Animal Voice, Winter 2006-07 (40th Anniversary Edition)
Section 3

Gone to the races: 37% of government sports funds

Green Party TD, Paul Gogarty, has challenged the government on its funding of the dog and horse racing industries.

In a media statement issued in June, Mr Gogarty said he was "appalled that 37 per cent of all government funding on sport goes to the horse and greyhound racing industry".

Although conceding that it is a social outlet for some people, the Dublin Mid West Deputy disputed its "sport" status. He remarked: "It does not make people fitter and healthier from a physical or spiritual point of view."

"It is a sickening statistic considering there are clubs around the country crying out for funding - clubs that involve people in active participation in sport," Mr Gogarty commented. "It is these clubs that should be the priorities for Government; not profitable industries that have more to do with gambling than exercise."

International demo against coursing

An anti-coursing demonstration organised by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports was supported by groups from Ireland, the UK and Germany.

The January protest was held to draw attention to the presence of coursers from the UK at a meeting in County Kilkenny.

With the blood sport banned in England, Scotland and Wales, the coursers were in Ireland to compete in a contest specially set up to accommodate them.

ICABS spokesperson Aideen Yourell stated: "We want to signal to these people that they are not welcome here to abuse our hares and also to convey to our legislators that it's now time to outlaw coursing here."

Thank you to all who travelled to Kilkenny to support our protest.

Protesters holding up placards
Some of the campaigners who joined ICABS for a peaceful protest against hare coursing. The demonstration received extensive media coverage and helped highlight the cruelty of coursing. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

No more bull, promises car rental firm

ICABS has thanked a car rental firm for responding positively to an anti-bullfight appeal.

After spotting references to Spanish and Mexican bullfighting on the company's website - - ICABS highlighted the cruelty of the blood sport and asked if they could be removed.

A company spokesperson responded as follows: "We agree with you and would not like to be seen to be supporting or promoting such activities. We will take steps to remove the text."

Harrier hunting horror haunts Dublin driver

The following distressing account was supplied to ICABS by a Dubliner who witnessed a hare being killed by a harrier hunt last season...

"Driving up a country road near a village in County Dublin, a 4-wheel-drive was stopped in front of me with two men standing alongside it. I pulled in thinking perhaps that there was some accident.

"Just then, a hare came running down the road. I didn't realise what was happening for a moment until a pack of hounds appeared from round the corner. I got out of the car to try and do something but the hounds had caught up with the hare and totally demolished it. All that was left was a tiny piece of fur blowing in the breeze.

"The two men were carrying thick sticks. I assume they were employees of the hunt. I think they were probably trying to beat the hare into a ditch. The brutality of it was horrid to see and haunted me for weeks.

"Driving away, I saw the horses and riders arriving on the scene. I asked one of the hunters if he was proud of his morning's work. 'Oh yes, we are, Madam,'" he replied

ICABS has brought this to the attention of Minister Dick Roche who licenses harrier hunting.

MEP De Rossa pressing for ban on cat & dog fur

The European Commission has confirmed to Irish MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, that Ireland has no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur.

Replying to a series of questions from the Labour Party MEP, a Commission spokesperson stated in August: "Ireland reported to the Commission that there is currently no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur. Neither is there any national legislation making it mandatory to label cat and dog fur products.

"Furthermore it was reported that no data at present exists in Ireland about the amount of trade of cat and dog fur, or the import of cat and dog fur, and the Irish authorities are currently not aware of specific analytical methods to distinguish cat and dog fur from the fur of other animals."

The political will to tackle this problem exists, the Commission maintain, saying that they are "in the process of examining the possibilities for action at Community level".

Millions of dogs and cats are cruelly killed for their fur every year. The fur is mainly used for trims on coats, gloves, hats and toys. Fur-covered animal figurines have also been found to contain dog and cat fur.

In an effort to make these items marketable, the fur industry uses misleading labels including gae-wolf, goupee, Asian wolf, China wolf, Mongolia dog fur, Sobaki, Pommern wolf, dogue de Chine, loup d'Asie, rabbit, maopee, goyangi, katzenfelle, natuerliches mittel, chat de Chine and gatto cinesi. Please avoid buying any item which contains fur.

European Commission proposes EU ban on cat and dog fur. For more on this exciting new development, click on "Latest News" at

Proinsias De Rossa, MEP
Proinsias De Rossa, MEP: working to end fur trade.

TD compares bullfighting to GAA sports

A Donegal politician has made a bizarre comparison between one of the world's most abhorrent blood sports and genuine sporting pursuits like football and hurling.

Cecilia Keaveney, TD stated: "Research from Jordanstown university reveals that with the GAA (Gaelic football, hurling, etc) being a family-friendly sport, drug-free and amateur, it could be the greatest catalyst to attract tourists to Ireland, equivalent to the phenomenon of bullfighting in Spain or that of sumo wrestling in Japan in that it is unique."

The Fianna Fail TD for Donegal North East made the comments during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs last September.

ICABS has written to Deputy Keaveney to complain about the comparison. "GAA sports participants and Japan's sumo wrestlers would, we suspect, object to being compared to those who torture and kill animals for entertainment," we stated.

Also pointed out was the fact that most Spaniards are now opposed to bullfighting and don't want bullfighting to be representative of their country.

In response, Deputy Keaveney wrote: "Bullfighting is synonymous with Spain whether we like it or not. It is (and I have Spanish in-laws) factual."

Asked if she was opposed to bullfighting, she remarked: "I am not aware that bullfighting has been an issue in Donegal North East either recently or in past memory."

ICABS has sent Ms Keaveney a video showing horrific scenes of cruelty in a bullring.

Badger is rescued from deadly snare

A badger was given back his freedom after a compassionate Cork resident found the creature struggling in a Department of Agriculture snare.

ICABS was told that the badger managed to scurry back into his nearby sett but that strong fears remained for his safety.

"I destroyed the snare with a bolt cutters," the rescuer stated, "but the man from the Department replaced it."

Tens of thousands of badgers have been killed in Department snares to date as part of a failed TB Eradication Scheme.

Bullfighting's boring and pointless: Ryanair boss

Ryanair CEO, Michael O'Leary has told the Irish Council Against Blood Sports that he views bullfighting as "boring and pointless".

The comments were part of a response to an ICABS appeal in which we asked the airline to stop publicising bullfighting and bullruns in its in-flight magazine.

The June edition of the publication featured a bullrun photograph on the front cover alongside the headline "Wild at heart - come to Pamplona and run with the bulls!".

Inside, an article declared that "if you are lucky, you can watch the Running of the Bulls every day from July 7-14 from the balcony of 'La Perla' hotel like Hemingway did."

It went on to give tips to those planning to take part in the run. An experienced bullrun participant quoted in the article advised people who fall to "stay down and lie very still".

Although the feature acknowledged the danger to participants ("countless people have been injured during the run, with 13 runners reported to have been killed") and a higher "fatality rate" for the bulls, the predominant impression was that the bullrun was being celebrated.

Elsewhere in the magazine, bullfighting is mentioned three times in a section about Jerez. The Spanish city is referred to as "the home of fighting bulls".

In our letter to Mr O'Leary, we pointed out that bullruns are dangerous to both bulls and humans.

"The bulls used are taunted, hit with sticks, subjected to electric shock prods, may suffer injuries including broken bones and are all destined to be brutally killed at the end of the day in a bullring," we pointed out. "The event is also dangerous to the people who travel to it. During the 2006 Pamplona festival, a man was left paralysed after being hit by a cow."

"We appeal to you to intervene to ensure that the Ryanair Magazine no longer publicises or promotes events involving animal cruelty," we continued. "There are very few major companies remaining in the world which would want to be in any way associated with animal cruelty. We hope that Ryanair can act to ensure that it is not one of them."

Despite admitting that he is personally unimpressed with the blood sport, the Ryanair boss refused to act to keep bullfighting out of the magazine.

"We have no intention of intervening, as you suggest, to restrict the articles which appear in it," he said. "Particularly when they promote or refer to Ryanair destinations."

He added that Ryanair "respect people's right to attend bullfights if they so wish".

ICABS is particularly disappointed at this response. Earlier in the year, the magazine's Austrian-based editor agreed with us that bullfighting is cruel.

At the time, he promised that no further references to bullfighting would appear in Ryanair Magazine.


Please join us in our call to Ryanair to stop publicising events which involve cruelty to animals.

Mr Michael O'Leary
CEO, Ryanair
Corporate Head Office
Dublin Airport, Co Dublin.
Tel: 00 353 (0)1 812 1212
Fax: 00 353 (0)1 812 1213

Michael O'Leary
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary: Refusing to keep bullfight info out of flight magazine

Pamplona man left paralysed

A man was left with paralysed legs after being hit during Pamplona's bullrun festival.

The Associated Press reported that Bank of America employee, Ray Ducharme, "was injured in what is known as a vaquilla, in which hundreds of people chase five cows around the bull ring, pulling their ears and tail".

Ducharme underwent an operation to re-attach two vertebrae. A Pamplona spokesperson said: "He is paralysed in the legs, and will have partial use of his arms. He is in very serious condition."

Seven other injuries were reported during the bullrun itself. One man was gored in the thigh while another was trampled on.

Greyhound appeal to ex-Miss World

Former Miss World, Rosanna Davidson, has been criticised for her connection to the greyhound industry.

The Animal Rights Action Network has written to the model condemning a photo which appears on the Irish Greyhound Board website showing her next to two greyhounds.

ARAN spokesperson, John Carmody commented: "We feel that if Rosanna does work for animal welfare then she should recognize that greyhound racing is a terrible animal welfare nightmare and that these poor dogs should never be used for racing. She should turn her back on the greyhound racing industry and those that promote it."

Ms Davidson has associated with the Irish Greyhound Board despite being a high profile supporter of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

According to the ISPCA, "approximately 14,000 greyhounds are 'disposed of' in Ireland each year."

"They are destroyed because they haven't made the grade as racing dogs or when they are past their best for racing (usually by the age of four)," they outline on their website. "Other unwanted dogs are sold to Spain, where they are forced to race in appalling conditions, with no veterinary care and no prospect of an end to their suffering until they are too badly injured to continue."

Catch wildlife criminals with CCTV cams

ICABS has called for the installation of surveillance cameras at a Dublin park where greyhounds were blooded in broad daylight.

An eyewitness who contacted ICABS described the horror of seeing a hare being taken out of a sack and fed live to the dogs.

Blooding - the feeding of hares, rabbits and kittens to greyhounds in an effort to psyche them up prior to racing and coursing meetings - is illegal in Ireland but is believed to be widespread in the industry.

It's the second reported case of animals being targeted in the Clondalkin park and the second time ICABS has urged South Dublin County Council to act.

Cllr Robert Dowds, who joined us in our appeal, was told by the Senior Parks Superintendent that: "We will examine the possible use of CCTV in the search for a means of trying to resolve the issue of St. Cuthbert's Park being used for anti-social and criminal activities."

Running for the animals

Many thanks to ICABS supporter, Vicki, who took part in this year's women's mini-marathon in Dublin.

Vicki, from Wicklow, completed the 10km course and raised an impressive 200 Euro for our campaign.

The 25th anniversary of the mini marathon is set to take place on bank holiday, June 4th, 2007.

Please consider taking part and helping to raise vital funds for ICABS. Thank you.

ICABS DVD exposes blood sport cruelty

The tranquillity of the Irish countryside is shattered as a fox squeals out in agony. It's the end to yet another hunt outing and the wide-eyed victim's suffering is intensifying. There's a terrier biting into his scalp and terriermen are mercilessly pulling him from the ground.

This is just one of several searing scenes on a new DVD produced this year by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. To coincide with our 40th year of working for animals, we have created what hopefully will mark a turning point for the campaign.

Currently being distributed to the country's politicians, the "Blood Sports in Ireland" DVD shows explicitly the reality of animal abuse here. Foxes torn apart by hounds, hares battered into the ground by greyhounds, bloodied deer chased to exhaustion by hunters and hounds.

We hope that, after seeing the evidence, our legislators will finally commit to banning these cruel activities.

To demonstrate the ease with which cruelty can be replaced with compassion, our campaign disc also includes drag hunting and drag coursing presentations. We are confident that those who witness these humane alternatives in action will agree that there is really no excuse for allowing blood sports to continue.

With a few draghunts already operating in Ireland (and some animal hunts using draghunting techniques to exercise their hounds), it is apparent that, with the political will, the transition will be easy to arrange.

Also on the DVD are features exposing the problem of hunts coming on to public roads, the issue of hunt trespass, earthblocking and the truth about foxes and predation.

The animal cruelty activities covered are foxhunting, hare coursing, carted deer hunting, mink hunting, cock fighting and bullfighting. And for those who wish to get a closer look at Irish wildlife, there are video montages of foxes, hares, badgers and pine martens.

This important educational tool was produced entirely in-house by ICABS during the first half of 2006 and we are very pleased with the finished product.

As well as distributing it to TDs, Senators and MEPs, we will also make it available to secondary schools, universities, libraries, the media, animal welfare groups and individuals who wish to help highlight the cruelty of blood sports. Over the coming months, we plan to make it possible to view the content over the internet so that the whole world can see what the Irish Government must now legislate against. Please keep an eye on the ICABS website for news about this.

To help cover the costs of copying and posting the DVDs, we appeal to you to consider including a donation with your annual subscription. Every disc sent out will help to make even more people aware of the barbarity of blood sports and strengthen our campaigning voice in the future.

Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy of the "Blood Sports in Ireland" DVD.

Cover of ICABS DVD showing suffering fox in agony
The new ICABS campaign DVD

Bikers beware - dangerous hunt roadblocks ahead

Six times more likely to be killed, motorcyclists are listed by the National Safety Council as being among the most vulnerable on Irish roads.

A biker from Cork has revealed to ICABS how he nearly became another victim when a pack of foxhounds came spilling out on to a main road. What follows is his account of what happened:

"I went out for a spin on 2nd January 2006 on my Yamaha FJR 1300cc motorbike in the East Cork direction, heading for Ardmore and taking the coast road to Dungarvan. I was driving along at the permitted speed of 80kph when, out of nowhere, 25ft in front of my bike, a pack of hounds came out of a farm gate and across the road into another gate. Well, I locked on my brakes and smoked up my back tyre and went into the pack of hounds, glancing off two of them. My bike came to a stop inches away from the concrete gate pillar.

"Had I been going that little bit faster, I would have suffered a very serious injury at the least, hitting the concrete pillar. Well, I was shaking with fright and my instant reaction was to look for the master of the hunt for an explanation. Unfortunately, though, bikes don't jump ditches, so after a minute composing myself, I went on my way, still shaking with fright.

"The government are quite prepared to add motorcycle deaths to their list, but they never say what caused the accident, when it is a known fact, that in the majority of cases, they are caused by a third party. I hope my letter will be highlighted by you, and it may possibly save another motorcyclist from serious injury or death."

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has passed a copy of this alarming incident on to the Cork Gardai, the National Safety Council, the Road Safety Authority, the Minister for Transport and the Road Safety Officer of Cork County Council and urged them to take immediate action to keep hunts off roads.

We are now renewing our call on motorists around the country to complain to the Gardai if hunts come on to public roads and interfere in any way with the free flow of traffic. The phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland can be found at

Motorcyclists travelling along road
Bikers: particularly vulnerable to dangers of hunts on roads

Dept snarers described as blackguards

Badger snarers employed by the Department of Agriculture as part of a so-called TB Eradication Scheme have been described as "blackguards" in the Sunday Independent.

Popular Country Matters columnist, Joe Kennedy, outlined how badgers "endure unknown suffering before being despatched by gunshot".

ICABS applauds Mr Kennedy for highlighting the cruelty of this discredited scheme.

We concur with his view on the protected status of Irish badgers as being "something of a joke".

NI majority opposed to fox & deer hunts

A huge majority of Northern Ireland residents believe that foxhunting and stag hunting are cruel, according to the latest opinion poll.

Published in March 2006, the Millward Brown poll results also showed that most agree with the North's decision to refuse permission to coursing clubs to capture hares for their blood sport.

Asked if foxhunting is cruel, 79 per cent of those polled said yes. Just 11 per cent thought it wasn't cruel. The poll also revealed that a massive 84 per cent of Northerners think stag hunting is cruel, compared to 6 per cent who don't.

Welcoming the results of the poll, the League Against Cruel Sports in Northern Ireland observed that: "There was consistency from both urban and rural respondents, exploding the myth that there is a wide gulf between the town and the countryside."

Another ambulance delayed during hunt

ICABS has again urged the Gardai to act to keep hunts off public roads.

The call comes following an incident involving an ambulance being forced to slow down during a hunt. It's the second recorded instance of emergency vehicles being affected by hunt-related traffic in County Meath.

In the last edition of Animal Voice, we reported on an ambulance which was brought to a halt during a deer hunt. Now we can reveal that yet another has been caught up in the chaos caused when hunts encroach on to the road network.

Jeeps and horseboxes parked on a road were to blame on this occasion. We have forwarded photos to Garda HQ and pointed out that the ambulance's lights were flashing as it inched along.

ICABS dreads to consider the implications of these delays for patient care. The Health Service Executive has been urged to join us in complaining to the Gardai.

An ambulance with its lights flashing is forced to slow down during a hunt meeting in Meath. Jeeps and horseboxes parked on the side of a road were to blame for impeding traffic. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Heritage Council grant facilitates killing of rabbits

The Heritage Council has approved a grant for a project which involves the trapping and killing of rabbits, ICABS has learned.

The project "to eradicate rabbits from the north west sector of Lambay Island" has secured €27,000 under the council's 2006 Biodiversity Grant Awards.

ICABS is saddened that the project on Lambay will lead to the death of wildlife. We have asked the Heritage Council if a non-lethal approach to dealing with any problems caused by the rabbits has been considered.

Deli firm had ad in coursing card

A company which supplies meat and dairy products to Ireland's major supermarket chains had an advert in the events card for the 2006 Clonmel coursing meeting.

According to their website, Horgan's Delicatessen Supplies Ltd is a supplier to Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn, Marks & Spencer, SuperValu, Centra, Spar, Londis, Mace and Aer Lingus.

Defending the ad, Managing Director, Michael Horgan, told an ICABS supporter: "One is entitled to pursue and support any sporting activity, which does not contravene the laws of the country."

Hotel to reconsider ad after complaint

Sligo's Markree Castle is to consider a complaint from an ICABS supporter.

The complaint was lodged after an ad for the venue listed bird shooting as one of the attractions. The castle's website also states that "deer stalking is available in season on the estate."

"We will consider your comments in relation to future advertising," castle owner Charles Cooper responded.

Foxhunting - cruel and a scourge to farmers

Agricultural Correspondent and ICABS Director, Dick Power, looks back on a history of foxhunting which has seen both foxes and farmers suffering.

Foxhunting - a legacy from those 18th Century English squires who, in search of more speed and excitement, found in the fox (then a scarce creature) a more adventurous quarry than the hare.

Denounced as "the cricket of savages" by agriculturist Arthur Young (1741-1820), it was brought into Ireland by whom Lecky called "the class of squireens and middlemen who kept packs of half-starved hounds and were the chief agents of agrarian tyranny".

At vast expense, coverts were planted, artificial earths constructed and foxes were imported.

"They meant to run him until his blood/Clogged his back bent up and his tongue hung flagging/And his belly and brush were filthed from dragging/Till he crouched stone still, dead-beat and dirty/With nothing but teeth against the thirty."

Those lines from John Masefield's verse-narrative, "Reynard The Fox", describe the horror of the hunt. Many will have heard about foxes which, upon finding an unstopped earth, put an end to the chase but provide the hunters with a chance to dig the creature out and throw him to the pack.

Hunted foxes, trying to throw hounds off scent, deliberately run through sheep flocks, herds of bovines and into fields covered in highly infectious slurry.

In March 1970, the Irish Times had a lengthy article, entitled "The Havoc of the Hunt" in which the author catalogued the hunt's cruelty to farmers, and the sneaky ways in which hunts people try to retaliate against farmers who ban them from hunting on their farms.

Listed were broken fences, scattered livestock and the grave damage to pastures by "poaching" (hoof-prints).

Another major threat posed to farm livelihoods - back then and now - is that foxhounds can host two difficult and dangerous parasites.

In 1996, the Irish Farmers' Journal, reporting on Sarcocystosis, an incurable brain disease of livestock, stated that severe problems in particular flocks investigated by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine were associated with contamination of grazings by faeces from foxhounds.

From Black's Veterinary Dictionary, we learn that hoof-prints not only destroy pastures but are the favourite habitats of mud snails.

They may sound innocuous enough but they're actually the hosts of liver fluke, a parasite causing losses estimated at 60 million euro annually to Irish farmers.

What further proof do we need that foxhunting with hounds is not only a cruel and barbaric legacy from the 18th century, but a modern day scourge, posing a huge threat to the livelihoods of Irish farmers?

Dick Power holding up the remains of a fox which was torn in half by hunt hounds.

Farmers will only ever accept drag hunting

Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass (FAFT) have re-iterated that the only form of hunting their members will accept is drag hunting.

"Foxhunters must adapt and change their arrogant ways," chairman, Philip Lynch, emphasised in a recent statement. "Drag hunting is the way forward. There is no room for fox hunting in modern agriculture. FAFT is simply asking these rampaging horse-borne relics of another age to leave us alone."

Pointing to the tourism potential of drag hunting, Mr Lynch suggested that it is an activity the horse industry should be enthusiastically embracing.

"Tourists could be invited to visit Ireland to drag hunt on properly supervised enclosed tracts of land - for example, on famous courses like the ones at the Curragh, Leopardstown or Gowran Race Course," he remarked. "This would remove the existing problem where farmland, livestock and farm property are vandalised on a daily basis throughout the winter months, leaving farmers to face massive financial losses."

The FAFT group can be contacted on 056-7725309.

Padraic Pearse "totally opposed" to coursing

As the country remembered the heroes of 1916 last April, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called on Bertie Ahern to introduce legislation outlawing coursing.

This, we told the Taoiseach, would be a fitting tribute to Padraic Pearse, whose ideals he is said to admire.

We sent Mr Ahern a copy of a letter written by Padraic Pearse's sister, Senator Margaret Pearse, to actor and ICABS founder member, John Cowley (who played Tom Riordan in the long running soap, "The Riordans"). In her letter, written from a nursing home in 1967, Senator Pearse outlined how her brothers, Padraic and Willie, were kind to animals and would have been opposed to hare coursing.

Senator Pearse had felt so strongly about coursing that she took the time and trouble, then aged 89, to write a letter to the national media, condemning the blood sport.

She told John Cowley: "In my letter to the press, I invoked the names of Padraic and Willie and I was absolutely correct in affirming that they would both have been totally opposed to the inhuman treatment meted out to the innocent little hares at the coursing matches.

"At all times during their lives, they were kind to dumb animals and Padraic's writings give many instances of his love for animals and birds, and I am certain that, were they alive today, they would both be foremost in condemning coursing for the sadistic spectacle that it is."

In an appeal to Bertie Ahern, Aideen Yourell of ICABS stated: "Would it not now be a fitting tribute, Taoiseach, and acknowledgement of Padraic Pearse, his brother Willie and his sister, Margaret, that in this the 90th commemoration of the events of 1916, to bring an end to the cruel abuse that is live hare coursing.

"It would be a gesture that would be applauded by the vast majority of our citizens. As you are no doubt aware, 80 per cent of the population want to see hare coursing banned. Also, our near neighbours have banned hare coursing, leaving us as the last bastion of blood sports that, ironically, we inherited from them in the first place."

The letter was passed by the Taoiseach to Minister John O'Donoghue whose disappointing reply consisted of the standard government defence of coursing as an activity with rules and regulations.

Padraic and Willie Pearse
Kind to the animals: Brothers Padraic and Willie Pearse

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