Calls have come for a stay of execution regarding the planned closure of Lifford Greyhound Stadium.
Last night (Wednesday) a public meeting – attended by around 150 people - was held in the Fir Trees Hotel in Strabane, to discuss the matter.
Hugh Duffy, on behalf of the Duffy family from Derry who own the stadium, outlined the background that prompted the family to announce last week that the stadium is set to close after this Saturday’s racing.
While the Irish Greyhound Board invested €5.2 million into the upgrading of the stadium – which was completely revamped in 2003 – with the Duffy’s contributing €7 million, it has endured difficult times in recent years. Racing has gone from three times a week to just once a week, and attendances have fallen off considerably.
Mr Duffy has criticised the Irish Greyhound Board for its decision to reduce prize money at a time when the Lifford facility needs more support. If it closes, the nearest track in the Republic will be in Dundalk.
There were calls for a stay of execution to see if solutions can be found to ensure that the facility continues to operate, at least in the short-term.
Following the meeting, a new North West Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association was formed and it is hoped that through the Federation of Greyhound Owners and Breeders it can put pressure on the Board to help try and resolve the current difficulties.
A number of public representatives also spoke, including Donegal councillors Gerry Crawford and Gary Doherty and West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan.
West Tyrone MP Orfhlaith Begley proposed that a cross-border, cross-party meeting of public representatives should take place to see what they can do to prevent Lifford Greyhound Stadium from closing.
Around 35 people are employed between full- and part-time positions and any closure will have a knock-on effect on the Lifford and Strabane economy.
Concern was also expressed at the meeting for greyhound owners and trainers and their dogs, with the fear that many will quit the sport.
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