Saturday 25 October 2014

Four-part plan to safeguard our industry

Geraldine Larkin

Published 13/08/2014 | 02:30

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

I came into the industry at a really exciting stage, virtually at the same time as the Indecon Report was published, so formulating a reply to that report has become my immediate priority, and we have three months to do that.

Longer term, my job is to ensure the sustainability of the greyhound industry. How do we make sure we have an industry in ten years? It is a myriad of a structure and we have to review all the pieces of the jigsaw and get them working together.

Obviously I am not going to indicate at this stage the details of how we are going to respond.

There are four areas which must be addressed - regulation, finance, governance and welfare - and we are looking at all areas.

Coming from a regulatory background, it is important to me that there are clear rules and that there enforcement of these rules.

We are getting a very significant Government grant each year and we must have clear governance of how we spend that money and ensure that we are getting maximum return on taxpayers' money.

Another challenge is how we can support the smaller owners and also the big commercial concerns at the same time. Yet another clear task is to obtain new markets and attract new people to our industry.

I will be working with the board and staff to drive the industry forward but there is no magic solution. It is a complex industry and we have to address the issues one by one so as to reassemble it all for the future.

What has struck me most is the passion and sheer commitment which exists among all those involved.

The most worrying issue I have encountered is meeting people who have been to the tracks and have stopped going. For that reason it is important that we restore confidence in racing.

I will be talking to every sector as I am a firm believer in the idea that criticism is fine once it comes with viable alternative solutions.

We need the support of all sides to get this industry going. So we must make sure we are all working together.

I will listen to all relevant contributions on how to get from A to B. I might not always agree with the alternatives but will give all alternatives due consideration.

Being relatively new to the sport, when I attend the tracks I spend most of the time meeting the various people there. It is a wonderful way for me to meet the people. But I am enjoying the sport and I often find myself dropping in to Limerick Track for a few races after work. I am being drawn there.

The bottom line is that greyhound racing has a lot to offer. It is a great family night out and needs to be promoted as such.

The job is hugely exciting and challenging and I am looking forward to getting to grips with the very many facets of the industry.

Geraldine Larkin lives in Limerick and is the new CEO of the Irish Greyhound Board, having previously been CEO of the Private Security Authority.

Irish Independent

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