Irish taxpayers funding foxhunt events

1 Dec

taxpayers funding foxhunt events

Two weeks after claiming that foxhunters don’t get any money from his Department, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has admitted that hunts are this year benefiting by over 2 MILLION EURO in funding from Horse Racing Ireland – a body financed by his Department. The hunts are using the massive handouts of taxpayers’ cash to run point-to-point race meetings and as prize money for races.

After the Irish Council Against Blood Sports highlighted last month that the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association was stating on its website that the Department of Agriculture was one of its “Partners”, TDs Clare Daly and Tommy Broughan questioned Minister Creed about this partnership.

In reply to their 14th November questions, Minister Creed said: “My Department does not provide any financial support to the organisation in question. Nor does my Department have any partnership arrangement with the organisation.”

However, in a follow-up Dail Question answered yesterday, 30 November, Minister Creed confirmed that foxhunts are indeed benefiting from money paid out by the Department of Agriculture.

The hunts are receiving the payouts from Horse Racing Ireland which gets millions every year from the Department of Agriculture. Since 2001, HRI has been given €894 million of taxpayers’ money, including €64 million for this year. And Minister Creed is poised to hand over an additional €64 million for 2018.

In his reply to Clare Daly TD, the Minister outlined the true extent of funding making its way into the hands of hunts for their point-to-point races.

“Horse Racing Ireland provides funding annually to point to point racing of circa €2.1 million which comprises grants to hunt clubs to assist with the cost of staging these meetings (€678,000), grants for prize money at Point to Points (€688,000) and grants to the INHS [Irish National Hunt Steeplechase] Committee of the Turf Club to cover the regulation of Point to Points (€714,000),” Minister Creed stated.

Asked about “his views on the fact that public funds are channelled to hunt clubs via Horse Racing Ireland to meet the cost of providing doctors at each point to point – a cost which was previously borne by point to point organisers”, Minister Creed replied: “From 2017, the funding provided to the Turf Club / INHS Committee for Point to Points includes the cost of providing one suitably qualified medical officer at every Point to Point. This is to ensure that the appropriate level of care and attention is available for riders in the event of injury.”

On the Horse Racing Ireland website, fox hunts are invited to apply for “Point-to-Point Grant Payments” – “In order for a hunt to receive payment, they must follow the conditions/requirements and complete the grant application form.” Earlier this year, Horse Racing Ireland announced details of a major funding increase for point to points. “Recognising the difficulties faced by the handlers and hunt clubs, we have significantly increased our allocation to the point-to-point sector in further support of the grassroots of the industry,” HRI said in a statement. “In conjunction with the INHS Committee, there will be a significant increase in funding for point-to-point racing of €728,000 giving a total allocation of €2.2 million including integrity costs of €745,000. Grants for hunts staging point-to-points will increase by €2,000 to €6,500 per meeting and minimum prize-money for races other than four-year-old and five-year-old maidens will increase from €800 to €1,200 per race.”

It is an absolute outrage that the government is channelling scarce public funds into the hands of hunters, and entirely galling that while sick and infirm citizens are languishing on waiting lists for vital treatment, these hunts have the exclusive benefit of paid-for doctors at their races. These racing events are a major fundraiser for foxhunting. The money from the Department of Agriculture/Horse Racing Ireland is effectively propping up many hunts and supporting what is one of the country’s worst forms of cruelty to animals. In foxhunting, foxes are pursued by a pack of hounds and chased to exhaustion. When caught, the foxes are knocked to the ground, bitten, disembowelled and pulled apart. Foxes who try to find refuge underground are pursued by hunt terriers, dug out of the ground and thrown to the pack of hounds. See video at http://banbloodsports.com/camp-fh.htm

Instead of giving financial support to foxhunts, the government should be outlawing this shameful activity.

ACTION ALERT

Politicians are poised to hand over another €64 million in funding to Horse Racing Ireland and €16 million to the Irish Greyhound Board for 2018. This month, TDs will have an opportunity to vote on the payment of this latest grant via the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2017. It is vital that you contact your local TDs and demand that they vote against this outrageous funding.

Find TD names and contact details at http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=mem

Contact Minister Michael Creed and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and demand an end to the funding and an immediate ban on foxhunting.

Telephone: +353 (0)1-6072000 (Michael Creed)
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020 (Leo Varadkar)
Email: michael.creed@oir.ie, taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie, simon.coveney@oireachtas.ie
Tweet to: @creedcnw @campaignforLeo
Leave a comment on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/michael.creed.779
https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/

Dail Questions – Answered on 30 November, 2017

QUESTION 178: To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine further to parliamentary question numbers 354 and 359 of 14 November 2017, his views on the fact that public funds are channelled to hunt clubs via Horse Racing Ireland’s point to point grants in view of the fact that Horse Racing Ireland receives public funding through the Horse and Greyhound fund administered by his department. – Clare Daly T.D.

QUESTION 179: To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine his views on the fact that public funds are channelled to hunt clubs via Horse Racing Ireland to meet the cost of providing doctors at each point to point a cost which was previously borne by point to point organisers. – Clare Daly T.D.

REPLY

Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Michael Creed: Horse Racing Ireland is a commercial state body responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry. The Point to Point sector is the backbone of national hunt racing in Ireland and acts as a nursery for the development of horses, riders and trainers.

Approximately 115 Point to Points are staged annually throughout the island of Ireland and these are organised and run by hunt clubs. They are community based events with much voluntary input going into the staging of the meetings. While they have less formality than on track racing, Point to Points are highly competitive and serve as an important shop window for trade in national hunt horses. In particular they are a strong source of equine exports to Great Britain.

Horse Racing Ireland provides funding annually to Point to Point racing of circa €2.1m which comprises grants to Hunt Clubs to assist with the cost of staging these meetings (€678k), grants for prize money at Point to Points (€688k) and grants to the INHS Committee of the Turf Club to cover the regulation of Point to Points (€714k).

The recently published Deloitte Report estimated the expenditure associated with Point to Points at circa €37m per annum and that during the 2015 / 2016 racing season in Ireland and Britain, 1,127 races were won by graduates of the Irish Point to Point sector.

From 2017, the funding provided to the Turf Club / INHS Committee for Point to Points includes the cost of providing one suitably qualified medical officer at every Point to Point. This is to ensure that the appropriate level of care and attention is available for riders in the event of injury.

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