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‘Grossly inaccurate’ – greyhound racing industry hits out at schoolbook's representation of sport

Folens, the publisher of the book, has described the language used in the section as ‘measured and considered’


File photo

File photo

File photo

THE greyhound racing industry has called for changes to be made to a secondary-school workbook which, it says, contains a passage that is a “grossly inaccurate” representation of the sport.

Representatives of the Irish greyhound industry have raised their concerns with the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.

Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) and the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation (IGOBF) have also written to Folens, the publishers of the CSPE book Make a Difference, to request the removal of a section of text entitled “Going to the Dogs”.

Folens defended the section and described the language used as “measured and considered”, while the Department said it “does not have a role in approving, commissioning, sponsoring or endorsing any content in any educational textbook”.

The greyhound industry representatives say the text raises a series of “problems” in relation to greyhound racing, which do not reflect the reality within the sport.

The text encourages students to “write an email or a letter to the ministers of agriculture and sport, suggesting some actions the Irish government can take to protect the welfare of greyhounds in Ireland”.

Frank Nyhan, Chairman of GRI, said the inclusion of the text in a junior cycle book is “totally unacceptable and is extremely concerning as it completely misrepresents the sport of greyhound racing”.

He added: “The dissemination of such material to young adults forming part of the next generation is very worrying.

“The grossly inaccurate presentation of a sport with which many students are likely to have little knowledge or contact at that stage of their lives can only contribute to the forming of views which have no basis in reality.

"This is an extremely serious matter. It entirely misrepresents the sport and industry at an important formative time for these students.”

Gerard Dollard, chief executive officer of GRI, said: “The publication presents an incomplete and misleading portrayal of the sport of greyhound racing and makes no reference to the multitude of care and welfare initiatives progressed by GRI during the past two years, including the provision of care and foster care centres, the introduction of an expanded inspection programme for greyhound establishments, the operation of a Greyhound Injuries Support Scheme, and the commissioning of the Rásaíocht Con Éireann Traceability System.”

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Damian Matthews, Chairman of the IGOBF, said his members are “abhorred” by the publication which, he says, seeks to “marginalise the greyhound racing community”.

“It is an attempt at social exclusion,” he added. “We totally oppose this material being published or any similar material being taught in schools which use propaganda to socially exclude the greyhound community from society.”

Mr Matthews wrote to the Department of Education stating the industry was displeased with the text.

However, Greyhound Racing Ireland and the IGOBF have expressed disappointment with the response from the Department of Education and have repeated their calls for the Department to intervene.

Greyhound racing industry representatives released the Department of Education’s statement, which read: “The NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) Curriculum specification for Junior Cycle CSPE does not include any reference to or mention of greyhounds, dogs or greyhound racing. The majority of textbooks are commissioned and published by educational publishers, and schools have the freedom to select their books from those available from a number of different publishers.

“However, the content of any individual textbook is determined by the publisher themselves, and therefore any queries regarding specific content in any particular textbook should be directed to the publisher.”

In a statement, Folens said: “The authors of Make a Difference are highly experienced educators and authors, who have been teaching CSPE for many years. The language they used in the section on greyhound racing is both measured and considered.

“The authors conducted widespread research when putting together the content of the book, including the ‘RTÉ Investigates: Running for their Lives’ – an investigative documentary on issues relating to greyhound racing and the greyhound industry. 

“We are aware of the concerns raised by the greyhound industry in relation to the activity “Going to the Dogs”. We are happy to engage with Greyhound Racing Ireland and we are prepared to make suitable examples of good greyhound welfare practices as part of the digital resources available to teachers and students.”

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