This article was published in the print edition on Sunday 28th July 2019.

Aaron Rogan   News Correspondent  @aarrogan

The chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has been accused of interfering with an independent breeders body in an effort to silence whistle-blowers raising concerns about doping and animal welfare.
The Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation (IGOBF) claim that a breakaway group was formed in order to remove the voice of members who had criticised the IGB.

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A statement from the chairman of the original IGOBF, Tony Walsh, last week said that the body had always been a voice for breeders and it was entitled to raise its concern about the decline of the sport.

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“Rather than deal with the problems of the industry highlighted by the recognised IGOBF, the IGB “encouraged” the formation of a sham IGOBF that would give unquestioned support to the IGB,” the statement said.

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The breakaway group claimed the IGOBF name late last year after an EGM which did not include Walsh and other committee members. The IGB then said that it would only deal with the breakaway group.
Emails, text messages and a post on an online forum, seen by The Sunday Business Post, show that head of the breakaway group Helen Morris contacted other breeders on behalf of Ger Dollard to organise meetings before the EGM.

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When asked about the contact between Dollard and Morris, an IGB spokesman said: “The representative organisation for greyhound owners and breeders is entirely a matter for greyhound owners and breeders. The IGB has no function, nor does it seek to have such a function. Since the emergence of two groups, the IGB has issued an invitation to both groups to attend all meetings of the National Greyhound Consultative Forum and will maintain these invitations pending the Federation resolving its internal affairs.”
The spokesman declined to answer further questions.

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Details of a meeting in April published in a trade newspaper show that the IGB said it will only work with this breakaway IGOBF and wants them to be involved in improving the image of the sport.
The IGB is under increasing pressure over its image. A number of sponsors ended their relationships with the board after RTÉ Investigates revealed details of a secret report which showed up to 6,000 greyhounds are being killed each year because they are not fast enough.
Independent senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, who is nominated to the Seanad by the IGOBF, said he believed that the IGB encouraged the breakaway group as the committee had been increasingly vocal about failings in the sport.
The IGOBF is one of a number of trade bodies that can nominate candidates for the Seanad, leading to an investigation by the Oireachtas into which group should be recognised.
Oireachtas officials ruled two weeks ago that the power of nominating senators should remain with the original group.