Monday 4 august 2014 1 04 /08 /Aug /2014 13:41





It’s that time of year again, when Ireland's Minister for Arts and Heritage must decide whether to license the capture of thousands of hares for use as live bait in coursing. If the Minister grants the license, the gentlest creatures of our verdant Irish countryside will have to face almost five months of abject terror and suffering, starting in late September. They will be snatched their natural habitat by gangs of men and boys using nets,  manhandled and thrown into small crates, conveyed to places of detention, and after weeks of captivity they will be forced to “perform.”


None of this activity serves any scientific or pest control purpose. Nor are the animals captured for food. The sole purposes of coursing are gambling and entertainment. Each greyhound has his or her official name, called out proudly over the public address system. The hares have no names. They are mere pawns in a deadly and one-sided game that bears comparison with Russian roulette: Some hares make it through the escape hatch...but others die as a direct result of being coursed, either from being struck forcibly by the larger and faster dogs, or from stress-related ailments arising from their unnatural captivity or the chase itself.


Reports from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers that attended a number of coursing events last season have become available in the past week under FOI. They show that hares continue to suffer in coursing despite muzzling of greyhounds. The reports refer to hares being struck, mauled, and horribly injured at coursing events held in different counties. Interesting, these latest NPWS reports quote coursing officials referring to hares that have been savaged by greyhounds as “requiring assistance”. A sickening euphemism, but in keeping with their bizarre, repeated claim that hares enjoy being coursed, and that coursing benefits the hare population.


As if this noble creature that survived the last Ice Age required the “assistance” of people who set it up to be hounded, terrorized, and battered by dogs.


The NPWS reports are backed up by video recordings made by animal welfare volunteers at other coursing fixtures that show hares being mauled or tossed into the air by salivating dogs. The damning footage can be viewed on


There is no excuse for the use of live lures in coursing. In Australia and Europe, hares have been replaced by mechanical lures and this has in no way diminished the enjoyment of the fans: Recently the European Coursing Championships were held in Italy, drawing thousands of spectators from across the continent and beyond…and not a single hare was subjected to the horrors that Irish coursing clubs inflict on these animals.

Minister Humphreys could make history by refusing the hare capture license. This is 2014, not the Dark Ages. Live hare coursing is way past its sell-by date.


A video clip from a hare coursing event in Co. Limerick:


Further Details of the NPWS reports referred to:


Anti hare coursing protest at St Patrick's Day Parade in Ne


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Tuesday 22 april 2014 2 22 /04 /Apr /2014 20:28

April 21st 2014  


Dear Friends,


The Irish Government has commissioned report on the country’s greyhound industry that will focus on all aspects of this appallingly cruel industry.  When complete (likely sometime in June though the exact is unknown as yet) the report and its recommendations will be debated by the Irish Parliament, the Dail.


Regardless of what recommendations the report makes (and no animal protection organization expects any hard-hitting ones), we all wish to see an end to the horrific practise of live hare coursing in Ireland, a practise that is cruel to hares and greyhounds alike.


The hares are snatched from the Irish countryside and forced to run from pairs of greyhounds in wire-enclosed fields or parks.  Fans place bets on the competing dogs.


Many hares are mauled or pinned to the ground by the dogs, or tossed up into the air like paper toys. Others die literally of fright, suffering heart attacks. Hares that survive the coursing ordeal often stagger away to die later from stress-related conditions.


The greyhounds are doped to make them run faster, or to slow them down if this is what suits a trainer or the various gambling gangs. They are also fed LIVE animals such as cats, rabbits and unfit hares, the idea being to “blood” them and thus enhance their performance in coursing.  (A link to footage of hare coursing is provided below for anyone who wishes to see what it involves).


Greyhounds that fail to perform in coursing are killed, usually by being beaten to death with spades or shovels, or are simply abandoned in the countryside.


The Government had an excellent opportunity to outlaw this blood sport under its Animal Health and Welfare Bill a few months ago. Instead, it did the exact opposite: to the astonishment and revulsion of animal rights and animal welfare groups, it inserted a provision into the legislation to PROTECT hare coursing and exempt it from prohibition.


The upcoming report and the parliamentary debate flowing from it will present another opportunity to persuade our government to ban hare coursing.


We are appealing to all friends of animals to press for an end to hare coursing and the ill-treatment of greyhounds in Ireland in the coming days...(up to the end of May) in the run-up to the report’s publication... by sending a simple message to members of the Irish Parliament, requesting action on the issue.


You can send the message to ALL members of parliament by emailing it to yourself and sending a “Blind Back-up Copy” to them.


Having typed your message (even the briefest one will suffice) simply copy & paste the list below into the Blind Back-up Copy (“BBC”) line and then email the message to yourself.


Here is the “block” list of all members of Ireland’s parliament.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,




Alternatively you can send a tweet to the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland (message already included in tweet), which calls for a ban on hare coursing and other cruel practises.


To do so, just click on this:


Tweet to @EndaKennyTD



Further info:

A brief film on hare coursing in Ireland:



Video clips showing typical hare coursing scenes:



Video clip one: Hare cries out when hit and mauled...!



Video clip two: Hare severely mauled and carried off field...!


Thanking you,


 John Fitzgerald,


 Campaign for the Abolition

 of Cruel Sports


two coursing fans with dying hare



clare d with dog and protesters


Anti hare coursing protest at St Patrick's Day Parade in Ne

picture of cruelty in action

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Saturday 29 march 2014 6 29 /03 /Mar /2014 21:04

The problem is that the Irish Government's concept of “animal welfare” fully embraces and facilitates the proven cruelty of hare coursing, fox hunting, fox dig-outs, fur farming, badger snaring, among other cruelties, and the so-called Animal Health and Welfare Act permits these activities.


The conference is to be open only to people who will stay conveniently silent about these obscenities.


All groups opposed to any or all of the above named cruelties will hopefully come together and picket this devious attempt at political whitewashing of animal cruelty.


The Government is trying to push its pro-blood sports agenda under the guise of a sham concern for the welfare of SOME animals.


Here are some of the government backed "sportspeople"  in action...attempting to suppress filming of a practise they claim has nothing to hide...



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Tuesday 11 february 2014 2 11 /02 /Feb /2014 01:14

Proof that hare coursing in Ireland needs cover-up to survive...



Those of us who have campaigned for decades against the cruelty of live hare coursing have frequently argued that the organisers of coursing events appear to be terrified of adverse publicity.


There have been incidents over the years in which cameras have been confiscated at coursing events, and people filming them subjected to threats or physical assault.


However, following an assurance by a senior Irish Coursing Club (ICC) official in a recent TV interview that everyone was welcome at coursing events, one might have expected that it would be safe to film what the ICC considers a "a wholesome and traditional rural pastime."


Two animal protection campaigners attended the recent National Hare Coursing Festival (the All-Ireland Finals of the "sport") to video-record part of the event. They aimed to gather further evidence of animal cruelty of the kind witnessed at previous coursing fixtures such as dogs mauling the of hares, striking them with great force, or pummelling or pinning the animals to the ground.


 When the two women commenced recording with a small camcorder, they were approached by a man who asked them to stop filming. When they challenged this request, they were ejected from the coursing venue and told they wouldn’t be getting their money back.


This incident, some of which was captured on film (the camcorder was still running when the women were being ejected) can be viewed on YouTube or the website. 


It demonstrates very clearly that hare coursing is NOT a normal sporting activity. It is banned in many jurisdictions including Britain and Northern Ireland on animal welfare grounds.  


Here in the Republic it continues to depend for its survival on censorship and cover-up.


If hare coursing, as the ICC claims, has "nothing to hide", then why this apparent aversion to animal lovers filming the action?


(* Here is the footage (just uploaded to YouTube) of ICC President Brian Divilly denying the two women the right to film an event that the ICC claims has “nothing to hide.”)


Anti hare coursing protest at St Patrick's Day Parade in Ne



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Tuesday 16 july 2013 2 16 /07 /Jul /2013 22:15




                Emma Sharma Hayes


                               An Appreciation



A woman who was a friend and inspiration to survivors of institutional abuse has passed away.

   Emma Sharma Hayes died peacefully on June 3rd at age 62. She had worked as a nurse in Britain before returning in later life to Ireland where she lived in Dublin’s Jervis Street.  Emma experienced cruelty at the hands of a religious order in her childhood.

   Only decades later would this wound that marred her early years be acknowledged by the relevant Order. In the interim, however, Emma displayed a remarkable lack of bitterness towards the people responsible. 

   She quietly helped survivors of institutional abuse, availing of her nursing and counseling skills, and her talent and qualifications as a creative writer, to lend support to people struggling to come to terms with the wrongs of another era. 

   She welcomed as a watershed in Irish history the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009 that exposed the horrors of what happened in State-funded industrial schools and the more recent report on the Magdalene Laundries.

   Despite her reservations about organized religion, Emma was a deeply spiritual person. A student of the works of Carl Gustav Jung, she had an open mind on what other levels of existence might await us after death.

   She adopted many causes pertaining to environmental protection and the safeguarding of heritage sites. Emma was a familiar sight on the Hill of Tara during the campaign against the routing of a motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley. For her, it was more than a culturally and archeologically significant location: It was part of Ireland’s soul.

   The preservation of Ireland’s woodland heritage was another cause she cherished. She joined protests at the Dail that urged a reversal of plans to sell off the harvesting rights to our forests.

   Emma was active in the Green Party and though saddened by its 2011 electoral setback, she was delighted with the election of Dublin North TD Clare Daly whose political ethos and social analysis she felt resonated with her own. 

   She organized petitions for a whole range of human rights causes, especially ones pertaining to the ill-treatment and persecution of women.  She also supported the campaign against blood sports.

   Her life of service to others and the causes she held dear were reflected in the attendance at her funeral service at Mount Jerome. Representatives of many campaign groups were there to say goodbye to Emma, as were her daughter Brogan and son Vijay, to both of whom she was a caring mother and friend.

           -John Fitzgerald


(Published in Irish Times-July 8th 2013)



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