Friday 23 August 2019

Irish Greyhound Board ends partnership with Rose of Tralee after 'malicious online threats' received by contestants

File picture showing contestants in the 2014 International Rose Selection at the launch of that year’s Rose of Tralee Festival (Brian Lawless/PA)
File picture showing contestants in the 2014 International Rose Selection at the launch of that year’s Rose of Tralee Festival (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has confirmed it is ending its long-term relationship with the Rose of Tralee after organisers and participants of the festival received online threats.

The IGB said in a statement it will end its sponsorship of the event amid the online abuse, which has arisen following the recent RTÉ Investigates probe into the industry.

The statement, on behalf of the IGB and the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium, where promotional shoots are usually taken prior to the event, says that the usual sponsors regret their decision.

“The decision was taken following much engagement and consultation with festival organisers,” it says.

“Many festival ambassadors, including the Roses themselves, have been the subject of malicious online threats in recent weeks which the Rose of Tralee Festival and the IGB find totally unacceptable. The IGB respects the right to protest but this must be done in a peaceful manner, including in online fora and on social media.

“The IGB and Kingdom Greyhound Stadium regret this decision and wish the Rose of Tralee and all associated with the event the very best of luck with this year's festival.”

The online abuse comes as protesters have called for a boycott of all sponsors and a stop to greyhound racing in Ireland since the RTE programme aired.

A number of sponsors have already ended their relationship with the group, including Barry’s Tea and FBD Insurance.

A government review is set to examine funding for the IGB, which currently receives  €16 million in State support every year.

Sports Minister Shane Ross has called for resignations within the greyhound board, which has promised to reform the industry.

Mr Ross said that the board was guilty of not acting earlier to ensure the safety of the animals involved.

Since the RTE investigation was aired, the greyhound board set up a confidential phone line where animal welfare concerns can be reported.

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