Greyhound Racing Ireland (lost withheld footage of greyhound falls during races; 2018-present)
Greyhound Racing Ireland (previously Bord na gCon/Irish Greyhound Board) is a state-owned organisation that promotes and controls greyhound racing across the Republic of Ireland. Since its inception in 1958, it licences greyhound races across 14 tracks, and uploads races to its website and YouTube channel. However, it has come under scrutiny for withholding race footage involving incidents where one or multiple greyhounds have suffered falls and sustained injuries in the process.
Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) was originally formed in 1958 by the Irish Government as part of the Greyhound Industry Act (1958), which enabled the organisation the power to fully regulate greyhound racing within the Republic of Ireland. Receiving €280 million in government funding from 2002 to 2020, the company has expanded to licence racing across 14 different Irish tracks, with it owning and controlling nine of them. Greyhound racing remains semi-popular within the country, with GRI's tracks accumulating €23 million in revenue from race betting in 2019 alone, with 12,000 greyhounds being bred for the sport in the country in 2020.
Nevertheless, betting and viewing figures have been declining since 2010, primarily as the sport and GRI have been subject to significant scrutiny and backlash from anti-greyhound racing campaigners like Ban Blood Sports. Among criticisms include the poor treatment of greyhounds, with 6,000 having been killed annually. Additionally, Preferred Results produced a business analysis report that indicated the reason behind the deaths were that the dogs were not fast enough to win races, including having “failed to produce qualifying times,” a “failure to produce desired entry-level times,” and an “unacceptable decline in performance.” It was also found that the industry was over-breeding puppies, 1000% more than it needed, which led to an annual cull. Even successful dogs were found to have been mistreated, with one testing positive for cocaine. Despite an attempted cover-up by GRI, an RTE documentary on Preferred Results' findings prompted backlash against greyhound racing, with attendance for races having dropped by a fifth since the report aired, and by 55% between 2008 to 2018. Such criticism has also led to campaigns for state funding of greyhound racing to cease. An attempt was even made by the Social Democrat Party in 2020 to withdraw government funding of the sport, although the motion was dismissed in the first round of voting.
Further backlash against GRI came from campaigners, who have accused it of withholding race footage from its website, dating back to at least 2018. According to Ban Blood Sports (BBS) articles, the withheld footage primarily showcases instances of greyhounds falling during the events, with some having failed to finish the race due to injuries being inflicted on them. By March 2020, BBS identified at least 20 such incidents, with a further six being detailed by 1st January 2022. For example, during Race 1 at Enniscorthy Track on 21st December 2018, greyhound Gortin Shift was knocked down at the first bend, and could not finish the event, having not raced since. Meanwhile, three races at Shelbourne Park held on 21st December 2019 were withheld from public viewing. This included Spots Trend, Knight Rocker and Boyhero all falling in Race 9, two falling in Race 10, and Knocknarea Run being unable to finish Race 8 after allegedly picking up an injury.
On 26th November 2019, Teachta Dála politician Maureen O'Sullivan asked Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, on whether he was aware of withheld footage of greyhounds falling and suffering injuries during GRI-sanctioned races, and if he would instruct GRI to publish them. In response, Creed stated his Department was unable to make publishing of footage mandatory, as GRI lacks any legislative requirement to make all racing footage it records publicly available on its website or any other platforms.
GRI also responded stating that injuries at its stadiums are rare and that appropriate care will be given to any dogs that do suffer them. Therefore, unless GRI becomes legally required to upload all races it sanctions, it is highly unlikely the videos will publicly resurface. However, the possibility of a fan recording the races in attendance remains, especially as GRI broadcasts all races at its stadiums live.
- Greyhound Racing Ireland detailing itself and its history. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Michael Creed responding to Maureen O'Sullivan's query over withheld footage. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Irish Examiner reporting on decline in greyhound racing following the RTE documentary. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Ban Blood Sports detailing withheld footage from 2018-2020. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Irish Examiner reporting on betting figures in 2019. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Stand detailing Preferred Results' findings and the 2020 breeding figures. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Ban Blood Sports listing withheld footage in 2021. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- BBC Sport reporting on a winning Irish greyhound testing positive for cocaine. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- The Irish Times reporting on declining attendance figures since RTE's report aired. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Agriland reporting on the Social Democrat Party motion to withdraw government funding of greyhound racing being dismissed. Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Ban Blood Sports detailing withheld races in 2019, including three at Shelbourne Park held on 21st December 2019 Retrieved 28 Apr '22
- Greyhound Racing Ireland listing results for the races at Shelbourne Park held on 21st December 2019. Note that races 8, 9, and 10 have no accessible video. Retrieved 28 Apr '22