letter writing

Animal Voice - December 2004
Campaign newsletter of the
Irish Council Against Blood Sports

In This Issue:

01 Appeal to Minister Roche: Stop licensing coursing
02 ICABS applauds British hunt ban
03 Please contact your local politicians
04 Ward Union Deerhunt licence 2004-05
05 Massive grant for country fair
06 Coillte recreation report expected soon
07 Renewed Appeal: No funds to coursers
08 Ward Union: AG's advice partly revealed
09 "China Daily" criticises Shanghai bullfights
10 Campaign Quotes
11 This Friday: "Ban Fur Farming" peaceful protest
12 Badger killing will continue: new Agriculture Minister
13 Greyhound doping again highlighted
14 Proposed amendment could curtail Catalonia bullfighting
15 Poetry
16 Letters to Editors
17 Animal calendars and Xmas cards
18 Opinion Polls and Online Petitions

01. Appeal to Minister Roche: Stop licensing coursing

The 2004-05 coursing season is now underway. 85 meetings, thousands of hares snatched from the wild, injury and death to a protected species. Please join us now in our appeal to Minister Dick Roche to stop licensing this cruel blood sport.

A full list of the meetings can be viewed via the homepage of our website. If you attend a meeting for monitoring purposes, please forward a report on what you witness to ICABS as soon as possible. A copy of the meeting's booklet or fixtures card would also be appreciated as we plan to expose the businesses and companies who help fund coursing through their adverts in these publications. Thank you.

(If possible, please write your own original letter. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence).

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1.

Email: minister@environ.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
LoCall: 1890-202021 (Request to speak to Minister Roche or his secretary)
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640.

Dear Minister Roche,

I wish to express my great disappointment at your licensing of hare coursing for another season.

I think it is most unjust and undemocratic that your department has disregarded the views of 80 per cent of the Irish population. Opinion polls carried out over the past three decades have repeatedly confirmed that a huge majority want this cruel blood sport banned.

Hare coursing in Northern Ireland was stopped earlier this year with the introduction of a ban on the netting of hares. I call on you to urgently work towards enforcing a similar ban here. As it stands, the Republic not only allows this blood sport but it is also now accommodating two Northern clubs who were stopped from coursing in that jurisdiction.

As one of the majority who want the "protected" hare species spared the abuse of coursing, I call on you to grant no further licences to hare coursing clubs. Please make the current coursing season the final one.

Thank you for considering my appeal. I look forward to your positive reply.

Yours sincerely,

02. ICABS applauds British hunt ban

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports applauds the courage and compassion of British MPs who voted to outlaw hunting wild animals with dogs in England and Wales last month. We also say congratulations and well done to those committed and steadfast campaigners, supported by the vast majority of the British public, who have been battling for 8 decades to consign these barbaric blood sports which have inflicted terror, pain and suffering on countless wild deer, foxes and hares over hundreds of years.

We in ICABS derive much encouragement from this development across the water, and we now call on our legislators to move to bring Irish legislation into line with England, Scotland and Wales and outlaw fox hunting, carted deer hunting and hare coursing on our soil.

It is somewhat of an irony to contemplate that Ireland will be the last bastion of these blood sport activities, which we inherited from Britain in the first place, and which they have rightly and justly now seen fit to ban.

03. Please contact your local politicians

With foxhunting and coursing banned in Scotland and soon to be banned in England and Wales, now is a vital time for us here in Ireland to intensify our campaign for political action to end these cruel activities.

We appeal to all supporters to write, phone and email your local Dail and Senate representatives. Tell them that the time has now come for the Irish Government to follow the good example of the UK Government and finally outlaw hare coursing, carted deer hunting, fox hunting, hare hunting and mink hunting.

You may also consider making an appointment to visit the clinic of your TD or Senator and making your views about blood sports known. Ask them where they stand on the issue and what steps they plan to take to hasten a blood sports ban. If you require information leaflets or newsletters to present to politicians, please get in touch with us and we will happily supply you with as many copies as you need.

For the names and contact details of politicians, please refer to the following webpages.

TDs - Visit www.oireachtas.ie, click on Dáil Éireann (on menu at left) and then click on Deputies.

Senators - Visit www.oireachtas.ie, click on Seanad Éireann (on menu at left) and then click on Senators.

MEPS - Visit www.europarl.ie/

04. Ward Union Deerhunt licence 2004-05

ICABS has obtained a copy of the licence issued by the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, to the Ward Union deerhunt. The licence was issued despite ongoing appeals from all over Ireland for this hunt to be ended. Below you will find a copy of the licence along with an action item.

National Parks and Wildlife
Wildlife Act, 1976 (as amended) - Section 26 (1) (ii)

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, by this licence authorises Oliver Russell, Palmerstown, Oldtown, Co Dublin, Master/Person in charge of the Ward Union Hunt Club to hunt deer with that pack subject to the conditions specified hereunder. The authority given by this licence extends to all members of the said Ward Union Hunt Club.


1) Deer may be hunted with the above-mentioned pack during the period beginning on the 15th day of October 2004 and ending on the 31st day of March 2005.

2) The Ward Union Hunt Club shall inform the Minister of the number and sex of all deer released and not recaptured together with an indication of where such deer were last sighted. This information shall be supplied as soon as possible after 31st day of March 2005.

3) All hunts undertaken under the terms of this licence shall be carried out in accordance with the Ward Union Hunt Club code of practice adopted by the hunt committee and dated 30th September 1999.

4) The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government may appoint a person or persons to undertake the monitoring of the Ward Union Hunt Club in a manner to be determined by the Minister and the licensee will co-operate with such person or persons. The Licensee shall indemnify and keep indemnified the Minister, and the Minister for Agriculture and Food, their successors, employees, agents and assigns against all actions, claims, demands and costs in respect of any such losses, injuries, accidents or damage arising from the monitoring operation undertaken in accordance with the licence. A copy of the calendar of hunt with assembly points shall be submitted to the Minister in advance.

Note: This licence does not authorise any person to enter on any land without the permission of the owner or the occupier.

Dated this 22nd day of October 2004
Signed by an officer authorised in that behalf by the said Minister

Action Item

Please write to Minister Dick Roche and register your objection to the Ward Union deer hunt being licensed for another year.

(If possible, please write your own original letter. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence).

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1.

Email: minister@environ.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
LoCall: 1890-202021 (Request to speak to Minister Roche or his secretary)
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640.

Dear Minister Roche,

I wish to register my strong objection to your licensing of the Ward Union Deer Hunt for another season.

It is extremely disappointing that you have deemed it appropriate to give the go-ahead to a hunt which uses a domesticated animal as quarry. Such carted deer hunting has already been banned in England, Scotland and Wales. It was also stopped in Northern Ireland several years ago when authorities recognised that the status of the deer meant they were subject to protection under animal welfare legislation.

I do not accept that a hunt which uses captive-bred and privately-owned domesticated animals is eligible for a licence under the Wildlife Act which deals exclusively with WILD animals. I therefore call on you to immediately withdraw the Ward Union's licence.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you in this regard.

Yours sincerely,

05. Massive grant for country fair

A country fair which included an inter-hunt chase, terrier and lurcher shows and gundog displays was approved a 30,000 Euro grant, ICABS has learned.

The grant for the National Country Fair, held at Emo Court, Laois in June, was approved by Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O'Donoghue (Fianna Fail TD for Kerry South) under Failte Ireland's Festivals and Cultural Events Program.

Among the hunts featured at the fair's inter-hunt chase event were: Kildare Foxhounds, Ballymacod Foxhounds and the Ward Union carted deer hunt.

Following the announcement of the grant, Sean Fleming, TD (Fianna Fail, Laois-Offaly) reportedly wished the National Country Fair "every success in their activities".

Action Item

Failte Ireland is currently seeking applications for funding through its Festivals and Cultural Events Initiative. Please contact them and demand that no funds are given to any event which features hunts or others involved in blood sports. Point out that it is inappropriate for the National Tourism Development Authority to be helping to promote activities which involve the terrorising and killing of animals. Send a copy of your letter to Minister John O'Donoghue.

Mr Shaun Quinn,
Chief Executive Officer,
Failte Ireland
National Tourism Development Authority
Baggot Street Bridge
Dublin 2

Tel: 1890 525 525
Tel: (01) 602 4000
Fax: (01) 855 6821
Email: shaun.quinn@failteireland.ie
CC: festivals@failteireland.ie

Minister John O'Donoghue
Department of Arts, "Sports" and Tourism
Frederick Buildings
South Frederick Street
Dublin 2.

Tel: 01-631 3802
Locall: 1890-383000
Fax: 01-679 9291
Email: customerservice@dast.gov.ie

(If possible, please write your own original letter. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence).

Dear Mr Quinn,

I am writing to register my objection to the approval of a 30,000 Euro grant to the National Country Fair earlier this year. This event included an inter-hunt showjumping competition at which representatives of foxhunts and a deerhunt competed.

I feel it is highly inappropriate for Ireland's National Tourism Development Authority to approve funds for any festival with connections to blood sports.

I appeal to Failte Ireland to make it a condition of future festival funding that no blood sports groups are featured or activities involving animal cruelty are promoted.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive reply.

Yours sincerely,

06. Coillte recreation report expected soon

Coillte has recently approved a new recreational policy and is in the process of readying it for publication. We expect to receive a copy of the report this month and hope to be able to bring you full details in the next issue of Animal Voice.

ICABS was one of numerous organisations who made a submission to the semi-state body on this issue. In our submission, we called for a total ban on hunters entering Coillte property.

It has been confirmed that "recreational hunting" was one of the issues considered by the review group. This group consisted of representatives from Coillte, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Northern Ireland's Countryside Access and Activities Network and the Forestry Department of University College, Dublin.

It met eight times and conducted field visits to research recreation in other organisations, including Metsahallitus (Finland), Forestry Commission (UK), Wicklow Mountains National Park and Forest Service Northern Ireland.

07. Renewed appeal: No funds to coursers

In October we reported how no exchequer funding has been allocated to the Irish Coursing Club in the last decade. Wondering if "the last ten years" included the 2004-05 season, we contacted Minister John O'Donoghue's office to seek clarification. In response we were assured that: "To date, the Irish Coursing Club has received no funding, grants or loans from this Department or Bord na gCon for the 2004/2005 season."

If you have not already written to Minister O'Donoghue, please do so now. Tell him to ensure that not a single cent of taxpayers' money is given or loaned to the Irish Coursing Club. Call on him to amend the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 which states that Bord na gCon may make "payments, grants or loans for...the increase of stake money and prizes at...authorised coursing meetings...the improvement of...authorised coursing grounds and the amenities thereof, the preservation of hares, and the care and management of hares in connection with authorised coursing meetings". (For the full text of the Act, visit our Links section and scroll down to "Irish Legislation Links").

Minister John O'Donoghue
Department of Arts, "Sports" and Tourism
Frederick Buildings
South Frederick Street
Dublin 2.

Tel: 01-631 3802
Locall: 1890-383000
Fax: 01-679 9291
Email: customerservice@dast.gov.ie

08. Ward Union: AG's advice partly revealed

Some light has finally been shed on secret advice given in 1999 by the Attorney General in relation to the legal status of the Ward Union's deer. Correspondence recently received by ICABS from the office of the Environment Minister has confirmed that the then Attorney General was of the opinion that the controversial carted deer hunt "was subject to the licensing provisions of Section 26 of the Wildlife Act 1976 irrespective of the status (i.e. wild or captive bred/domesticated) of the deer involved".

This advice was given in March 1999 to the then Minister for Arts and Heritage, Sile DeValera. Since then, ICABS has been repeatedly denied access to the relevant documents.

We have always maintained that the Ward Union hunt is illegal in that it is an offence, under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act, to terrify or cause unnecessary suffering to a domestic animal. We contend that the deer used by the Ward Union are domestic animals as they are reared in captivity, similar to farmed deer. Furthermore, we feel this hunt should not be granted a licence under the Wildlife Act because the deer cannot be considered as wildlife.

Action Item

Please appeal to Minister Mary Coughlan (she is responsible for animal welfare and the Protection of Animals Act) and Minister Dick Roche (he issues an annual licence to the Ward Union deerhunt under the 1976 Wildlife Act) to end carted deer hunting.

Minister Mary Coughlan
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street
Dublin 2.

Tel: 01-607 2000
LoCall: 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.
Email: mary.coughlan@oireachtas.ie

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1.

Email: minister@environ.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
LoCall: 1890-202021 (Request to speak to Minister Roche or his secretary)
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640.

09. "China Daily" criticises Shanghai bullfights

Chinese national newspaper, China Daily, has strongly criticised a bullfighting event held in Shanghai.

The two days of cruelty took place on October 23rd and 24th. The venue was a city stadium which was converted into a bullring at a cost of around $605,000. The matador and bulls were imported from Spain and Mexico for what the organisers called "a bullfight with a truly Spanish flavour".

However, the introduction into China of an anachronism that is facing growing opposition in Spain and around the world, has been described by China Daily newspaper as "a mistake".

"Bringing in a cruel entertainment that has been widely condemned by civilised society to promote the city's image is more likely to end up bringing shame," their October 25th article stated. "While animal protection and anti-violence is becoming more fashionable in society, Shanghai's 'bravery' in staging this kind of blood sport betrays its position as one of China's most modern cities."

"Rather than a milestone in its bid to [attain] a much-coveted international metropolis status, the bullfighting episode is more like a slap in the face," the newspaper added.

Maria Lopes of the International Movement Against Bullfights, described the event as a fiasco.

"It was not a huge success, as some bullfighters and aficionados are claiming," she said. "The bullfighters talk about 8,000 and 10,000 attending but this is contradicted by the news agency of China who speak of about 2,000 people. We suspect that it was also a fiasco financially. They spent lots of money to buy and transport the bulls from Mexico and to pay the bullfighters; in the end, the tickets sold probably won't pay all the money spent to organise and perform the bullfights."

Despite this, three other cities in China have expressed an interest in hosting bullfights.

Earlier this year, objections from both within China and around the world led to the cancellation of plans to bring bullfighting to Beijing.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on the Chinese authorities to prevent further bullfights from taking place in Shanghai or elsewhere in the country.

Action Item 1

Comment on the China Daily article at www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-10/25/content_385296.htm. Read the article and click on "Comment on this" at the end of the page to express your views on bullfighting cruelty. Call for a rejection of bullfighting and all blood sports in China.

Action Item 2

Please contact the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, Sha Hailin, and ask for your concerns about bullfighting to be passed on to the government in China. (Visit www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/embassy_list.htm for contact details for Chinese Ambassadors around the world).

Sha Hailin
Chinese Ambassador to Ireland
40 Ailesbury Road
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 (0)1 2691707
Fax: +353 (0)1 2839938
Email: chinaemb_ie@mfa.gov.cn

(If possible, please write your own original letter. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence).

Dear Mr Ambassador,

I wish to register my opposition to the hosting of bullfights by Chinese cities.

It was disappointing to learn that a bullfighting event took place in Shanghai in October. This blood sport is opposed by a majority of people in Spain and across Europe and the world. Allowing such animal cruelty to take place in Shanghai or other Chinese cities will undoubtedly prove harmful to their international reputations.

I hope China will reject bullfighting (as Beijing did earlier this year) and introduce legislation outlawing this abhorrent blood sport.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

10. Campaign Quotes

"The hare was greatly revered in Gaelic culture, and properly: it is a thoughtful, wise animal. I used regularly to see one loping across the field beside my house, but I haven't see a hare in over a year. Has anyone else noticed a reduction in hare numbers?" (Kevin Myers, An Irishman's Diary, Irish Times 10th November 2004).

"Fox baiting and fox hunting in particular are cruel and barbaric sports where living creatures are savaged to death with little dignity or respect. I find the idea of grown men and women dressing up in fancy clothes, riding beautiful horses alongside a pack of hounds and blowing a brass horn in order to kill a fox to be quite extraordinary in this day and age. In my view this is just post-colonial madness. In a civilised society we must at least show a small amount of respect to our fellow creatures." (Niall Ó Brolcháin, Green Party Councillor, Galway City Council, quoted in Organic Matters magazine).

"Foxhunting has nothing to do with fox control. Fox numbers, it is accepted, are self-regulating. Any reduction in their numbers is indeed the last thing the hunters themselves would want. They have been known to import foxes and keep artificial earths in areas where numbers were depleted. Releasing a bagged fox is nothing new. One of the biggest threats to the future of hunting in this country now comes from the farming sector as opposition to hunt trespass gathers momentum." (Bernadette Barrett, National co-ordinator, BadgerWatch Ireland, Kilkenny People, 12th November, 2004).

"Having looked at the ICABS website www.banbloodsports.com, our organisation's website is very poor in comparison. We seem to be losing the battle for hearts and minds on PR due to our lack of professionalism." (Comment posted on the website of shooting organisation, National Association of Regional Game Councils, 20 April 2004).

"Whether Pamplona [bull run] is more cruel than what goes on in an abattoir depends a great deal on whether the bulls know what lie in store for them. I understand that a skilled matador can dispatch a bull very quickly indeed, which means that not much suffering is involved, or at least no more than the animals experience in the "human" environment of the abattoir." (Michael HG Mayes, Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe. From a letter reproduced in the Sunday Independent's Life magazine, 21st November 2004). ICABS has written to Bishop Mayes to convey to him how bulls do suffer in bullrunning and bullfighting. In our letter we highlighted how matadors often miss the heart and puncture the bull's lungs instead, resulting in the animal drowning in its own blood.

"Furious farmers last night demanded a government crackdown on foxhunting - because they say it is ruining their livelihoods. Farmers against Foxhunting and Trespass insisted that hunt groups were trampling on their constitutional rights by trespassing all over their land - causing thousands of euros worth of damage." (The Irish Sun, 10th November, 2004).

11. This Friday: "Ban Fur Farming" peaceful protest

With a new Minister for Agriculture now in place, Compassion in World Farming has renewed its appeal for an end to fur farming in Ireland.

They have invited members of the public to join them on a "Ban Fur Farming" peaceful protest this Friday, 3rd December 2004. Petitions will be handed in to Minister Mary Coughlan by two human-sized foxes along with "Sattitude" star, Molly Bhreathnach.

If you are unable to attend the protest, you are asked to please write to Minister Mary Coughlan and ask for a ban on this activity on the grounds that it causes great suffering to thousands of fox and mink. Write to: Minister Mary Coughlan, Office of the Minister for Agriculture & Food, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510. Fax: 01-661 1013. Email: mary.coughlan@oireachtas.ie

Fur farming facts:

Fur farming is illegal in Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland and Austria and is being phased out in Italy. Fox farming is being phased out in the Netherlands and Sweden.

There are six licensed mink farms operating in the Republic of Ireland at present and at least two farms with fox (no licence is required for fox farms). On these farms, there are about 140,000 mink and 1,700 silver fox and Arctic fox confined in rows of small barren cages. Farmed fox and mink are bred on the farm but are still essentially wild animals. They are not domesticated like other farm animals such as cows and sheep.

A single mink farm in Ireland can have up to 25,000 mink, all confined in rows of narrow cages. Some cages are just 10 inches wide and hold one to three animals.

Farmed fox are kept in barren wire-mesh boxes about 48x48x28 inches high, each holding one or two foxes. Even the floor is wire-mesh. There is no room for the animals to exercise.

After about 6 months, farmed fox and mink are killed for their fur. Many foxes are electrocuted; mink are gassed. Killing is done on the farm and no veterinary supervision is required. After killing, the animals are skinned and the pelts exported to international fur markets.

A comprehensive report, The Welfare of Animals Kept for Fur Production, by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concludes that: "current husbandry (rearing) systems cause serious problems for all species of animals reared for fur."

12. Badger killing will continue: new Agriculture Minister

by Bernadette Barrett, National Co-ordinator, BadgerWatch Ireland

It was very disheartening to hear new Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (DAFRD) Minister, Mary Coughlan, state that her Department is to continue pro-active culling on our badgers for their alleged role in the spread of cattle TB. The licence will be granted from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a body ironically entrusted with the protection of the species!

Under the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, former DAFRD Minister, Joe Walsh, promised farming interests that more badgers will be killed. In fact he agreed to hire 75 full-time staff to do the killing. This pro-active culling will involve killing 30 per cent of our 200,000 "protected" badgers over a 4-year period. Approximately 60,000 badgers will be wiped out! It is acknowledged that about 20 per cent of our badgers are infected with TB and it is likely that they picked up the infection from cattle in the first place. Conservation groups are therefore troubled by the fact that 80 per cent of the 60,000 doomed badgers earmarked for killing will be perfectly healthy animals, totally free of TB.

DAFRD states it will reduce badger densities to a point where the risk of infecting cattle will drop substantially. On the other hand, since intensive-farming practices arrived, the density of our national herd has almost doubled, from 4 million to present day numbers of 7.5 million. The public is also mislead when DAFRD says that only infected badgers are killed. Taking out infected badgers means killing ALL badgers since the infection is diagnosed by post mortem examination only. Trapping is by means of the extremely cruel multi-strand wire snare or "restraining device" - a term now preferred within the Department.

Bovine TB will still be with us long after the last badger has been killed. The reactor test for TB is less than 100 per cent accurate. Healthy animals often fail and, more alarming, diseased animals go undetected to spread TB through a clear herd. Areas, such as slurry, fencing and cattle movement should be seriously addressed before we wipe out an indigenous species who may play a minor role, or none at all, in this debate. It has been said, this cull is merely slaughter masquerading as science. Come on Minister, deny it!

More info on the campaign to protect badgers in Ireland can be found at: www.badgerwatch.ie

13. Greyhound doping again highlighted

An Irish Independent article by "Dog Chat" columnist, John Martin, has again highlighted the incidence of doping of greyhounds.

The report related how a man treated in the A&E department of a hospital in November admitted that while trying to inject a prohibited substance, he had mistakenly stuck the syringe into his own thigh.

"While the circumstances here are extreme," Mr Martin wrote, "there is no doubt that administration of dope is a regular feature of greyhound racing in Ireland. Not all handlers know what they are doing. Some give sedatives like largactyl to prevent greyhounds giving of their best. Others administer Viagra in the belief that will quicken the heart rate and propel the dog from traps quicker than the opposition."

In the Summer 2004 issue of Animal Voice, ICABS reported how Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Racing Board, admitted that there is a greyhound doping problem within the industry.

14. Proposed amendment could curtail Catalonia bullfighting

Source: International Movement Against Bullfights and Manuel Maciá

A political party in the Catalonia region of Spain has announced its intention to introduce an amendment to the Animal Welfare Law of 2003. The amendment would not ban bullfighting but would curtail the cruelty carried out by matadors by prohibiting the stabbing of bulls with lances, spears and swords. It would also outlaw the killing of bulls in the arena.

Please join us in emailing a message of support to the Catalan Parliament. Ask members of the parliament to support this amendment and to work towards banning bullfighting entirely from Catalonia.

Email: grupciu@parlament-cat.es; gsoc-cpc@parlament-cat.es; grpppo@parlament-cat.es; gruperc@parlament-cat.es; grupicv-ea@parlament-cat.net; ernest-benach@parlament-cat.net

Latest update: An opinion poll carried out by Demoscopia on behalf of Spanish anti-bullfighting group, ADDA has found that: 73.1 per cent of Catalans think the Parliament of Catalonia should modify the actual Catalan Law for the Protection of the Animals and suppress bullfights. 81.8 per cent of Catalans support the decision of Barcelona City Council to declare itself anti-bullfighting. 71.3 per cent of Catalans do not agree with the retransmission of bullfights on television.

15. Poetry

The Fox from the Hill
by Pat Hemming

It's a beautiful day but the sun's in the way
As I try to look over the hill.
There is dew on the ground and I can't hear a sound,
The whole land is quiet and still.

Now the birds start to sing, all on the wing
And the sun leaves a glow on the hill.
Beast in the fields are content and replete
But suddenly not the bleat of a sheep,
just the bellowing noise of the hounds.

Over the hill in their dozens they spill
Hunstmen with hounds in full cry
And not far in front is the vixen they chase
So I send up a prayer to the sky.

She runs down my way and once more I pray,
May these killers let her be still.
Let them leave her alone so she can go home
To her cubs and be safe on the hill.

But the vixen is tired, she halts in her stride
And with fear in her eyes she creeps down the ride
As she makes her way down from the hill.

With her strength nearly gone she still carries on
For these killers must not find her cubs.

Exhausted she lies, panting and still as the hounds rush in for the kill.
Her death is not quick
But at least she has seen that her cubs are still safe on the hill.

My collie beside me is whining and sad as she hears the screams of the kill.
So I take her away,
But I'll be back later today to rescue those cubs on the hill.

They do it for fun these huntsmen that kill.
How can they be so unkind?
There was NO fun today for the fox from the hill
Nor the orphans she's now left behind.

The Human Victory
by John Amsden
(In support of the announced ban on foxhunting in the UK)

This for them
So long maligned
Now sealed, signed
Not to condemn

Yet time must tell
Another two year
In loneliness for them and fear
The living Hell

And as in things human, called humane,
The backlash strikes
In far meadows, thought or dykes
Knowledge of peace but others wonder
where should they reign?

16. Letters to Editors

Extracts from recently published letters.

Seal killers hide behind a wall of silence
(Irish Examiner, 9th November 2004)

"The ruthless killers of the Blasket island seals have a powerful advantage in their efforts to evade justice - a conspiracy of silence. It is the same cowardly and shameful silence that enables the gangs who organise badger-baiting and dog fights to laugh at the law. The people who know the names of the thugs who slaughtered the seal colony and chose to do nothing about this crime are just as guilty from an ethical point of view. They would do well to remember that the type of person who inflicts the kind of sadistic cruelty that occurred off the coast of Kerry is quite liable to commit serious crimes of violence against human beings. I appeal to the silent protectors of the seal killers to pick up their phones and contact either the gardaí or the National Parks and Wildlife Service." (John Fitzgerald, Co Kilkenny)

Letter to the Editor
(Issues Magazine, 27 October-17 November 2004)

"At our meeting just held, Farmers Against Fox Hunting and Trespass decided to issue an appeal to the foxhunting fraternity in Ireland. We do so with great urgency, as another season is due to commence within a few weeks...with all that entails for the farming community.

"Fearful of any further destruction of our fences, crops or livestock, with hunts making even more money inviting people from abroad to join in the already widespread rural vandalism on our farms, we suggest it is now time for them to move away from all areas of commercial farming. We urge them for the sake of farm livelihoods to relocate to suitable areas and switch to drag hunting in those alternative patches of countryside. We further call on them to pay all farmers on whose land they pursue these activities. By acting on this reasonable appeal and advice, the hunters would avoid the kind of wholesale damage and mayhem to which they have subjected us for decades...We therefore urge the Irish fox hunting set to think very carefully, to change their bullying ways and to accept this opportunity to adapt and survive." (Philip P Lynch, Chairman, Farmers Against Fox Hunting and Trespass).

Why we should ban fox hunting
(Irish Independent, 22nd November 2004)

At last, it's happened: the land that invented, and for centuries eulogised, the hounding and tearing apart of foxes and other animals for fun has now outlawed this obscenity. The banning of fox hunting and hare coursing in Britain is not just a massive boost to the cause of animal welfare. It is equally a triumph for democracy - the law protecting foxes from organised sadism was opposed by the un-elected House of Lords, whose members have no democratic mandate from the people of Britain...Opponents of the ban who argue that it represents a form of political correctness overlook the fact that opposition to hunting with hounds has been around for a very long time. St Augustine decried it as barbarism and Sir Thomas More, martyred for his brave stance against Henry VIII, made his views on blood sports known in his classic work Utopia, published in 1516. He described recreational hunting and coursing of animals as the 'lowest, vilest, and most abject butchery'. The ideal or 'Utopian' society would ban these activities completely, he felt...Even as compassionate people in the UK celebrate the demise of Dark Age savagery, Irish hunts are chasing, tormenting and disembowelling foxes nationwide. The majestic Irish stags are still fair game for packs of idiots in circus outfits who get a thrill from chasing them through briars, brambles and ditches, and across rivers; and who exult in the sight of these fine creatures being humbled and reduced to panting, petrified hulks of bleeding flesh, with eyes bulging from their heads in sheer terror." (John Fitzgerald, Co Kilkenny)

17. Animal calendars and Xmas cards

The UK's National Fox Welfare Society has produced a 2005 calendar featuring photos of fox cubs which were rescued by the group. The calendars are priced at £5.95 sterling each or 4 for £20. More information from National Fox Welfare Society, 135 Higham Road, Rushden, Northants NN10 6DS. Tel: (01933) 411996. www.nfws.org.uk.

For details of Christmas cards sold in aid of various animal welfare societies, visit the chat board of the Irish Animals website.

18. Opinion Polls and Online Petitions

Protect New Jersey bears from hunt

Ban bullfighting in Catalonia

Save the Irish Badger (from Department of Agriculture snaring)

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