Monday 11 December 2017

Greyhound industry down €500,000 over stadium sale row

Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Cormac McQuinn and Katherine Donnelly

The row over the closure of Harold's Cross Stadium has cost the industry more than €500,000 in the past 10 weeks and is jeopardising the future of greyhound racing in Ireland, it has been warned.

Bord na gCon, the commercial semi-State body which controls the industry, has lost about €300,000 because of pickets that have stopped racing at its sister Dublin track Shelbourne Park, while owners are down about €250,000 in prize money.

The sale of Harold's Cross Stadium was triggered by debts of more than €20m, but it provoked protest pickets at Shelbourne Park.

It was announced this week that the Department of Education has bought the stadium with a view to building badly needed primary and post-primary schools on the site.

The transaction has to go through normal protocols for the sale of assets between State agencies and, ultimately, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has to sign off on it.

A Department of Agriculture spokesperson said he would consider the proposal for the sale of the stadium when it is submitted to him.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has had preliminary discussions with Dublin City Council about the rezoning of the site.

In a statement last night, Bord na gCon said that the sale of Harold's Cross was "absolutely essential in order to reduce the enormous legacy debt that threatens the national greyhound industry".

The board said that the debt had to be addressed now, and ruled out partial sale, that has been suggested in some quarters, as "a half measure".

It warned that "unless racing is resumed and the debt is reduced now, jobs and the national industry are at risk".

A meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today will discuss the accounts of Bord na gCon and will hear from board chairman Phil Meaney.

PAC chairman Sean Fleming said it wanted to hear what measures the board had taken to ensure future sustainability.

Irish Independent

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