From top: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe (centre) at Liam Cosgrave’s funeral last Saturday, Dr Rory Hearne
Tomorrow, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will deliver Budget 2018.
Further to this…
Dr Rory Hearne writes:
In tomorrow’s Budget you will hear talk about ‘what the budget means for you’ and ‘how much will you get back in your pocket’.
You might hear or see the news headlines about how various groups are getting a few euro ‘back’.
You will also hear the big tax accountancy firms (who make massive incomes from advising the rich and corporations on our current tax system) like PricewaterhouseCoopers, provide the Budget analysis and they will state that the Government was confined in what it could do and had little room for manoeuvre given the EU fiscal rules.
But you won’t hear that in fact you would be much better off if the State didn’t cut tax and used it to invest in essential public services like affordable housing and childcare.
You won’t hear that the tax cuts will benefit the higher incomes the most and that there are many other options available to the Government that would provide a more equal society and sustainable economy that they chose to ignore.
You won’t hear much about how the Government’s Budget will actually do nothing (or more likely) worsen our deeply unequal society where we have one of the highest levels of low pay and poverty in Europe and is still struggling to overcome the impacts of austerity and a lost decade of investment in key public services like health and housing.
The presentation of the Budget will focus on Ireland’s growing economy and how we can’t do anything radical that might jeopardise that growth.
But the truth is that, without radical changes, this economy will crash again and inequality is going to continue at its current unacceptable levels.
This society is deeply unequal.
For example, the top 20% in Ireland get five times the income of the bottom 20%. The bottom 20% of our society gets just 8% of income – the top 20% gets 40% of income. The top half get 70% of income – the bottom 50% get just 30%.
We have a huge divide between those reliant on the public health system, waiting for months and years for urgent treatment and assessment, left on A & E trolleys and dying as a result, and those who are wealthy and privileged that can afford to access private treatment.
We have the divide between those who live in wealthy neighbourhoods, the majority of whom live longer and go to university, and those who live with substandard housing, broken playgrounds, the threat of anti-social behaviour, and a minority of whom get to go to third level and die younger.
Our economy and society is deeply divided. And this budget will not address that. We have a generation of people in their twenties and thirties (and many older too) in precarious, short-term and low-paid work and forced to live in expensive and precarious private rental accommodation.
Outward emigration of Irish nationals continued last year – 30,800 Irish nationals emigrated last year – most in employment.
They are leaving a country that has failed to provide them secure and affordable housing and prospects of a decent life, particularly in Dublin.
The Irish economic model has broken for younger generations and those on lower incomes and the poor. Home-ownership dropped from 80% in 1991 to 67% today.
Affordable home ownership is unavailable to a new generation.
A quarter of the population suffer from some form of deprivation – which is over double the 11% rate in 2007. Which shows the lasting impact of the crash and the failure of the recovery to reach many households.
Some of the most social excluded households have been hit hardest. Lone parent households for example have the highest deprivation rate at 57.9%. While those who were not at work due to illness or disability have an extremely high deprivation rate of over 50%.
Women, children, those with a disability or illness, those living in poor disadvantaged communities, Travellers, migrants – these are the most vulnerable groups in society and the ones who suffer the most – yet our system ignores them and deems it acceptable that their rate of poverty and deprivation is significantly worse than the rest of society.
This is a fundamental breach of the human right of these people who have the right to a live with human dignity just as anyone else does.
The truth is our economy is unequal and built on the fragile foundations of Government-supported tax avoidance by corporations.
We are a low taxation and, as a result, a low public spending economy, compared to other European countries.
The state has one of the lowest taxation levels – particularly for corporations, business and the wealthy – in Europe, as a proportion of GDP, and we also have one of the lowest levels of public expenditure as a proportion of GDP in Europe.
Our low tax intake means we have much less than countries such as Denmark and Sweden to spend on public services and support that addresses key issues such as supporting those in poverty (a fifth of our workforce are low paid – one of the highest in Europe – a quarter of our entire population suffer economic deprivation and a third of our children are in deprivation).
With less tax available, we also have less to spend on key areas of social and economic infrastructure such as affordable housing, healthcare, education, transport and childcare. Proposed tax cuts will make this situation worse.
In other countries they have much more public affordable services – such as childcare, healthcare, housing provided by the state or not-for-profit organisations (paid through state support, higher levels of taxation and state regulation of the private market).
But here we have followed much closer to the US, neoliberal, free-market approach to basic necessities – that is we leave it to the private market, the ‘for-profit’ commercial sector to provide much of these public services.
But as they seek to maximise profits it makes them more expensive and less universally available.
We face a major problem in regard to changing things. This is the ‘cosy-consensus’ insider culture in our permanent state (amongst the higher levels of civil service bureaucracy) and successive governments, who have been lead by either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, who protect themselves and their ‘class’ of the privileged.
They are not prepared to undertake radical measures that would really benefit those who are excluded and suffering.
For example, in housing – the obvious thing to do is to declare a housing emergency, increase by €1bn the funding going to local authorities so they can build 10,000 social houses per year, set up a State company that can build 20,000 affordable rental and ownership homes, and provide private tenants long term security of tenure.
It wouldn’t require raising taxes on ordinary people to do this – it could be financed by State borrowing, taking some of the Apple 13bn tax, using NAMA land and cash reserves, a high vacant site land tax, from the pension fund, a wealth tax, using the AIB and credit union funding, getting flexibility from the EU fiscal rules – clearly a lot of areas of potential funding.
But they won’t do it because it would lead to reduced rent and house prices – affecting the profits of the ‘property-financial’ industry complex – the vulture funds, the real estate investors, the landlords, the developers and land hoarders.
People on the ‘inside’.
So we won’t see major change until those in power are forced to change – by citizen’s action and by an alternative government that is actually prepared to do something radical – like implement a right to housing and health for all.
Why would the Government politicians change things?
They didn’t (and don’t) feel the pain of austerity, the stress of waiting for hospital treatment nor the trauma of being homeless or the constant anxiety of wondering how you will pay next month’s childcare, child’s birthday party, doctor, rent, mortgage or food bill?
Dr Rory Hearne is a policy analyst, academic, social justice campaigner. He writes here in a personal capacity. Follow Rory on Twitter: @roryhearne
But so bleak.
It’s unfair to compare our tax:GDP or spend:GDP ratio when everyone knows our GDP is artificially inflated.
There is a new GNI* that excludes all the aircraft leasing and IP movements. This is comparable to other counties GDP.
When you use that measure our tax and spending falls into the average for European countries.
GNI* is, itself, problematic in tax comparisons inasmuch as it excludes economic activity from which we draw revenues. If you present revenues as a function of tax collected per person, probably a better comparison, Ireland presents as a pretty low tax jurisdiction relative other similarly developed states.
Yes but tax per capita is problematic too because Ireland has a high share of under 25s most of whom don’t consume or earn enough to pay much tax.
GNI* is indeed the best denominator for all kinds of public finance analysis as it is pretty much the best measure of the taxable capacity of the economy.
Recall the definition: “GNI less profits of (1) re-domiciled companies and (2) the depreciation of intellectual property products and (3) aircraft leasing companies”
(1): these companies have almost no activity here and (presumably) pay very little tax
(2): depreciation is pretty much offset against revenues on the way to taxable profits
Neither (1) or (2) generates much tax, and I don’t know enough about (3) to even speculate. But still, GNI* is better than any other measure out there.
I’d take that point that demography in Ireland may bias revenue somewhat in per capita comparisons (although the precise effects are a function of the incidence of tax wrt consumer items, income etc.) but it isn’t clear whether this is more distortive than comparisons which exclude the revenue basis from which we draw most of our corporate tax receipts (which are constitute a comparatively large portion of government revenues).
Revenue concluded that 80% of corporation tax comes from “Foreign owned MNCs” (http://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/research/corporation-tax-returns-2016.pdf). Using 2015 data, this implies receipts in the region of €5.5 billion. These are drawn from profits omitted from calculation of GNI* (and unadjusted GNI). That isn’t to say I feel GDP is entirely useful as a measure of fiscal capacity. I don’t. However, I feel applying an effective fiscal weight of *zero* to important flows from revenue perspective represents a significant bias. GNI* is useful for other things.
I think you’re mistaken. GNI* includes the profits of all of the foreign owned MNCs based in Ireland who (presumably) pay a lot of corporation tax on them.
It only excludes the depreciation on their intellectual property assets, which reduces the taxable profit anyway.
GNI* is the best proxy for the tax base.
Bleak indeedly. Though a mighty interesting read. I do be wondering what a economy crash will look like this time.
FYI the eleven indicators which measure deprivation are:
1. Two pairs of strong shoes
2. A warm waterproof overcoat
3. Buy new (not second‐hand) clothes
4. Eat meal with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day
5. Have a roast joint or its equivalent once a week
6. Had to go without heating during the last year through lack of money
7. Keep the home adequately warm
8. Buy presents for family or friends at least once a year
9. Replace any worn out furniture
10. Have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month
11. Have a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight for entertainment
if you answer yes to any of these you are officially deprived. If you look at the people in the top 10% income bracket – they have a Deprivation Rate of 4%.
There is a big gap between objective and subjective measures of poverty.
During the downturn, objectively measured poverty (based on reported incomes) went up. So did subjective measures, based on the list above. Neither was surprising.
Since the recovery began in 2012 objective measures of poverty have fallen. This is quite simply because more people are working and earning wages.
Despite this, the subjective measures have barely fallen at all!
Read here, table 7: http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/silc/surveyonincomeandlivingconditions2015/
The share of people who report the following is particularly high:
-Unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes
-Unable to afford to replace any worn out furniture
You have to be experiencing *two* or more of the 11 itemised deprivations, due to an inability to afford them, to be counted as an individual experiencing “Enforced Deprivation” in the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC)
You have to subjectively report on the basis of a personal assessment your ability to afford these items.
These questions are ultimately about feelings, not about the price of the items in question or your income.
For example clothing and furniture are measured by the CSO as being cheaper than they were 10 years ago.
So you’re saying you might feel like you haven’t a pot to pi ss in but it’s just a feeling? … till you check your bank account or something? come off it.
I am struggling to reconcile subjective accounts of deprivation with objective measures of incomes and prices.
Can you? (With reference to the CSO data please)
I think what he’s saying is that the figure is subjective.
Hypothetically I could be in the top 10% of earners, I’ve been on 3 holidays this year; just traded my 162 car for a 172; paid 3-million for my pad (that’s now worth 4mill); am living the life; have maxed out my credit cards; But can afford neither a new suite of furniture nor a waterproof coat.
I ‘feel’ like I am deprived.
(Note: 4% of the highest earners in 2013 felt deprived!)
I see. Tis all about the feeeelin’s.
Yer gas lads altogether.
What’s stopping the lower 20% joining the top 20%. …..Excuses.
Socialism is by far the best political system in the world…until you run out of other people’s money.
so.. the bottom 20% should get better paid jobs .. even though there’s only a certain amount of those jobs.. and even though society needs those lower paid jobs filled in order to keep everything running ..
…So Poordessie, what’s your excuse?
Housing and other goodies for all is a nice idea but one needs stick as well as carrot to drive an economy
I’m not sure where Rory got his emigration figures from; according to the CSO, emigration was 76,200 for the year-ending April 2016. Immigration for this same period, however, was 79,300 – this is significant, as it represents the first year of net inward migration since 2009 (probably because the economy is performing so well).
Bit strange to show the emigration figures without the accompanying immigration figures for context – the cynic in me would almost think the good doctor was attempting to paint as gloomy a picture as possible using Ireland’s (quite positive) stats.
Quoting gross outward migration without mentioning the offsetting inward migration is statistically indefensible.
There is an interesting question in the net migration numbers though. Why, despite the recovery, are Irish people much more keen to leave Ireland given that so many non-Irish are keen to come?
Because it’s a poohole
“where we have one of the highest levels of low pay …… in Europe ”
This is true, but comes with so many qualifications that it might as well not be.
Start here: 21.6% of Irish employees are indeed low paid according the Eurostat, compared to the EU average of about 17%.
The problem is that the threshold for being ‘low paid’ in Ireland is VERY HIGH at anything below a gross wage of €13.40, second only to Denmark. Well above Germany (€10.50) and the UK (€9.90).
(Read more: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7762327/3-08122016-AP-EN.pdf/3f02c5ed-81de-49cb-a77e-74396bac2467)
Ireland also taxes low earners VERY LIGHTLY. I will post the link in a comment, but a single earner on 67% of the average wage (a little below the low-paid threshold) pays just a 9% average tax rate – compared to a whopping 33% in Denmark!
Data on tax in Ireland:
Play with the numbers as much as you like. Ireland’s system of personal taxation is progressive. Those on higher incomes pay much more proportionately than those on low incomes do.
Is that you paschal?
Also, the role of social transfers in Ireland is very significant and alters the poverty 7 at risk of poverty stats substantially.
But it also prompts the question of why there is so much inequality in market income.
High-skilled people do very well in Ireland because of the presence of multinationals who pay them well.
Ireland has an acute problem with the poor access of low-skilled people in the labour market. This is taken care of to a large extent by a generous welfare system. But it would be nice if we would provide people with the skills to allow them get work on a regular basis.
They should learn from the Germans.
Thank you Cian, Rob_G and Fact Checker for providing a… What Rory Didn’t tell You in the reponses
+1 Thanks Factchecker.
Think the doctor should remove “academic” from his twitter profile.
I will always appreciate an honest analysis
Agree with all this. I don’t have an issue with the basic sentiment of the piece. It is the facebook analysis which infuriates. Buy hey… if you don’t seek to polarise on facebook/twitter, how else can you seek fame and glory.. unless of course you want to head down the route of the homemade nightvision porno ….
Rory Im totally with you, but IMO this society is not mature enough to share. When you speak about social housing , you will have people moaning about ‘where is my free house’ . Some people think everyone receiving social welfare are some sort of lesser human beings. We really do despise each other.
Ill give you an example of the opposite, A friend of mine developed a chronic illness, she is really fupped, she recently managed to get a disability pension (something thats almost impossible to get), from the welfare, its about 200 euro a week, 3 years ago she was earning 74k pa, in a good job.
Private/public healthcare , I dont think people really understand that until they get sick themselves, I myself, developed a chronic illness, I have 5 star private healthcare , my experience with that was poor, my GP asked me to switch to the public system, she told me I would have access to far more medical professionals, nurses, a team of consultants , rather than one consultant sitting in his private practice. She was correct. In fact my primary consultant is the same guy. Private Health insurance is all about the Beds and meals. You get the same care as private patients get. Sure there are some edge cases , for high demand procedures . However , if your kid needs and ENT , it does not matter how good your insurance is , you will wait like a Public patient.
My family , we have 2 good jobs, a house with a reasonable mortgage , and we are considering leaving aswel , we see no future here, Im seeing some of the same indicators we all saw in 2007, the world economy is heading for a ‘market adjustment’ and If the political parties try again to protect the wealthy , I suspect things will not be pretty here. I sometimes think we are heading for another civil war ….
genuine question Phil. Where are you planning to emigrate to that you feel your family would be better?
Portugal , Im an AWS certified professional , So in a way that will make it easier, my company were not cold to the idea of me remote working, but Ill have to take a salary hit. , I also have health issues, Ive investigated the health care over there and there is some sort of reciprocal arrangement between Ireland and Portugal. The milder climate might also help my condition.
We are going to give the house to Dublin City council for a 10 yr period, they will rent it out and look after it.
Ive lived abroad before, and I found I have no interest in other countries domestic politics , so even if their government is making a mess of things , it wont be much of my business…
Good luck with everything, Phil.
I think your basic point about respect and care for others is spot on. I am too used to Irish people hating each other and acting selfishly when it comes to the society we share.
I’m not sure how well the fact that public and private patients receive exactly the same medical treatment ties-in with your argument that Ireland is some sort of Randian dystopia, but I hope things improve for you, phil, whatever decision you make.
About the public/private health care bit , I didn’t want to bore you, but my basic point is that they are basically the same. As the treatment goes, the consultants are the same, one day they wear their private hat , the next day they wear their public hat. They dont treat their patients differently. However in the public part of the hospital , they have more staff, Nurses to explain to you how to take your drugs, they are more holistic , worried about how your condition is effecting you mentally, a nurse referred me , or got the registrar doc to refer me to an in house councillor to explain why I was feeling what I was feeling, not much use, but I felt looked after. Nurses and in house doctors are a second pair of eyes, they confer with the consultant if they have a concern. Ive had all sorts of extra doctors in public hospitals come see me because they were interested, interested in what caused the illness, possibly part of some study they are doing, private practices have no interest in why ppl get sick, or probably they cant afford to, they just treat the symptoms. I participate in Doctor training, which is interesting to say the least. In public hospitals they order far more tests, some say thats waste, I say its more comprehensive.
I think there should be one tier healthcare, we will have to pay for it but it would be much better.
finally , I did an FOI request in 2 hospitals to get my records for my move abroad, the public hospital took great care to verify who I was, were slightly reluctant but eventually gave me my records, the private hospital , ‘probably’ the the top hospital in Dublin , refused to give me my records, Private hospitals are not covered by FOI, and neither are private practices , they invoked some clause, stating that to give me my records might be ‘detrimental to my health’.
Very true. Standard of care is better in the public than in private … nursing , registrars , etc. In case of emergency , go public not private. So say all working in the medical profession.
phil, you’re right FOI doesn’t apply to private institutes, but data protection does. They must supply you with a copy of everything held on computer:
For more details see: https://www.dataprotection.ie/docs/A-guide-to-your-rights-Plain-English-Version/r/858.htm
oops, my bad, it’s not just computer but covers:
• held on a computer;
• held on paper or other manual form as part of a filing system; and
• made up of photographs or video recordings of your image or recordings of your voice.
You should receive them within 40 days of your request. You may have to pay a small fee, but this cannot be higher than €6.35.
Sorry, one last point: There are restrictions for medical records if releasing the information “would be likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health” of the person – but they still need to release all of the other details that would not cause harm.
Cian , I went though all that , and they did invoke “would be likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health” , I could fight them, but dont laugh, if I was to get into a protracted battle with them in order to get my records, I believe that “would be likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health” to me also :-)
phil, sorry to hear that! :-/
Sheep dont participate in Civil Wars..nevertheless there are a lot of angry people out there.the water taxes finally stirred up the hornet’s nest.
All bleating, no ram in the field wha’
This Dr Rory chap is an inspiration to us all at Milltown GC. I’m thinking of leaving Rathgar for Venezuela.
ah, the cheap shot against the messenger as opposed to the message, how blushirtted of you…
What dreck. We already have one of the most progressive income taxation systems in the western world (the top 6% pay 43% of all income tax) and the highest proportion of households in the OECD where on one works (23%). Public services will not be improved in this country by throwing more money at them. The will be improved when public servants who are incompetent are fired.
“Progressive” for tax evading corporations, pretty punitive towards the citizens of this nation.
There is far more to wealth than just labour
Another excellent article by Rory Hearne on how unequal our society is in very real terms.
His analysis of economic inequality is spot on and of course so are his suggestions on how to tackle the housing crisis.
As long as we continue to vote in right wing parties the system of neoliberal freemarket economics will continue until the next crash happens.
Boom and bust cycles which cause unimaginable suffering to countless of ordinary people.
I think we need to approach key areas such as health, housing, education as a right and a common good for our all of our society and not allow them to become another commodity in the same way we did with our water.
No they aren’t
These articles are worse than gibberish
Another great article from Rory. Pity bout the right wing trolls trying to distort it with lies. Please consider closing the comments section, Bodger. Or at least make it harder to view. The only purpose it has is clicks.
This is gas – pretty much everyone above is civilly debating away using stats and sources, but they don’t hold the same opinion as Moyest, and are thus ‘trolls’.
You think we should let old people die because it’s too expensive. I remember seeing you recently defending someone getting personally abused because she disagreed with a company policy. Nobody cares about what you think is “civil”.
The thread isn’t going his way, so he asks Bodger to remove the commenting function. When it it is pointed out to him that the comment thread has been fairly good-natured in tone, responds with a bizarre non-sequitor.
You’re a gas man, but you wouldn’t know civility even if it brought you out for a nice dinner and told you about itself.
Sssh. You think personal abuse and letting old people die in the name of profit is “civil”. Nobody needs to hear from you.
How is this gas? I need a source stat! ;)
Moyest is right. Shut down the comments
Excellent article, straight up honesty, truth and a dose of disturbing but much needed reality.
I’ts disturbing to read many comments, stories and opinions around the budget.
Some forced to emigrate even though they would be considered middle class with a household of two full time salaries in the case of Phil who has chosen to leave through illness and fear of another potential financial collapse and possibly a civil war. (Reminds me of Nick Hanauer, a billionaire investor in the US warning that growing obscene inequality has almost reached a situation of “pitchforks at the gates” – of the wealthiest class minority)
On the other hand you have people saying I’d rather have the 50e or 250e a year extra in lower tax than see the money pissed up the wall by incompetant beureaucrats in the civil service.
Some are blaming this that and the other but at the same time claim the government or their party is doing the right thing and even that they are sure what it’s doing at all. I can never tell if any of these vote for FF or FG, the Labour supporters used to be easier to spot because they were proud of supporting workers rights and unions in the face of opposition from bottom dollar shareholders for profit only privatisation.
The disturbing and sad thing is that very few comments articulate the understanding that you must tax corporate profits and wealth as much as possible to balance the economic inequality in society that created the spiralling and compunding profits in the first place.
Strengthen the economy by raising credit interest rates up to drive mass speculation through cheap credit back out to the fringes and back into a minority and a manageable level of corruption that can be regulated properly as an unfortunate consequence of human greed.
The latest word from the FG/FF propoganda newstalk Denis “The Haitian “Clinton Foundation” Menace” O’Brien media monopoly land is that everything in Ireland is fine because…
” THIS IS A HOLDING BUDGET AND THE NEXT BUDGET WILL BE AN ELECTION BUDGET WHERE THEY WILL BRING OUT THE REAL BAZOOKAS”…. -Ivan Yates this evening… Incredible choice of language…
The truth is plain to see, it’s not just that they do not care about this society as a whole, the system is not capable of caring about the society as a whole. The budget is being used as a political football to play good cop in the case of FG and bad cop in the case of FF (If or in reality WHEN they get to wrestle back control of the ball and purse strings) in order to create the illusion of choice at the ballot but you are always voting for the same thing,
You are voting for one or the other half of the establishment working in the best interests of the elites. Financial Global Networks that are made up of corporations who alone have a GDP bigger than most of the counttries and nation states on earth. The trickle down kick back effect is only good for a small few in society and next to nothing remains in terms of overall benefit to the majority.
The majority of society includes you in the 80% of society. The majority includes the middle AND the aspiring upper-middle class and it’s not just not just working class or the poor and unfortunate,
If you keep voting as part of the 60%-ish FF/FG base for the same establishment rigged three-card-monty trick you are a big part of the problem. I don’t care how good some politicians are in any party, the system is designed and maintained in order to milk you for all you’re worth and give you the bare minimum in return.
It will make you feel good about working against your own self interest while blaming people less fortunate for all the problems too.
Use your vote to break free of the delusion that there is any tangible difference between FF or FG….
At the very least vote for a local independant who is socially active in your area and if elected will focus on some of the serious local issues on your communities behalf. In time these elected representatives will get together as a new party with a new vision and a direction outside the current cabal.
Leave the 60%-ish base majority and help to force FF/FG to become the official single party that the have been for longer than I have been alive.
Most importantly, follow up on your vote, get involved and become an active citezin who holds representatives accountable and puts pressure on the elected representatives both local and national whether you voted for them or not.
The crazy thing is institutions that do not serve the interest of the public can fall very quickly. It can all change for the better far easier than people realise if you just get involved and do what you can to work for the self interest of the society as a whole and not as part of a privelaged minority that most of you will never know or belong to anyway, no matter how well your life is going at the moment or will go in the future.
Just my two cents…. I’m sure many are sick of hearing it but I’ll keep on giving it…
Keep up the good work Rory. A Hearne you can believe in.
Once again, Ireland’s ailing greyhound industry has received a massive injection of tax payer’s money (16 million Euro Budget 2018. This is an industry tainted by animal cruelty and rampant corruption in which attendances, sponsorship, and public support are all on a downward spiral. Several tracks are struggling to stay open. Harold’s Cross greyhound racing stadium has been sold off.
If this were any other sector of the economy I would lament such a development, but this is an industry that subjects Man’s Best Friend to a litany of abuses.
Doping is widespread, as is the practice of feeding live animals and birds to greyhounds to enhance their performance.
The natural lifespan of a greyhound is about 14 years. The average track dog is lucky to live past its fourth birthday. Despite the fact that they make excellent pets, trainers are more likely to have them killed, humanely or otherwise, when their racing days are over.
The lucky unwanted dogs are killed by lethal injection. Others are shot or get a whack from a shovel or spade, or are simply abandoned with their ID ear tags hacked off.
Worst of all is the fate awaiting greyhounds exported to jurisdictions with little or no animal protection: They face strangulation in Spain if they fail to perform or being boiled alive in Southern China for the lucrative dog meat market.
The industry also encompasses hare coursing, in which both hares and dogs get a raw deal. The hare serves as live bait in a contest that harks back to the Dark Ages. The gentlest creature in the Irish countryside must twist and turn and dodge, risking injury or death.
The hares can have their bones crushed if struck or pinned down by the dogs. And greyhounds that don’t make the grade on the Irish coursing circuit are likely to end up in one of the few other countries that permit hare coursing, such as Spain or Pakistan, where a grizzly death awaits them at the hands of animal baiting racketeers.
The Disney movie fantasized that all doggies go to Heaven. The Irish greyhound industry dispatches them to a man made hell on earth as well targeting the iconic Irish Hare.
This industry should not receive one cent of tax payer’s money. And if it does go to the wall, its demise should be a cause for celebration.
Highlights of our greyhound “industry”: