14 May 2018

Meeting between IGOBF and CEO of Irish Greyhound Board

IGB- Ger Dollard, Mike Murnane & Mairead Cullen

IGOBF- Bill Murphy, Dave Cunningham, Tony Walsh & Paul Dillon

 

The IGOBF thanked Mr Dollard for meeting with us and also complimented the CEO on the production of the 5 year strategic plan. There was discussion on the plan and we were particularly concerned that while the Plan was a good read, it did not reflect what was happening on the ground.

 

The IGOBF accepts that the financial crisis contributed to the decline of the greyhound industry in period 2008-12. However the continued decline in the industry does not reflect the recovery of the economy. The IGB will struggle to rectify the decline of the industry until they first identify the causes.

These CSO figures clearly demonstrate that the Irish Economy has been on the recovery since 2013.

Horse Racing Ireland Tote is largely following the trend of employment and disposable income but IGB tote continues to slide. It is now almost 12 months since Harolds Cross was sold, The Chairman of IGB says we are debt free so now we can expect the industry to flourish.

Once again the reality on the ground is different, attendance continues to fall and greyhound numbers continue to shrink.

The problems of the greyhound industry come down to two basic issues.

  1. Total breakdown in regulation. The IGB is a lawless organisation that is incapable of producing a racing product with a standard of integrity that todays consumers demand. The 5 year plan hits all the buzz words regarding integrity but the reality on the ground is totally different. The IGOBF gave Mr Dollard multiple examples of breaches of regulations. It was disappointing that the CEO was unaware of the number of dogs finding in excess of 1 second from qualifying to racing and particularly at Limerick track just down the hall from his office. The IGB constantly point to the new greyhound bill as if it is going to be a silver bullet. IGB might do well to apply the existing rules before they start looking for new ones. …………………………………………………
  2. Welfare. The IGOBF tried to impress upon the CEO that what was acceptable 5,10, 20 years ago is no longer acceptable when it comes to greyhound welfare. We have far too many injuries at our tracks and IGB’s attempts to cover-up are simply juvenile. YouTube is full of footage of dogs getting hurt at Irish tracks. The CEO was asked what he had done to improve greyhound welfare since he was appointed. His answer was very weak. The IGB need to be at the forefront on matters of welfare and not just reacting to crisis as they happen.

Historically greyhound breeding, rearing, training etc were commercial enterprises that generated profit to supplement the income of participants. The mismanagement of the industry by the IGB has changed all that with owners, breeders, stud keepers etc all feeling the squeeze. There appears to be a narrative developing within IGB that greyhound owners need to put their own money into the industry if they want to be involved.

The Chairman of the IGB states in the recently published Strategic Plan that

“Today, owning and racing greyhounds is a pastime”

Page 16 of the Strategic Plan states

“It is recognised that significant costs arise in breeding, rearing and training a greyhound and while a break-even situation may not be achieved, the enjoyment derived from involvement in the sport is a strong consideration for all involved.”

The Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation does not accept this narrative and we strongly believe that the industry is capable of making a profitable return for all participants. This can only be achieved by adapting an uncompromising attitude to breaches of integrity coupled with genuine application of the highest standards of greyhound welfare.

The IGB has enjoyed unfaltering support from politicians who have refused to demand accountability. The monthly handover of €1.2 million of tax payers money has fostered an unhealthy level of arrogance and laziness in the organisation. Limerick stadium is a case in point, the €20 million euro restaurant is virtually empty every weekend while every restaurant in the city is booked out. And nobody cares, or a least nobody in a position to do anything cares.

Our meeting lasted about one hour. It could only be described as a disappointing meeting. We left unconvinced that we had witnessed enough ambition or courage to make the decisions needed to turn the industry around.

 

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. – J Robert Oppenheimer.