Sir - I was shocked and upset watching the RTÉ Investigates programme this week. It was a very difficult watch and doesn’t leave your memory.

This should now be a wake up call for the industry and the Department of Agriculture. It’s hard to believe that there were Department vets in close vicinity and apparently knowing nothing of what was happening just yards away from them – shocking! I don’t even want to comment on the operatives within.

How can we keep shooting ourselves in the foot? The industry governers are asleep at the wheel. How long ago was the scandal within the greyhound industry and still our own people responsible did nothing to create any proper and visible changes.

There has to be accountability with lifetime bans for those involved in this mess to ever be in the vicinity of any equine or animal ever again. Zero tolerance is now required.

The Department of Agriculture must take over the slaughtering process and fulfil the requirement in a proper and humane way. Part of it should be funded through racing.

The only good that can come from this is to shock people into making a sustainable, real and meaningful difference. I know I’m writing this with emotion but how else are you supposed to write it. - Yours etc.,

John Fitzgerald

Restricted trainer,


Co Limerick

Welfare has to be priority

Sir, - I would like to comment on the documentary aired on RTÉ this week and the response from Horse Racing Ireland.

The thoroughbred industry is full of people who have dedicated their lives to the care and wellbeing of horses. This, for many, is not a job but a lifelong vocation. The general public’s perception of the thoroughbred industry is in steady decline, and with good reason.

Horse welfare has to be priority number one for all bodies associated with this industry. Without welfare at its core, there will be no days out at the races, no new owners, no trade, no sponsorship or new investment. It is a downward spiral with fatal consequences.

The industry is consistently reactive and not proactive, a position of defence rather than promotion; this does not look good. We need active promotion of the changes in equine legislation, the enforcement of suspensions and bans, the naming and shaming, an outward demonstration that we are policing this.

The empty response that we see from HRI does nothing to instill confidence. It reflects a lethargic approach drafted by a PR department lacking any industry insight. It lacks any detail or responsibility to address the issues itself, and fails to recognise there is a moral obligation to act, if not a legal obligation.

How refreshing it would be if the industry pushed this agenda and didn’t wait for the next exposé for the perception of the industry to fall further. - Yours etc.,

Jim Ryan

Ballyknockan Farm,


Time for industry to step in?

Sir, - In light of this week’s revelations on RTÉ, is there a case for an industry-sponsored equine slaughter facility to be set up?

Funded by both thoroughbred and non-thoroughbred bodies, it would make our industry more accountable for how we deal with these great animals at the end of their lives.

Social licence is not a given, and this event is yet another example of where the public can genuinely ask the question ‘Do we really care or are we merely paying lip service?’

An honest conversation is needed about what happens next. The idea of signing young horses out of the food chain should also be reviewed. The clock is ticking. - Yours etc.,

Brian Coonan

Equine dental technician,