PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS 8TH & 10TH DECEMBER

GRI

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) receives Parliamentary Questions (PQs) on an ongoing basis from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  PQs are raised by members of Dáil Éireann and provide Ministers with the opportunity to report publicly on matters for which they are responsible.

RCÉ provides information to respond  to these questions and, while all PQs and the response from the Minister are available publicly for view on the Oireachtas.ie website, we wish to share some of these recent PQs with the wider greyhound community. PQs relating to the greyhound industry  for 8th December and  10th December, are  listed below. RCÉ would intend to continue to share responses to future PQs on Talking Dogs.

Tuesday 8th December

Question:

(Available to view on Oireachtas.ie on https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2020-12-08/839/#pq_839)

Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the animal welfare commitments associated with the €96 million Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund for 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Response:

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.  Similarly, Rásaíocht Con Éireann is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.  Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

RCÉ as part of its Strategic Plan 2018-2022 has as a clear objective the maintaining of animal welfare at the centre of the industry.  RCÉ established a Care Fund in July 2019 which is dedicated to care and welfare programmes for the racing greyhound.  Measures taken to date as part of that programme include:

 The opening of the first Care Centre in Thurles in July 2020 which will act as a half-way house between the end of a racing career and the placing of the greyhound in its ‘forever home’.  The centre will allow greyhounds to be socialised and for interested parties to consider the fostering or adoption of a greyhound in such a setting.

The implementation of an extensive rehoming programme with 1470 greyhounds rehomed in 2020 to end November with assistance from the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust, an entity established by RCÉ. 

The introduction of a financial incentive for all domestic rehomings to encourage further rehoming in Ireland.

The implementation of a Foster-to-adopt Scheme.

 The operation of an Injuries at Track Financial Support Scheme whereby funding is available to address injuries sustained to racing greyhounds to ensure that they can be retired from greyhound racing.

The establishing of a confidential phone line/email through which any welfare issues can be reported on a 24/7 basis. All reports are fully investigated by RCÉ welfare staff.

 The full utilisation of the Exclusion Order process whereby a party can be excluded from being on a greyhound racing track.

 The updating of the Code of Practice for the Care and Welfare of the Greyhound which has been the subject of a public consultation process.  The Code is provided for under Section 6 of the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011.

 The continuing of an intense testing regime both at race events and through out of competition testing.  The urine sampling regime has been expanded in 2020 to also cover on a periodic basis blood sampling.  Work is also underway in terms of the necessary protocols to implement further enhancements of the testing regime through hair sampling.

 RCÉ implemented a Covid-19 Care Payment Scheme during the period of suspension of racing activity from March to June 2020.  Some €998,000 was paid under the scheme to ensure that the welfare needs of the racing greyhound were met during a period when racing activity was suspended.

In addition, as part of the conditions attached to the allocation of the Horse & Greyhound Racing Fund RCÉ is obliged to commit 10% of the fund towards welfare and integrity measures.  This would include measures in relation to regulation, testing, laboratory and other aspects of activity that will improve the welfare and integrity approach of RCÉ.

The entire allocation to Horse Racing Ireland under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund relates to animal welfare on the basis that a healthy industry which values its participants will always have the best welfare outcomes.

While owners have direct responsibility for the care and well-being of their horses, they do so as participants in a vibrant industry which requires the animals to be healthy and well looked after. Distribution of funding to prize money, racecourse facilities, integrity services etc directly contributes to the care of horses.

 Money is allocated to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, the Irish Equine Centre, the Irish Horse Welfare Trust which directly improves the care and welfare of horses, while funding provided for stable staff is also linked to good standards of care for horses.

 

Thursday 10th December

Question:

(Available to view on Oireachtas.ie on https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2020-12-10/489/#pq_489)

Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount expended by a trust (details supplied) on rehoming dogs outside of Ireland in each year since the trust was established; the amount from the budget of the trust that was spent on travel abroad and associated expenses over that time period; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Response:

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. RCÉ is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (IRGT) was established in 1997. Within the time available, it has not been possible to provide the detail sought by Deputy and I have asked the RCÉ to provide the data directly to you. 

Details of expenditure on transportation costs as per IRGT accounts are provided below for the period (2016-2020 to date).

Table (Click to view)

 

Question:

(Available to view on Oireachtas.ie on https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2020-12-10/490/#pq_490)

Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount expended on flights, accommodation and other expenses per person involved in rehoming dogs abroad through the Greyhound Racing Ireland and or the Irish Greyhound Board and a trust (details supplied) in the past five years and to date in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Response:

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. RCÉ is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The published accounts of the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust for the period 2016 -2019 include the following amounts for overseas travel:   

2016

2017

2018

2019

€527

 

-

€1,653

 

No costs have been incurred to date in 2020.

A breakdown of transportation costs to determine what elements of that cost relate to flights or other expenses relating to the partnership with Finding Loving Irish Greyhound Homes Together (FLIGHT) international rehoming programme is not currently available.  I have asked the RCÉ to provide the data to the Deputy.

Question:

(Available to view on Oireachtas.ie on https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2020-12-10/491/#pq_491)

Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of active racing greyhounds exported in the past five years and to date in 2020; and the number of retired racing greyhounds exported in the past five years and to date in 2020.

Response:

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. RCÉ is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The EU wide Trade Control and Export System (TRACES) records dogs being exported under the classification of ‘canines’. Consequently it is not possible to determine the number of greyhounds that have been exported. The Greyhound Racing Act 2019 provides for the introduction of a traceability system for racing greyhounds. RCÉ tendered for a system in early 2020 and has been working with the appointed contractor over recent months. It is expected that the traceability system will be operational before year end. The systems will, as data is generated, provide details of racing greyhounds being exported.

RCÉ has provided information regarding the international rehoming of racing greyhounds over the period 2016 – 2020 (to date) as set out below

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

422

429

372

351

529

 

Rehoming of racing greyhounds on an international basis may also take place outside of the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (IRGT) supported schemes. Private greyhound rehoming organisations and private rehomings are not accounted for through the activities of the IRGT.

 

Question:

(Available to view on Oireachtas.ie on https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2020-12-10/492/#pq_492)

Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the procedures and protocols and the animal welfare and well-being standards in place regarding rehoming racing greyhounds abroad; the number of persons that accompany a dog for travel outside of Ireland; and if an official from Greyhound Racing Ireland and or a trust (details supplied) travel with the greyhound.

Response:

Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. RCÉ is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

RCÉ and the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (IRGT) only collaborate with reputable International Greyhound Rehoming Organisations who have shown to have a proven track record in the rehoming of retired greyhounds and who have demonstrated that the care and welfare of the greyhound is of paramount importance.

I have been advised by the RCÉ that the transporting of retired greyhounds to U.K. and Europe is only carried out through the use of commercial greyhound transporters who are authorised by this Department or other relevant international authority. The transporting of retired greyhounds to the U.S. is only carried out through the use of specialist pet transporting companies who are members of organisations such as IATA. Greyhounds are also rehomed to U.S. and Canada through Finding Loving Irish Greyhounds Homes Together (FLIGHT) which involves a volunteer flight patron travelling with one, two, three or four greyhounds.

The transportation of greyhounds is normally managed by the international rehoming organisation involved or by the specialist pet transporting company. The transportation of a small number of greyhounds accompanied by a volunteer flight patron is a cost saving initiative by the IRGT as costs are lower compared with transporting commercially through a pet transporting company.

All requirements for a volunteer patron to travel are approved by the Trust in advance.  Officials from RCÉ do not travel with greyhounds being transported abroad.

The care and wellbeing of all greyhounds is of the greatest importance to m