Release The Hounds

An agreement has been made between the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) and the Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association (DGOBA) to allow racing to recommence at Shelbourne Park.

The DGOBA had been protesting at the gates of Shelbourne Park since February, against the IGBs decision to close and sell off the Harold’s Cross greyhound track in order to reduce its large debts. The offer from IGB to give the Harold’s Cross crowd two nights at the Shelbourne track, which would include the racing of that grade of dogs only, has been put to the DGOBA since their picketing began and they had refused it. But as of June 14th, when both sides got together in Crumlin, DGOBA Chairman James O’Hanlon and the rest of the committee abstained from casting a vote and allowed only the members to vote. The resulting vote was 45 to 40 in favour of the two nights at Shelbourne.
NewsFour asked O’Hanlon about what had changed in the offer of the two nights that the DGOBA had refused for so long? He replied: “They offered us a 50% increase in prize money for eight weeks, the Dublin Cup went from €5000 to €10000 and we got the stakes increased from €750 to €3000 for the first twelve months.”

Now that the pickets have gone from Shelbourne Park, and the Harold’s Cross fixtures transferred as of June 20th, NewsFour asked O’Hanlon if it had been a smooth change over. “Anything but,” said O’Hanlon. “John O’Sullivan from Dublin Coach laid on a bus free of charge with free entry if you arrived at Harold’s Cross, Tuesday or Friday, at a quarter past seven for him to drive you to and from Shelbourne Park, and nobody appeared. Fourteen people on the first night, including me for support, but since then nobody, they won’t travel down even though they are getting in for free. It takes three-quarters of an hour to get there and same on the way back, it’s time consuming.”

IGB refused to give out an estimate of the amount of revenue lost at Shelbourne Park while the boycott was in place as they consider it to be of a commercial nature and according to new IGB CEO, Dr. Sean Brady, a “bright future free from crippling debt is within sight for our industry. For the first time in years, we can consider increasing prize money, investing in more marketing and upgrading our stadiums. The IGB are to hold a National Greyhound Forum this month to seek feedback and engagement as to how this industry can move forward together.”

by Paul Carton