your local TDs and tell them the time is now for a ban on foxhunting.
Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Sign our "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland" petition
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