The discovery of greyhound remains in a makeshift grave in Co Limerick highlights again the dark side of an industry that Junior Minister Shane McEntee recently lauded as one we should all be proud of. Once a greyhound has outlived its value on the track or coursing field, it faces danger. Unless the owner happens to be genuinely fond of dogs, the animal is likely to come to a nasty end.
Among those selected for death, the lucky ones will be taken to a vet or shot. Others are likely to end their brief sporting careers in a more grisly fashion, bludgeoned to death with a spade or shovel: a sad fate for an animal that has given such loyal service to the (presumably ungrateful?) gambling community.
Ear-tagging of greyhounds was supposed to eliminate this ill-treatment, but the ID tags can easily be hacked off the bodies.
Bord na gCon has said it will do everything in its power to clamp down on this kind of activity. It should go further. Ear-tagging should be replaced as an ID method by micro-chipping to prevent tag removal, and a major initiative against doping of greyhounds is long overdue. This is widespread in the industry, with little regard as to the effects on the dogs' health of the performance-enhancing drugs utilised by unscrupulous trainers.
The Board also needs to face up to the fact that live hare coursing is no longer acceptable to the vast majority of people in Ireland. It casts a pall of shame over the entire industry.
The hares are terrorised, battered and mauled. Many of them literally die of fright when being netted or during captivity, owing to a stress-related condition called Capture Myopathy. FOI reports obtained from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) show that hares suffer appalling injuries and ill-treatment at virtually every coursing event. How can we expect an industry that encompasses and condones such a practice to care about the fate of unwanted dogs?
Saudis' Olympic stance is amoral
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Eamonn Sweeney's fine piece from last Sunday titled 'Saudis claim Gold for Sexism'. Once again, Eamonn has provided an insightful, interesting and thought-provoking article, this time on Saudi Arabia's take on females in sport in advance of the London Olympics. Such overt and direct sexism in the 21st Century is simply downright wrong and amoral. While we may not be renowned for our fiscal acumen, surely we as an often oppressed country should make more of a stand on this issue where we might regain some integrity on the world stage -- TDs please take note.
Secondly, I would like to express my continued frustration with Páidí ó Sé's 'Kerry-centric' column. No doubt Kerry's pre-eminence in Gaelic football is well merited, yet I would guess their coveted collection of All-Ireland titles would be diminished somewhat if not for the decided advantage they had playing in Munster over the years.
I would like to remind Páidí that there are 32 counties in Ireland (34 including our diaspora friends) and that the Gaelic football world does not begin and end with the Kingdom and the ó Sé family. Granted, his three nephews have been/are integral to Kerry's recent success but there are approximately 1,000 county players in total -- it would be great to hear about other players from other counties.
To show some objectivity, I believe Tomás ó Sé has been the 'player of the last decade'. For me, Páidí's columns are more fitting in The Kerryman than a national paper. May I also remind him, whether they were the team of the previous decade or not, there is a new force emerging 'up north' in Tyrone -- we haven't gone away you know.
O'Rourke needs to break his silence
Has the Sunday Independent gagged your Gaelic football columnist Colm O'Rourke from reporting on Meath football?
In recent weeks, Colm O'Rourke has presented interesting articles on a variety of subjects such as payment to managers, player indiscipline, suspensions and bans, with last week's article dedicated to how and what the Dubs need to do to get back to the lofty heights they achieved last year.
My question simply is why has he chosen not to write anything about the current state of Meath football, culminating last weekend with their relegation into Division 3? Oh how the mighty have fallen yet nothing is heard from him on Meath's plight which seems strange indeed. While not always agreeing with his point of view -- I am a Kildare native -- most football supporters look forward to reading his articles. Come on Colm, your readers and county need to hear from you.
Sunday Indo Sport