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Minister responds to anger over proposed closure of Youghal greyhound track

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From Echo Live.

MANAGEMENT at Youghal greyhound stadium have been encouraged to make a robust submission before January 10 on the possible closure of the facility.

It comes as the Minister of State Andrew Doyle has admitted that he’s surprised the track was one of four selected for closure in an independent report.

The impending closure was raised in the Dáil by Cork TDs Pat Buckley and Kevin O’Keeffe this week, with both appealing for the track to remain open.

According to the Sinn Féin representative the Youghal stadium is making €4,500 to €5,000 per night due to the introduction of the Sports Information Services betting scheme.

That’s despite the Indecon report saying it was loss-making and had the lowest attendance of any venue in the west and south-west.

“The closure of this track will be detrimental to the area and would be similar to the closure of Youghal Carpets when I was young,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s Kevin O’Keeffe said: “Earmarking this stadium for closure is a bad blow for east Cork and Youghal. Taking the greyhound track out of Youghal is like a village losing its post office.”

Minister of State Andrew Doyle said that the Indecon review of greyhound stadia was a fully independent, systematic review into the sustainability of individual stadia and the wider industry footprint.

It also forms a key element of Bord na gCon’s current strategic plan 2018-2022.

“The report has recommended restructuring the footprint of the greyhound sector; ongoing cost efficiency measures; targeted investment in animal welfare, marketing and infrastructure; and the ceasing of funding for four stadia.

“The impact of their closure will be acutely felt, and I am cognisant that people’s livelihoods will be impacted,” he said.

Deputy Buckley questioned “why we are trying to fix something that is not broken” while Deputy O’Keeffe said that while he knew submissions could be taken up to 10 January on the issue, he hoped the Minister of State would take on board the concerns that have been raised.

Labour TD Seán Sherlock said Youghal was being unfairly treated: “The terms of reference set out with regard to the Indecon report seem to have worked unfairly against centres like Youghal. There will be a good fight by the people of Youghal regarding the proposal to close this track.”