Greyhound racing is fast approaching its final lap

Greyhound racing is fast approaching its final lap

Greyhound racing is fast approaching its final lap

closeup of black greyhound
alex mulhare

29th July 2021

 

The greyhound racing industry is responsible for the deaths of up to 6,000 dogs in Ireland each year. 

 

In 2017, a business analysis report was prepared for Greyhound Racing Ireland by Preferred Results Ltd. 

 

The report notes that the high number of dogs culled each year in Ireland is due to the following factors: the dog “failed to produce qualifying times,” a “failure to produce desired entry-level times,” and an “unacceptable decline in performance.”

 

In 2020, there were 12,000 dogs bred in this country for the sole purpose of racing. 

 

As a direct result of high numbers of new dogs bred each year, Ireland supplies around 80 per cent of the greyhounds that race in the United Kingdom.

 

Although this is a decline on figures seen in previous years, the Irish greyhound industry continues to breed 1,000 per cent more puppies than it actually needs to maintain the sport. 

 

Speaking to STAND News, Petra Meyer of Clare Greyhound Sanctuary said, “the whole system is geared to produce and then discard surplus dogs, which is untenable from a welfare perspective.”

 

“There is waning interest in the sport, and the welfare issues are concerning to the general public,” Meyer continued. “But even if racing itself stopped, breeding might continue, and with the domestic market closed, breeders might look to developing markets…There is also a risk of illegal racing taking the place of regulated, legal racing, and that is a welfare nightmare.”

 

The sport is banned in many countries but continues to operate in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and in four US States. 

 

Within these territories, greyhound racing tends to be a core component of the gambling industry, much like horse racing. 

 

Not only is the Irish greyhound industry benefiting from the exploitation of its dogs, but it also contributes to the country’s colossal gambling addiction. According to the Department of Health, Ireland is resident to approximately 30,000 people with gambling problems. 

 

“Irish people are the fourth-biggest gamblers in the European Union, losing about €1.36 billion in 2020 alone.”

Irish people are the fourth-biggest gamblers in the European Union, losing about €1.36 billion in 2020 alone. This would average out to a loss of €300 per resident in the Irish State.

 

Greyhound Racing Ireland is also in receipt of €19.2 million of State funding. This figure includes the additional €2.4 million that was allocated to the industry in Budget 2021.

 

In 2019, a RED C opinion poll commissioned by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) and Greyhound Action Ireland (GAI), revealed that 66 per cent of the Irish population believe that the Government should defund greyhound racing.

 

Irish greyhound racing lost several of its sponsors after RTÉ Investigates: Greyhounds Running for Their Lives aired on television in 2019.

 

This documentary exposed the darker elements of the industry, including 15 licensed knackeries that agreed to kill unwanted greyhounds for a fee of €10 to €35 per dog.

 

The Department of Agriculture told RTÉ Investigates that, “Dogs, including greyhounds, are classified as a Category 1 animal and cannot enter a Category 2 plant (knackeries), dead or alive.”

 

Writing for the Journal in 2020, Social Democrat TD for Cork South-West and vocal greyhound welfare activist, Holly Cairns, said, “Attendance at greyhound racing meetings fell by 55 per cent between 2008 and 2018 and the combined loss for tracks between 2019 and 2022 is predicted to be €30 million.”

 

With public interest in the sport waning rapidly, perhaps it is time to listen to those who are left to deal with the repercussions of the greyhound racing industry.

 

Across the country, animal welfare organisations are vastly underfunded and struggling to stay afloat.

 

Gillian Bird of the DSPCA (Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) said in a comment to STAND News, “One of the main issues currently is that there is not enough emphasis or funding put into the after-race care of retired or injured animals.”

 

“Also, there is the issue of overproduction of greyhounds to fulfil the high standards required for the Irish sport,” Bird noted. “If the time trials were less high, then dogs of a lesser speed could be raced and not destroyed or shipped to god knows where when they fail the speed trials.”

 

In February 2021, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced Ireland’s first Animal Welfare Strategy 2021-25.

 

This strategy will “introduce a new system to improve greyhound traceability led by Rásaíocht Con Éireann.”

 

Minister McConalogue then launched the Animal Welfare Grant Programme for Registered Animal Charities for 2021 on 5 July.

 

In 2020, Homes for Unwanted Greyhounds (HUG) was funded through this grant programme.

 

The Irish greyhound industry has not yet been encouraged to contribute funding towards retirement programmes for its dogs despite its continued State support.

 

 

 

Featured photo by Derek Story

This article was supported by: Programme Coordinator Aimee + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Is the EU migrant return policy ethical?

Is the EU migrant return policy ethical?

Is the EU migrant return policy ethical?

sign draped across a building that reads refugees welcome
Ellen Coburn

28th July 2021

 

The EU migrant return policy aims to increase return rates of asylum seekers to their country of origin by making border procedures as efficient as possible. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most contentious yet foundational elements of the Common European Asylum System. Since the increased amount of people fleeing wars in 2015 and seeking refuge in Europe, EU asylum policy has been polarising, with Europe often being dubbed “Fortress Europe” – an impassable fort with watchtowers and border guards prepared to stop at nothing to keep those seeking refuge out. In April 2021, the EU unveiled its very first strategy aimed at encouraging rejected asylum seekers to voluntarily return home and begin a process of reintegration in their country of origin.

 

On the surface level, this new scheme is marketed as being hugely cost efficient for EU member states and as a “more dignified way” for asylum seekers to return home, according to Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for home affairs. But does the voluntary returns and reintegration scheme really promote a more humane, compassionate approach to rejected asylum seekers and demolish the xenophobic backdrop of “Fortress Europe”?  Even so, the system of voluntary returns begs a wider question, one that brings ethics and humanitarian concerns to the table and one that asks, is the right of asylum threatened?

 

“If a migrant chooses to voluntarily return to their country of origin or transit, member states may offer to cover travel expenses to assist the return of the applicant and also offer financial assistance for a period of time upon arrival back to the country of origin.”

Before answering these questions, what positives, if any, arise from the EU’s new proposal? The new voluntary return strategy represents a key objective under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum which represents a holistic and inclusive approach that gathers together relevant EU policies to create a long-term and sustainable asylum and migration system. It differs from previous schemes in that the 2021 proposal provides a clearer framework for setting up assisted return programmes focusing on the reintegration of migrants who do not have the right to reside in the EU. If a migrant chooses to voluntarily return to their country of origin or transit, member states may offer to cover travel expenses to assist the return of the applicant and also offer financial assistance for a period of time upon arrival back to the country of origin. According to the Commission to the European Parliament and Council, the new system will focus on reintegration as a core component of a common EU system for returns and will theoretically help defeat the psychological and socio-economic difficulties that can arise from migrants returning to the community they fled from.  But what happens when voluntary return is neither humane nor ethical? Already the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Parliament have criticised the new returns scheme and have presented studies outlining the drawbacks in implementing a procedure merging asylum and returns, particularly with regards to cases concerning non-refoulement (the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution).  

 

In 2018, a case involving voluntary return was brought to the European Court of Human Rights. The case originated in an application against the Republic of Finland by an Iraqi national who alleged that the expulsion of her late father to Iraq violated several articles in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. After multiple assassination attempts were made on the applicant’s father’s life following his line of work, he sought international protection in Finland. However, over a year later, the asylum application of the applicant’s father was rejected by Finnish Immigration Services. Finnish Immigration Services accepted the facts laid out by the applicant’s father of the assassination attempts made on his life including shootings and car bomb attacks but stated that what the applicant’s father disclosed was hearsay and that these incidences had nothing to do with his personal circumstances or background. Finnish government officials believed that there was no imminent threat to this man’s life and he was to be returned to Iraq. Assisted voluntary return was granted to the applicant’s father and in November 2017, he left Finland. In December 2017, the applicant’s father was murdered by gunshot wounds to the head and body.  

 

The story of this case is by no means an isolated incident. Rejected asylum applications are a narrative known all too well by migrants around the globe who flee their homes, families, and friends because of imminent danger in search of a brighter, more hopeful future. Those who suffer the most unimaginable hardships, harrowing journeys and inexplicable losses are rejected and failed by a system that focuses more on how the EU can send away those who are the most vulnerable instead of prioritising reform of EU immigration services. Instead of focusing on returns, immigration services should instead be more focused on ensuring proper integration for those seeking asylum and proper alternatives to returning migrants. While the prospect of financial assistance and reintegration plans seem theoretically sound and optimistic, they stand for nothing when one must return to a country where political unrest, violence and war are rife.  

 

If the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn’t we want to be treated with compassion and empathy without the fear of deportation to a country that puts human life in imminent danger? Would the EU care more if these migrants were white Americans and not dark-skinned Middle-Eastern people? Perhaps this is a one-dimensional way of thinking about what is a very complex policy, but when a rejected migrant’s only option is to leave the country they sacrificed so much to get to, it makes me wonder, how ‘voluntary’ is voluntary return?

 

 

 

Featured photo by Maria Teneva

This article was supported by: Programme Assistant Alex

 

How domestic abuse scares its victims into silence

How domestic abuse scares its victims into silence

How domestic abuse scares its victims into silence

woman in darkness with hands on her face
anastasiya stand news

27th July 2021

 

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people and families have been confined to their homes for extended periods of time as part of government-mandated lockdowns. Across the globe, this has worsened conditions within volatile households and relationships. Aoibhneas, an Irish support group for women and children victimised by domestic abuse, recorded an increase of 125% in calls to their national helpline from March to August 2020. An Garda Síochána also confirmed to the Irish Examiner in March 2021 that domestic assaults had increased by almost a quarter over the last 12 months. Behind all of these figures lies a face, a life, a story – a woman.

 

Irene is a Ukrainian-born Zumba instructor, nutritionist, and fitness model. She is a single mother of two, who emigrated to Ireland with her then-husband in 2005. Irene bravely came forward to speak about her experience with domestic abuse, as she would like to serve as an inspiration to women suffering in similar situations.

 

Irene is very open about her story, although it is evident that the memory still affects her greatly. Her story began in 1997 when she met her ex-husband. The pair had only dated for a year before they decided to tie the knot. Irene was 18 and her ex was 21 at the time of their wedding. Irene recollects the wedding with a heartbreaking expression.

 

On the day of their wedding, her father-in-law came to speak with her. Irene described the experience as a strange and rather unsettling memory. Her father-in-law warned her and begged her not to marry his son. Although Irene was confused and caught off guard, she didn’t think much of his warnings and proceeded with the wedding. Irene sighs while thinking about their wedding day: “It was really embarrassing to apologize to our guests for all the times my husband swore and acted irrationally. I expected this to be the happiest moment of my life and there he was, cursing at his mother, sister, and anyone who ticked him off that day.”

 

“The truth is you can’t change people. I don’t regret marrying him. The only thing I can thank him for is my two daughters. I just wish I noticed the signs sooner and left before things got worse.”

Irene sits back for a while and looks at the ground before she speaks about the time her husband smashed their wedding photograph. “It was hurtful… Like, that was our wedding photograph! I knew for certain things wouldn’t work out; it was a sign! Crawling around the corridor picking up the pieces of broken glass was almost symbolic. For twelve years, I was trying my best to keep the marriage together, for the kids at least… I thought I could change him. The truth is you can’t change people. I don’t regret marrying him. The only thing I can thank him for is my two daughters. I just wish I noticed the signs sooner and left before things got worse.”

 

Irene shrugs at being asked why she stayed in this violent marriage for so long: “It’s hard to leave a person who is so controlling. I was scared. The other factor is that when we came to Ireland, all I had was him. I didn’t know that there were helplines I could contact; my English was very bad which also hindered my confidence. I was a bit embarrassed to leave him, divorce isn’t something my family supported. Their concern was how the children would grow up in a broken home. It’s not that easy to just up and leave!” 

 

Irene says, “he had really angry eyes. The first time he hit me I didn’t know what to do. When we went back to Ukraine for a vacation, I told his mother that he started physically abusing me and then showed her my fresh bruises. She just shrugged and said there was nothing she could do. For the longest time, I was too afraid to tell my own mother. I was embarrassed and ashamed of the fact that I let him treat me like that. He would often take away our Wi-Fi so that I couldn’t communicate with my mother and sister back in Ukraine. I was getting desperate and depressed. I started hating myself every time I looked in the mirror. I didn’t like the weak woman I saw before me. I started planning on how I would leave him. I contacted a woman’s shelter and my close friend. I was ready to leave.”

 

“I contacted the Cuan Saor Women’s Refuge & Support Service,” she says. They were suggested to me by my friend who knew about my situation.” Cuan Saor is also responsible for the #toointoyou campaign which was shared around NUI Galway last semester. Their core belief is that: “abuse against women and children must become unacceptable at every level of Irish society.”

 

“I no longer hate the woman looking back at me in the mirror. I know she is strong,” says Irene. “I became a Zumba instructor. I travelled half of Europe with my kids. My daughters are free to live without a verbally and physically abusive father. All I can say is that I am grateful to Ireland and the people who supported me through that difficult time.” Irene’s living room is decorated with various diplomas certifying her achievements as an instructor, as well as the many “Thank you” cards she has received from her students who are mainly women struggling with self-image and personal difficulties. 

 

Irene smirks, “they’re not just my students. I don’t just forget about them once I get home. They’re my Zumba family. The progress these women have made is amazing. The enthusiasm I get from my students and the progress they make during my classes make me feel like I’ve done something with my life. I was once like some of the women in my classes; unsure of myself and wanting to improve. I only hope that I continue to inspire these women and push them to reach their personal goals.” Irene became a Zumba instructor close to five years ago and throughout those years, she has had many ups and downs. Irene describes those challenges as the building blocks for the growth of her career.

 

“My struggles with domestic abuse and the difficulties of living in a foreign country so far from family failed to break me and my spirit,” says Irene. “Never ever submit to abuse! Never allow anybody to walk all over you! You are strong and you will get through anything, you just got to make that first step.”  

 

Names in this article have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the following organisations may be able to help:

 

Cuan Saor Women’s Refuge & Support Service

Phone: 1800 576757 (24-hour helpline)

 

Women’s Aid

Phone: 1800 341 900 (24 hour helpline)

 

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Phone: 1800 77 8888 (24 hour helpline)

 

Aoibhneas

Phone: 01 867 0701 (24 hour helpline)

 

 

 

Featured photo by Melanie Wasser

This article was supported by: STAND Women Editor Ellen + Programme Assistant Alex

 

The power of small

The power of small

The power of small

two hands with intertwined little fingers
Orla Leahy

26th July 2021

 

There are numerous publications around the world titled “The Power of Small.” While it may have developed into somewhat of a cliché, the power of small should not be overlooked. Completing a university certified Bystander Intervention programme has illustrated to me that every day, there are millions of small but life-changing decisions made across the globe, whether or not to safely intervene.

 

In 2018, in the United States alone, it was estimated that 734,630 people were victims of rape according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Of those, only 25 per cent were reported to the police. The average lifetime cost for each of those victims in the US falls at just above $122,000.  It is undeniable that sexual assault and rape are seriously pressing and important global issues. In the search for solutions, we tend to jump to the biggest problem solver – how can the law be reformed to better protect victims? Sometimes, however, smaller actions can have a very worthwhile and instrumental effect.

 

To highlight the significance of simple actions, an advertisement was released in New Zealand in 2011, titled “Who Are You?” Although the advertisement was released 10 years ago, it is still of great relevance today.

 

“The flatmate ignores her clear discomfort and allows her to be led into her room by her fellow party-goer. He shuts her bedroom door with a resounding thud. But, what if the protagonist’s story didn’t end this way?”

The video begins by labelling the various characters that feature; best friend, employee, flatmate, and stranger, before depicting typical party scenes: drinking, playing games, music, and dancing. Quickly, the party group descends on a nightclub. The protagonist (and victim), a woman, begins to dance with another of the party-goers, a man. Her best friend returns from the toilets to see the protagonist looking decisively uncomfortable in his arms but leaves him to guide her to the bar for more drinks. The employee at the bar realises the protagonist’s obvious discomfort, but ignores it and serves the drinks. Eventually, the protagonist is led away by her fellow party-goer, past the stranger who notices that something is amiss but keeps to himself. Back at the protagonist’s apartment, another person, this time the protagonist’s flatmate ignores her clear discomfort and allows her to be led into her room by her fellow party-goer. He shuts her bedroom door with a resounding thud. But, what if the protagonist’s story didn’t end this way?

 

Suddenly, the video pauses and rewinds…the flatmate no longer stands by and watches, but thanks the protagonist’s fellow party-goer for bringing her home and offers him a blanket on the couch. The video continues to rewind, and this time the stranger outside the club does not keep to himself but alerts the bouncer who stops the party-goer from leading the protagonist any further away from the club, and offers her a taxi. Upon further rewinding, the employee asks the protagonist about her night and calls her best friend over to help her, rather than merely serve the drinks. Finally, upon returning from the toilets, the protagonist’s best friend takes her home.

 

This advertisement may have been released 10 years ago but its message remains the same. Simple and safe intervention can have life-changing positive consequences for victims. Positive change need not always come from the top, in the form of new and improved legislation, but it can be initiated and flourish from the small but powerful actions of every citizen.

 

Recently, universities around Ireland have backed the promotion of bystander intervention programmes and consent training to highlight the importance of small actions taken by citizens as I have illustrated with the advertisement above. For example, University College Cork were the first to implement a programme in 2017, in the form of a digital badge upon completion of four pre-recorded workshops, one live workshop, a number of quizzes and an assignment. University College Dublin has since implemented a compulsory anti-harassment 90 minute workshop for all incoming first year students. In 2020, Young Fine Gael called for the development of bystander intervention training in all Irish third-level institutions.

 

The New Zealand advertisement asks us who we are, and I ask what we can become? Well, we can become active bystanders and we can utilise the power of small as we have seen, with further development and implementation of bystander training. The only question remains, shall we?

 

Please note that one should only intervene where it is safe to do so.

 

If you have been affected by any of the content in this article, please see the following national services for support:

 

Women’s Aid

Phone: 1800 341 900

Email: helpline@womensaid.ie

Website: www.womensaid.ie

 

Men’s Aid

Phone: 01 5543811

Email: hello@mensaid.ie

Website: https://www.mensaid.ie/

 

BeLonGTo

Website: https://www.belongto.org/

Contact Form: https://www.belongto.org/contact-us/

Find a Youth Group: https://www.belongto.org/youngpeople/youth-groups/find-a-youth-group/

Phone: 01 670 6223 (this is not a helpline, so if you need to urgently speak with someone, you can find a list of helpful numbers here)

 

SpunOut.ie

Website: https://spunout.ie/

Online Chat Service: https://spunout.ie/news/youth-information-chat/

Email: question@spunout. ie

 

 

Featured photo by Womanizer WOW Tech

This article was supported by: STAND Women Editor Ellen + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Humanitarian activist profiles

Humanitarian activist profiles

Humanitarian activist profiles

fist raised close to the camera
amyrose - stand news

23rd July 2021

 

Nancy Herz was born in 1996. She is a Lebanese-Norweigien activist for human rights, women’s rights and religious freedoms. The principles of feminism, anti-racism and free speech are at the core of her work. In 2016, Herz’s article “We Are The Shameless Arab Women and Our Time Starts Now” kick started the #shameless movement in Norway. The aim was to reclaim a word often used derogatorily against Muslim or Arabic women: ‘shameless’. Herz has become a figure of public discourse on the topic. She advocates for women and girls to free themselves from any constrictive gender roles assigned to them – be it due to institutional patriarchal systems or a religious shame-honour culture.

 

A year later, alongside Amina Bile and Sofia Nesrine Srour, Herz published the book Shameless, cataloguing the stories of Muslim women and girls who have experienced negative social control. Their stories of limitation are on one hand inspiring and on the other a reminder that society has some way to go before stereotyping and stigmatisation against women, and specifically Arabic women living in Europe. They have received the Shameless Award (2016) and the Fritt Ord Tribute (2017) for their work.

 

Herz has worked with Amnesty International since she was aged 15 and is now a deputy member of Amnesty’s Norweigian board. She told Amnesty International: “This is what fighting against injustice is about. By using our voices, we can make the space for freedom of expression bigger… it’s an ongoing struggle, but I believe that we have to keep pushing towards a world in which everyone can enjoy their basic right of living freely.” In 2016, Herz received the Freedom of Expression Tribute award. Her memoir, Aren’t You Getting Married Soon? will be published later this year.

 

Fabiola Gutiérrez Arce is a Peruvian political scientist and researcher. The principles of feminism, safety and accountability are at the core of her advocacy. She has campaigned for a government-led independent inquiry to investigate cases of misconduct and violation of human rights throughout the 1990s, a period in which forced sterilization of women targeted Peru’s indigenous population. Arce centres her research work on cases of violence against women in armed conflict; she has undertaken fieldwork and data collection in high-risk or dangerous locations across South America. Her academic work led to her leading the Governance Training Commission of Amnesty Peru and the Environment and Human Rights and Legal Affairs commissions.

 

Since 2017, Arce is also one of nine elected International Board Members at Amnesty International. Her work here involves advising and holding Amnesty accountable. The International Board provides global stewardship and ensures that Amnesty complies with its policies and standards. It also appoints and directs Amnesty’s Secretary General and thus plays an important role in the day-to-day running of the movement.

 

Arce told Amnesty International: “We are determined not to let the injustices of the past go unaccounted for. Peru has a huge historical debt to women, and that’s part of what motivates me to work towards shaping a different future.”

 

 

 

Featured photo by Clay Banks

This article was supported by: STAND Humanitarian Editor Amyrose + Programme Assistant Alex