Kildare South Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has this week welcomed the approval by the all party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, of which he is a member, of the increased provision of €14m for the Horse and Greyhound Fund to bring the total fund to €68m for 2015, a 26% increase in one year. Speaking at the Committee, Deputy Heydon welcomed the increase and the certainty provided to the industry with commitments to further increases next year.

“The significant increase in funding for the horse racing industry found by Ministers Noonan and Coveney is recognition by this Government of the vital role the industry plays in our overall economy. The expected increase in exchequer returns from the Betting Amendment Bill which extends betting duty to remote and online operators allowed us to fight for a greater investment in the industry.

“There are a number of important projects that need to be progressed including the redevelopment of the Curragh Racecourse. Minister Noonan’s commitment to a further increase in next year’s budget allows plans for these important projects to continue.

“The Bloodstock industry is worth €1.1bn to our economy. It employs almost 16,000 but it used to employ over 20,000. This is economic activity in parts of rural Ireland where there are very little other employment opportunities. There is no reason that we can’t get back to those employment levels with proper investment and support.

“The motion was agreed by our committee on Tuesday and will now be laid before the Dail and the Seanad which finalises the process.