I join colleagues in sending our best wishes to Deputies Kelleher, Fitzgerald, Clare Daly and Wallace. All four made a distinguished contribution to this House. Our technical group in particular will miss the contributions of Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, in particular, during the remaining period of this Dáil.
I wish to briefly ask the Tánaiste about a matter that was raised earlier. He was Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for five years. We are a nation of animal lovers. Most people throughout the country were disgusted by what they saw on the “Prime Time Investigates” programme last night which seemed to indicate a major wanton slaughter of greyhounds, numbering up to 6,000, year in year out, simply because they were not fast enough. Also, there is the issue of the licensing of knackeries as the conditions in them seem appalling. What actions will the Tánaiste and the Minister responsible take in response to the reporting of these matters? Many people throughout the country are outraged and want urgent action taken. We have the new Act and I have the Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill on the clár, which deals with the export of greyhounds. We seem to have been told a pack of lies about such exports. Greyhounds are being exported to countries with deplorable animal welfare conditions and nothing is being done about it. Given that the Tánaiste held that portfolio for a long time, what will he and the Minister, Deputy Creed, do about this matter?
The Minister, Deputy Creed, is also here. We spoke about this issue this morning before Leaders’ Questions. We will act on the basis of the evidence that was put forward in a very helpful but very graphic way from what I have been told about the programme last night. It is not acceptable that greyhounds that are to be put down because of injury or whatever other reason are not put down in an appropriate manner with the supervision of a vet. The days of sending a dog to the knackery or to the abattoir are long since over or they should be. Illegal activity will be pursued. We have the animal welfare legislation in place and new legislation for the greyhound industry to be able to ensure we have a proper transparent system that tracks where dogs are, who owns them, where they travel to, to whom they are sold and so on. If there is over-breeding within this sector, which I suspect perhaps there is, that is also something the Government needs to look at from a policy perspective. This is a sector the State significantly supports financially. It is an important one. It needs to be supported but it also needs to stamp illegal activity or animal welfare concerns, which were outlined last night.