Government prioritising horse and dog racing over ill children
Letter to the Editor, Irish Independent, Monday 27 March 2017
We have heard a lot lately about the heart-breaking plight of families battling the Government to secure funding for life-saving cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.
Distribution of the drug is delayed due to an annual cost of around €80m. This, coincidentally, is the exact amount paid out by the Government this year to horse and greyhound racing, bringing the total handed over in the past 15 years to more than €1bn.
As revealed recently in the Dáil, a significant portion of the horse racing grant goes into prize money for “very rich owners and trainers”, while the €16m for dog racing is propping up a cruel and collapsing industry which the public is overwhelmingly rejecting – evident in a 50pc drop in track attendance and a 58pc fall in sponsorship.
Claims that the industry deserves cash injections because of related jobs are being increasingly challenged, with one politician saying the employment figures are “such an over-estimate, it’s almost laughable”.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has declared that “the greyhound industry employs over 10,300 people” but this month, it emerged that in the Irish Greyhound Board, there is only 128 full-time staff.
In December, as cystic fibrosis patients waited, Health Minister Simon Harris was among the 105 TDs who approved the latest massive racing grants, prompting a distraught parent to ask if dog and horse races are more important than suffering children.
How obscene that politicians enthusiastically squander scarce public money on rotten racing industries, but when it comes to providing vital medication there is suddenly a focus on cost-effectiveness and getting value for taxpayers.
Irish Council Against Blood Sports