Aaron Rogan

March 8 2019, 12:01am,

The Times

A “breakaway splinter group” of greyhound owners has been granted the power to nominate people to the Seanad, a senator has claimed.

The Seanad returning officer, Martin Groves, told the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation on Monday that he had accepted a request to change the contact person and address for the body.

Three of the federation’s officials have alleged that this has granted a “splinter group” the authority to nominate senators for election. The federation is one of a number of trade bodies that can nominate candidates for the Seanad. Vocational panels then vote on the candidates.

Gus Ryan, Tony Walsh and Dave Cunningham conceded that a recent meeting of the federation resulted in a split in the body but insisted that they had maintained control of its board along with some other members.

However, a separate board led by others involved in greyhound racing has told Mr Groves that they should be the contact for the federation.

Brian Ó Domhnaill, an independent senator nominated by the federation, has written to Mr Groves and questioned his decision. He said that the newly formed board was not representative of the federation’s members and that the details on the Seanad register should not be changed.

Irish greyhound racing has faced criticism over its governance, doping controls and animal welfare sanctions in recent years.

Mr Groves acknowledged in a letter on Monday that there were two separate entities presenting themselves as the federation in the annual review of nominating bodies.

He said that the evidence that had been submitted to him “strongly supports the proposition” that the breakaway board was elected in accordance with the constitution of the federation.

But in his letter, Mr Ó Domhnaill called the decision “puzzling”. He said that the decision “comes at a time when the body, on behalf of all owners and breeders, is raising highly valid queries and questions, in the public interest pertaining to the greyhound industry”.

Speaking to The Times yesterday, Mr Ó Domhnaill said it appeared that the Seanad was endorsing one side in an internal dispute and called the decision “very peculiar”.

“It has given a breakaway splinter group nominating rights for the Seanad,” he said.

Mr Groves responded to Mr Ó Domhnaill yesterday and said that the annual revision of nominating bodies takes place within a statutory framework which he had abided by.

“Elements of that process are still ongoing, and as such it would not be appropriate for me to engage in correspondence with a third party at this time,” Mr Groves wrote.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I would emphasise that within the context of my statutory function it is not possible for me to accept new information or submissions, or to revise any decision that I have made, in the context of this year’s annual revision.”