Concerns raised over future of greyhound industry

The closure of Harold's Cross Stadium was confirmed earlier this month

Concerns raised over future of greyhound industry

File photo. Picture by Niall Carson PA Archive/PA Images

Concerns have been raised about the future of greyhound racing in Ireland following the recent closure of Harold's Cross Stadium in Dublin.

The semi-state Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) confirmed the closure of the stadium earlier this month, as it continues its efforts to address its "legacy debt burden" of €20.3 million.

As a result of the closure, the organisation announced an expansion of the racing schedule at nearby Shelbourne Park - which has twice the capacity of the other Dublin greyhound stadium.

The closure came amid an ongoing dispute between the IGB and the Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association (DGOBA) / Irish Greyhound Owners And Breeders Federation (IGOBF) over the stadium.

In a statement following the closure, the two owners' organisations called on owners to not make their dogs available for 'Harold's Cross nights' or Saturday events at Shelbourne.

The organisations explained: "The IGOBF has for the last four years warned of the financial problems that were facing the greyhound industry if the lawless culture and two tier regulation of the IGB was not dealt with.

"The first step in rectifying the problems of the Irish Greyhound Industry is the removal of these deficient Board members and replacing them with suitably qualified people," they added.

Protests by greyhound owners have led to the cancellation of racing nights and races over the last month.

The Harold's Cross closure was discussed in the Dáil and Seanad last week, with Minister Michael Creed suggesting: "While this is very regrettable, its view is that there is no other option if the burden of debt on the organisation is to be reduced in any meaningful way."

Fianna Fáil Junior Spokesperson on Agriculture, Jackie Cahill, described the closure as a "bad omen for the entire industry".

He said: “The industry is a significant employer, especially in rural Ireland, and it contributes over €500 million to the Irish economy every year.

“Prize money needs to be increased to entice owners to take part in races. When the best dogs are competing, the people will vote with their feet and attend the race meetings.

“The greyhound industry needs to be supported. Jobs right across the country are at risk, and it’s time that the Government delivered on its promises to owners, breeders and supporters alike," Deputy Cahill added.