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.
In amendment No. 5, we seek to insert in page 25, between lines 13 and 14, under the heading “List of countries to which export is permissible”, a provision to the effect that the Minister would prescribe from January 2020, by regulation, a list of non-EU countries which meet minimum standards with regard to the welfare of greyhounds and that the Minister would take into account the past record of the relevant country relating to the welfare of greyhounds, the welfare of animals in that country generally, the existence in the relevant country of enforceable welfare protections, the monitoring and enforcement in the relevant country and the standards of care and management in the country.
This week, my staff attended briefings by AsIAm, the Passport Service and Alcohol Action Ireland on my behalf. AsIAm published a report with survey results about access to school places for children with autism. The findings were very shocking and should be a wakeup call for the Government. Alcohol Action Ireland was speaking about the ‘Silent Voices’ report which highlights the impact of parental alcohol misuse on children.
I am delighted to be able to contribute briefly on the Greyhound Racing Bill 2018. This Bill has been a long time coming before us. As other Deputies said, in 2014 we had the Indecon report which highlighted many severe deficiencies within the industry, in 2015 we had the report by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine and in July 2016 we had the Morris review of anti-doping and medication in Ireland commissioned by Bord na gCon. All three reports, sadly, found major issues with governance and regulation in dog racing.
The Minister and Minister of State are hoping to introduce the greyhound industry (amendment) Bill shortly. It has undergone pre-legislative scrutiny and so forth, but there are rumours within the animal welfare community, including among the ISPCA, Dogs Trust and other organisations, that there will not be a white list of countries with low welfare standards to which the export of greyhounds will be forbidden.
Today during Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Tommy Broughan again asked for the welfare of greyhounds being exported to be further regulated and improved. It is just over a year since Deputy Broughan introduced the Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill 2017, which was to provide for a white list of countries to which the export of greyhounds under licence would be permissible. It would also make it an offence for persons to export greyhounds to countries not on the white list.
Some months ago, his colleague, the Minister, Deputy Creed, told me that three greyhounds were exported to Argentina in 2013, 33 in 2014, 3 in 2015 and 7 in 2016, even though greyhound racing has ceased in Argentina. He also said that no greyhounds are exported direct from Ireland to Pakistan during 2016. There are persistent rumours that those exports are taking place. Previously, the Minister mentioned the EU TRACES system which covers the export of animals throughout the European Union. Nevertheless, rumours persist that there are significant exports to Pakistan, where the animal welfare regime is deplorable.
Will the Minister be adopting the Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill, a Bill which I myself sponsored, and including it in the Government’s legislation?