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February 5 2015 5 05 /02 /February /2015 20:08

Clare Daly TD (member of Ireland’s Parliament, pictured with greyhound at protest) has proposed a Bill that aims to ban hare coursing in Ireland and also strengthen the existing ban on stag hunting.


clare d with dog and protesters


Listen to her moving address to parliament here:




And here is a transcript:


TRANSCRIPT: Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2015: First Stage


Deputy Clare Daly: I move:


That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Wildlife Act 1976 and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010; and to provide for related matters.


I am aware that my colleague, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, will introduce a similar Bill in the next period. My Bill proposes to address unfinished business concerning the 2010 ban on stag hunting and to deal with the barbaric practice of hare coursing. Since the imposition of the ban on stag hunting in 2010, there have been persistent and repeated attempts by the Ward Union Hunt to surreptitiously get around it by exploiting a loophole in the 2010 Act. The Act provided for one dog to hunt deer to facilitate a situation where a farmer might have to remove a wild deer from his or her land.


Unfortunately, this provision has been abused by the Ward Union Hunt. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that it has received numerous complaints from the general public about breaches of the 2010 legislation by the Ward Union Hunt. It has also confirmed that it can happen that, while on a drag hunt, hounds can come across a deer living in the wild and chase it for a short time until called off by the huntsmen. The Ward Union Hunt is aware of the rule that dogs should be withdrawn immediately in such instances. The problem, however, is that they are not.


It seems there is an incredible number of wild deer roaming around the area in which the Ward Union Hunt hunts regularly. We had the shocking situation last Friday where a frightened stag stampeded through the main streets of Ashbourne, County Meath, presenting a danger to itself and pedestrians. The Minister of State will be aware that road safety was one of the key reasons the 2010 legislation was passed. In December a stag was chased by the hunt in Summerhill, County Meath, with reports filed on the incident by National Parks and Wildlife Service officers and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine vets.


The Bill also seeks to deal with the issue of prohibiting the practice of hare coursing, an activity to which there is growing opposition. It is a matter of fact that numerous Deputies would vote to have it banned if a free vote was allowed on the matter. It is timely that we are moving the Bill today, given the cancellation of the third day of the national hare coursing championships in Clonmel, County Tipperary. Unfortunately, they will be reconvened next Sunday. I appeal to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to intervene in this matter. The hares for the event will be kept for another week in Powerstown Park, Clonmel, in stressful and unnatural captivity. Next week they will be used as live bait, taken in boxes back to Clonmel, even more stressed and terrified.


The Minister would do well to log on to the website of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports to examine some of the photographs taken by citizens of the coursing activity last weekend. They provide irrefutable evidence of massive cruelty, despite the muzzling of greyhounds, with hares pinned down, struck at high speed and tossed into the air by hyped-up dogs. It is not even a pleasant activity for the dogs. The guidance notes of the Irish Coursing Club state the dogs involved should be killed, rather than rehoused, when their time is up. They also allow for injured dogs to be raced at the behest of the stewards.


All in all, this is an incredibly unwelcome practice. The activity has already been banned in Britain, Northern Ireland, most of continental Europe and Australia. There is no need for this cruel treatment of animals. The European coursing championships were held recently, with thousands in attendance, and no hares were chased, as it was done on a mechanical and drag basis. It is important for animal rights and welfare and the protection of wildlife that the Bill be introduced.


An Ceann Comhairle: Seán Barrett Is the Bill opposed?


Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): No, the Bill will not be opposed, but, personally, I will not be supporting it.


Deputy Clare Daly: I hope the Minister of State will have an opportunity to explain his opposition.


Deputy Mick Wallace: There is a lot of coursing in Wexford.

Question put and agreed to.


An Ceann Comhairle: Seán Barrett Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.


Deputy Clare Daly: I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.


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