The Chief Executive of the Irish Greyhound Board has confirmed that it has withdrawn its sponsorship of the Rose of Tralee festival.

Speaking on RTÉ's Countrywide, Ger Dollard said the board had done so because the roses and their families were being abused online following the broadcast of an RTÉ Investigates programme on welfare standards in the greyhound industry.

Mr Dollard said: "It was quite clear in our discussions with the festival organisers that the roses themselves were being targeted, their families were being targeted, there was a lot of what I would describe as online abuse.

"We took the decision for 2019 that it was best for the festival and the participants that we would step back so that that type of abuse - which certainly we do not condone and I think should not be happening - would stop and we reluctantly withdrew our support from this year's festival".

In a statement yesterday, the IGB and Kingdom Greyhound Stadium said they are withdrawing financial support from the Rose of Tralee festival, but said Kingdom Greyhound Stadium will continue to support local businesses and charities throughout Kerry.

Read More:

Conflicting attitude in greyhound board towards internal report
Thousands of greyhounds 'culled each year' for not being fast enough

Government review of greyhound sector funding under way 

RTÉ Investigates reported that up to 6,000 greyhounds are being culled every year because they are not fast enough.

Mr Dollard said the new Greyhound Act provides for the first time the power to introduce a traceability system for greyhounds and he hoped this would be introduced soon.

He said the IGB did not have any role in relation to the export of dogs.

He said the Government's legal advice is that this issue has to be dealt with at a European and World Trade Agreement level because "under free movement people are entitled to export to any country that they wish to do so".

Mr Dollard said the IGB has discouraged the greyhound community from exporting dogs "to countries that do not have a good welfare code".