Newsletter

Animal Voice - March 2009
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports

In This Issue:

01. Church asked to reject hunters' "blood money"
02. Cruelty and the Catechism
03. Protest at Green Party conference
04. Concern that hound attacks "could result in the death of a child"
05. ICABS calls for Garda investigation into alleged blooding in Tipperary
06. Buy & Sell urged to stop listing hunting dogs
07. New Action Alert Poster: Please print and display
08. Aengus O Snodaigh, TD calls for ban on blood sports
09. TV3 Exposes dog fighting cruelty in Ireland
10. Bullfighting dropped from Andrea Bocelli concert display
11. Cruelty in Yucatan: "Pertinent measures be will taken"
12. Please report any hedgerow destruction between 1 March - 31 August
13. Renewed Appeal: Urge Minister Smith to Ban digging out and terrierwork
14. Ongoing Appeal: Join our calls for Animal Crime Unit
15. Ask MEPs to support "pets and stray animals" declaration
16. Campaign quotes
17. Letters to Editors
18. Petitions

01. Church asked to reject hunters' "blood money"

The Irish Bishops Conference has been asked to intervene after a Wexford parish accepted a donation from a hunting group. In a letter of appeal, ICABS highlighted that hunting is contrary to the Catechism and that clergy should never accept money from those involved in terrorising and killing God's creatures.

Brought to the bishops' attention was an Irish Field report from February 28th 2009 which tells of how the hunt set off from Mayglass Church on a "great day's hunting" which brought them across a road, stream, dyke and river in their merciless pursuit of foxes. Alongside the article was a photograph of the parish priest standing next to the pack of killer hounds before the hunt began and shaking hands with one of the mounted hunters.

In a report outlining our objections, the Wexford People quoted the parish priest as saying that he was happy to accept the hunt's donation (full report below).

The hunt in question - the Killinick Harriers - is responsible not only for the killing of wildlife but also for the violent savaging of a cat (a favourite animal of Pope Benedict XVI, we hasten to add). A report from the Wexford People in January outlined how the family pet was "torn to pieces by the hounds" while they were on the trail of an unfortunate fox. The traumatised homeowner told of how the dogs "came up the driveway and pinned the cat against the garage door and massacred it". The side of her house was left splattered with blood.

Please respond to our urgent action alert below. Thank you.

ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER

Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference
Columba Centre, Maynooth
County Kildare, Ireland
Email: columbacentre@iecon.ie, info@catholicbishops.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1 505 3000. Fax: +353 (0)1 601 6401

To whom it concerns:

I am writing to express my concerns following the acceptance by Mayglass Church in Wexford of a donation from a hunting group.

There is no doubt that the appalling terrorisation and killing of animals during hunts is contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paragraph 2418, for instance, makes it clear that "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly." It is entirely inappropriate, therefore, for clergy to accept money from these groups.

The hunt which made this donation was previously featured in the Wexford People after their hounds violently savaged a cat to death (cats, it is appropriate to add, are one of Pope Benedict XVI's favourite animals). The People report from January outlined how the family pet was "torn to pieces by the hounds" while they were on the trail of an unfortunate fox. The traumatised homeowner said that the dogs "came up the driveway and pinned the cat against the garage door and massacred it". The side of her house was left splattered with blood.

I urge the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference to please intervene to ask the clergy in Ballymore and Mayglass to reject this "blood money" and to instead publicly condemn the cruelty of hunting.

Thank you very much. I look forward to your reply.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

[*** Name / Location ***]

02. Cruelty and the Catechism

The cruelty of foxhunting is clearly condemned in the Catechism. According to paragraph 2418, "it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly." Paragraph 2416, meanwhile, states the following: "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals."

Chased to the point of exhaustion and viciously ripped apart, foxes and other creatures suffer the most horrendous deaths during hunts. The orchestration of this animal abuse by hunts is utterly contemptible and undoubtedly, as one Bishop Bellord affirms in A New Catechism of 1901, a "very cowardly and disgraceful sin".

03. Protest at Green Party conference

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports and Badgerwatch held a peaceful protest outside the Green Party Conference in Wexford town on March 7th. The protest highlighted our opposition to the granting of licences by Green Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, to net hares from the wild for coursing, the hunting of tame deer by the Ward Union, and the cruel snaring of thousands of badgers.

We are appalled that after two years with the Greens in government and John Gormley as Minister for the Environment, hare coursing and the hounding of tame deer continues to be licensed, while the scandalous snaring of thousands of badgers continues unabated by the Department of Agriculture (with a licence from Minister Gormley).

As regards hare coursing, it is particularly appalling that a licence was granted to net hares from the wild last September for use as live lures at coursing meetings, given that Minister Gormley himself issued a report in May 2008 on the Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland, which rated the conservation status of the Irish hare as 'POOR', with reasons given as loss of habitat, increased urbanisation and hunting. And as an added bonus to the coursers, Minister Gormley granted them an extension of their cruelty season into March.

Meanwhile, in stark contrast, in Northern Ireland, recognising that the hare population is under threat, Minister for Environment, Sammy Wilson, renewed the now five year hunting suspension in that jurisdiction.

In the case of the Ward Union hunt, this is an ongoing scandal in that tame deer are being hounded and terrorised, which is in contravention of the Protection of Animals Act. This is borne out by Professors William Binchy and Clive Symmons of Trinity School of Law in a legal opinion, published in 2008, which concludes that the Ward Union hunt is "illegal" under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act, and that it shouldn't be licensed under the 1976 Wildlife Act.

Irish Council Against Blood Sports spokesperson, Aideen Yourell, stated: "It's time for Minister John Gormley to live up to his Green credentials and put an end to the licensing of these barbaric bloodsports and the cruel snaring of thousands of badgers. He should stand up to Taoiseach Brian Cowen and those in Fianna Fail who are terrified of losing the votes of the minority involved in blood sports activities which shame and disgraces this so-called civilised country."

ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER

Click here to send an email to all Green Party TDs

Please urge the six Green Party TDs to stand firm on their pledge to protect Irish animals from the terrible cruelty of blood sports.

Minister John Gormley, Minister for the Environment.
Tel: 01 888 2403. Email: minister@environ.ie

Minister Eamon Ryan, TD, Minister of the Department of Communications.
Tel: 01 6183097. Email: eamon.ryan@oireachtas.ie

Trevor Sargent TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture.
Tel: 01 6183465. Email: tsargent@greenparty.ie

Ciaran Cuffe, TD.
Tel: 01 6183082. Email: ciaran@ciarancuffe.com

Mary White, TD.
Tel: 059 9773184. Email: marywhitetd@gmail.com

Paul Gogarty TD.
Tel: 01 6183022. Email: pgogarty@oireachtas.ie

Dear Minister / Deputy,

I am writing to urge the Green Party to please honour its pre-election promise to ban blood sports in Ireland. The Irish animals so cruelly abused and killed in our countryside are depending on your commitment to bring blood sports to an end.

As a first step, I appeal to Minister Gormley to please stop giving licences to the Irish Coursing Club and the Ward Union deer hunt. I also demand an end to Minister Gormley's granting of licences to the Department of Agriculture to snare and kill thousands of badgers as part of a failed TB Eradication scheme that has been described as 'slaughter masquerading as science'.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

[Name/Location]

04. Concern that hound attacks "could result in the death of a child"

The Vice-President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Family and Child Protection has called on Minister Brendan Smith to ban hunting with hounds. Referring to recent attacks on pets and fears expressed for the safety of children, the Independent MEP for Munster, Kathy Sinnott, said she was "greatly concerned that, if action is not taken, such attacks could result in the death of a child."

Kathy Sinnott's move was prompted by an ICABS alert to politicians in which we highlighted the continuing killing of pets by packs of hounds. We flagged media reports which reveal the suffering caused to pets, the distress experienced by pet owners and fears for the safety of children. The latest incident saw an elderly couple traumatised after they witnessed their cat being viciously mauled to death.

The 77-year-old Meath resident expressed fears for herself and her 90-year-old husband after some of the hounds ran into their house following the kill. Her daughter stated: "If my mother's great grand children had been in the house or the garden, they're only tiny tots, [the dogs] could have killed them."

"I am concerned that the lack of control of hounds for blood sports could result in further death and destruction," Kathy Sinnott stated in her correspondence to the Agriculture Minister. "The most recent episode involving hound brutality is the savage killing of an elderly couple's cat in Meath. Similar events have occurred in Wexford, Limerick, and Northern Ireland. Farm animals have frequently been the victims of similar attacks. I urge you to work to ensure that the Animal Health and Welfare Bill bans the use of dogs for such violence."

ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER

Minister Brendan Smith
Agriculture House
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: Locall 1890 200 510 or 01-6072000
Email: minister@agriculture.gov.ie

Dear Minister Smith,

I support MEP Kathy Sinnott's call on you to ban hunting on the grounds not only of animal cruelty but also child safety. As revealed by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, there is a growing list of incidents involving brutal attacks on pets and fears expressed by adults for the safety of children. For the wildlife and pets that have suffered the most appalling injuries and deaths during hunts and the children at risk from these killer hounds, I urge you to ensure that the new Animal Health & Welfare Bill makes hunting with hounds an offence and imposes massive penalties on anyone caught engaging in this shameful activity.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,

[Name/Location]

05. ICABS calls for Garda investigation into alleged blooding in Tipperary

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on the Garda Commissioner to investigate claims made on RTE's Liveline programme that the blooding of greyhounds is being openly carried out in a Tipperary housing estate.

A caller to the show said that he witnessed rabbits (tied by the back legs) being mercilessly swung around in front of the greyhounds. The unfortunates creatures were attacked and eaten alive.

Blooding, believed to be widespread throughout the greyhound industry, is extremely cruel and highly illegal.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports appeals to anyone with information on this, or any other blooding activities, to urgently contact their local Gardai (in Tipperary Town, the number is 062 80670) or the Garda Confidential line on 1800 666 111.

06. Buy & Sell urged to stop listing hunting dogs

Action Alert Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH4EzzpmIIM

Action Alert Poster: Please download and display now.
http://banbloodsports.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/buyandsell.pdf

Buy & Sell newspaper has been asked to stop listing adverts for Patterdale terriers. The call follows a Sunday Times report last month which revealed that some badger baiters are using the publication to advertise dogs used in the illegal activity. Buy & Sell has also been asked by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports to stop listing coursing dogs.

In a letter to the company, ICABS stated: "By including such ads, Buy & Sell is, in some cases, unwittingly facilitating some of the country's worst animal cruelty."

Brought to their attention was an extract from the Times report which outlined how the sale of the dogs used in badger baiting "is organised over the internet, by word of mouth, and in Buy & Sell, a weekly newspaper that carries classified ads. In some cases, advertisements which offer Patterdale dogs described as "working strain", are dogs that are being used for badger baiting."

The report referred to a man who placed an advertisement in Buy & Sell offering Patterdale puppies for sale. When approached by an undercover journalist, the man "spoke freely of his involvement in badger baiting, how he treated his terriers for the injuries they sustained in illegal fights, and how he often travelled to Co Meath to bait badgers with his friends."

He went on to admit digging out a badger sett and finding a nursing badger and her cubs. 'They were only wee cubs and the dog killed one of them," he told the reporter.

In our appeal to Buy & Sell, ICABS pointed to ads on their website for dogs that are listed as coursing breeds and as being good for coursing. We asked for such ads to be rejected in the future, highlighting the horrific injuries and death caused to hares during coursing.

ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER

B&S Ltd
Buy and Sell House
Argyle Square
Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Tel: +353 (0)1 608 0700
Fax: +353 (0)1 608 0770
Email: info@buyandsell.ie

Dear Buy & Sell.

I am writing to appeal to you to please stop accepting advertisements for Patterdale terriers. As revealed in the Sunday Times, these dogs are used to viciously attack and kill wildlife, including foxes and badgers. The Times report revealed how a man who advertised Patterdales in Buy & Sell admitted his involvement in the illegal blood sport of badger baiting and that he dug out a badger sett containing a nursing mother and sent his dog in to kill one of the cubs.

By including ads for Patterdales, Buy & Sell is, in some cases, unwittingly facilitating some of the country's worst animal cruelty.

I also urge you to stop accepting adverts for "coursing dogs" due to the horrendous injuries caused to Irish Hares during coursing.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,

[Name/Location]

07. New Action Alert Poster: Please print and display

Please download and display our new action alert poster. This new poster features an appeal to Buy and Sell newspaper to stop listing Patterdales terriers. More posters will be available in the coming weeks. We would be grateful if you could display them at gigs, youth clubs, animal welfare stands, veterinary surgery waiting areas, etc. Thank you.

A4 Action Alert Poster: Please download and display now (pdf, 53 Kb). http://banbloodsports.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/buyandsell.pdf

08. Aengus O Snodaigh, TD calls for ban on blood sports

Sinn Fein TD, Aengus O Snodaigh, has asked the Environment Minister to "introduce legislation banning all blood sports including hare coursing and fox hunting". Replying, Minister Gormley stated that he does not have a licensing or regulatory responsibility in relation to fox hunting. Please see below for the full text of the Minister's reply.

Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question 401 - Answered on 10th March, 2009

Aengus O Snodaigh: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will introduce legislation banning all blood sports including hare coursing and fox hunting.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gormley): My responsibilities under the Wildlife Acts and the Habitats Regulations relate to the conservation of populations of certain wild animals. As foxes are not a protected species under the Wildlife Acts I do not have a licensing or regulatory responsibility in relation to fox hunting.

Applications for hunting licences under the Wildlife Acts are processed by my Department. Each licence application is dealt with individually and any conservation impact on the particular species is taken into account in line with the provisions of the Acts.

Animal welfare and legal protection of animals from cruelty are the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. A draft Animal Health and Welfare Bill has been circulated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for public consultation. This will, inter alia, update existing legislation to ensure that the welfare of animals is properly protected and that the penalties for offenders are increased significantly.

09. TV3 Exposes dog fighting cruelty in Ireland

TV3's Lawless Ireland programme featured the illegal blood sport of dogfighting in February.

In dogfighting, dogs suffer horrific injuries and die during or after the fight. If you have any information on dog fighting in Ireland, please pass it on to the Gardai immediately.

You can watch the TV3 programme at:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n2MOHfJt8Y
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKg4W5uRfLw

10. Bullfighting dropped from Andrea Bocelli concert display

ICABS has praised Andrea Bocelli's management company after they confirmed that bullfighting footage has been dropped from a visual display at the singer's concerts. Replying to an appeal from ICABS, Almud Music agreed that bullfighting is an "exhibition of cruelty" and that the scene was removed after complaints were made at a Dublin performance in March.

The footage of an injured bull in a bullring prompted one concert-goer to complain to venue management. On RTE's Liveline show, she described how her and her husband were upset at the scene and left during the song Granada (which contains the line "Granada, a land covered in blood from the bullfighting afternoons").

In a letter to Almud Music, ICABS asked for the segment to be removed from the display. We pointed out that bullfighting is mentioned in just one line of the song and that there are other images that could be used to represent the song. "The beauty of Andrea Bocelli's voice should not be aligned with the gruesomeness of bullfighting," we stated.

Replying, a spokesperson for the company expressed sorrow at the reaction the video provoked and condemned bullfighting: "Bullfight, also in our opinion, represents a useless exhibition of cruelty, which we hopefully associate, once and for all, to past ages...as we truly hope that crimes (such) as whale killing, fox hunting and other abuses made by a neglectful modern subculture will be just a sad memory."

She also stated that as soon as they had been made aware of it, they "immediately provided to censor the most cruel images on the second evening concert".

"We gently thank your association to have focused on the matter, and we will definitely take it into consideration for next concerts," she added.

We are absolutely delighted with this response and thank Almud Music for their prompt reply. We also applaud Patricia, the inspirational caller who highlighted this issue on the Liveline show and who was derided by some callers for leaving the concert early. By voicing her concerns to the management of the O2 venue and on national radio, Patricia demonstrates that an individual can make a difference.

ICABS was greatly heartened by the level of opposition expressed on the Liveline show towards bullfighting and we are sure that this will greatly discourage many Irish holidaymakers from attending bullfights this summer. ICABS forwarded a copy of the Almud statement to the Liveline show and it was read out on air. For more information on Andrea Bocelli, please visit his official website at www.andreabocelli.com

11. Cruelty in Yucatan: "Pertinent measures be will taken"

ICABS has welcomed an assurance from the Ambassador of Mexico in Ireland that action will be taken against horrific cruelty to animals in the state of Yucatan. Video footage of bulls eviscerating horses in an arena and a mob of locals kicking and jumping on dying animals was brought to the Ambassador's attention last month.

Replying to our concerns, Ambassador Cecilia Jaber acknowledged our concerns "regarding the unfortunate events of animal cruelty posted on Youtube".

"We have been in contact with the relevant authorities in the State of Yucatan to whom we expressed your concerns," the Ambassador stated. "This was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Tourism in the State and this Embassy has been informed that pertinent measures will be taken. The international affairs office of the State of Yucatan will follow up promptly on this matter."

She outlined that the cruelty filmed in Yucatan at the toro saca tripas event "is not a common practice in Mexico and does not occur on a regular basis".

ICABS has thanked Ambassador Jaber for her positive response. We are very pleased to learn that the cruelty in Yucatan is being addressed.

We will now be conveying our concerns about the practice of Mexican bullfighting to the Embassy. Mexico is one of just nine countries around the world that continues to allow bullfighting.

ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER

Please help the horses and bulls by sending the following message to the email addresses below.

"I welcome the news that measures will be taken against the toro saca tripas event in Yucatan. I hope that such horrendous animal cruelty will never again be tolerated in Mexico. I also wish to express my opposition to Mexican bullfighting, another cruel spectacle which results in terrible animal suffering. Please also work towards eliminating this activity from your country. Thank you."

Click Here to Send Email
[Email will be sent to ivonne.ortega@yucatan.gob.mx; prensa@yucatan.gob.mx; saladeprensa@yucatan.gob.mx; atencionciudadana@presidencia.gob.mx; felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx; contacto@sectur.gob.mx; anticorrupcion@funcionpublica.gob.mx; contacto@sagarpa.gob.mx; hechosmeridiano@tvazteca.com.mx; hechospm@tvazteca.com.mx; correo@canal22.org.mx; 1n@televisa.com.mx; info@mail.oncetv.ipn.mx; porumexicolibre@proyecto40.com.mx; asesor.admon@notimex.com.mx; Adelantos@cnn.com; 977fm@grc.com.mx; panorama@grupoacir.com.mx; redfm@grc.com.mx ]

12. Please report any hedgerow destruction between 1 March - 31 August

The following is a statement from the Department of the Environment's website. If you spot any destruction of hedgerows between March 1st and the end of August, please report it to the Gardai or your local wildlife ranger...

Minister Gormley issues a reminder on restrictions on the destruction of hedgerows and the destruction of vegetation on uncultivated land from 1 March to 31 August, 2009

Mr. John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today (16/3/09 ) reminded local authorities, public bodies, contractors and private land owners of their responsibilities under the Wildlife Acts relating to restrictions on the destruction of hedgerows and the destruction of vegetation on uncultivated land from 1 March to 31 August, 2009.

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000, restricts the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction by other means of vegetation growing on uncultivated land or in hedges or ditches during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife, from 1 March to 31 August. This is subject to certain specific exceptions. It is the case that, in most instances, it is required by law that work to hedgerows is carried out outside this period.

The Minister said, "My Department has recently reminded local authorities and various public bodies of the responsibilities in this area under the Wildlife Acts. I consider that it is possible, in most cases, to schedule and carry out work to hedgerows outside this period. Regrettably a number of situations arose last year which required my Department to seek appropriate prosecution in certain instances".

The Minister added that "In Ireland, given the low cover of native woodland, hedgerows are of exceptional importance in providing habitats and corridors for maintaining wildlife diversity, particularly for birds, but also for wild plants and other ecologically important organisms that provide food and shelter for birds." The Minister is seeking the assistance of the public in bringing to attention any alleged unlawful cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction, by reporting details to the Gardai or to the local National Parks and Wildlife Service office of his Department. Reported instances will, as far as practicable, be investigated.

The Minister confirmed that it is still his policy to prosecute those found to be in breach of this legislation, including public bodies. The Minister takes a particularly serious view of infringements by local authorities, given his Ministerial responsibilities in relation to local government and the wildlife staff of his Department are paying particular attention to this area again in 2009. In recent years the National Parks and Wildlife Service have brought a number of successful prosecutions for breaches of Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts against both individuals and local authorities and will continue to do so.

13. Renewed Appeal: Urge Minister Smith to Ban digging out and terrierwork

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, to outlaw the horrendous practices of digging out and terrierwork. We have written to all TDs and Senators, calling for their support for legislation against this barbarism.

Brought to their attention is a new slideshow video of photos from Ireland which show foxes and dogs with horrendous injuries. Slideshow Video: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8hnku_stop-digging-out-cruelty-in-ireland_animals

Although similar to illegal badger baiting, fox baiting remains legal in this country. It is carried out by what can only be described as thugs and sadists who dig animals out with spades and take pleasure in seeing their dogs inflicting the most savage injuries on them.

Digging out and terrierwork is also an integral part of foxhunting in Ireland. The foxhunters' so-called code of conduct states that "only one terrier at a time may be used to locate the fox except in rocks, stacks of bales or stick piles, etc...Digging shall only be conducted by a small number of experienced people and assistants appointed by the Master or his nominee." It also highlights their desire to keep this appalling act away from the public eye, stressing that "reasonable efforts shall be made to ensure that digging out will not become a public spectacle."

Badger baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting are already illegal in Ireland. The next step must be for the heinous practice of fox digging and baiting to be outlawed.

ACTION ALERT - SAMPLE LETTER

Minister Brendan Smith
Agriculture House
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: Locall 1890 200 510 or 01-607 2884
Email: dymphna.keogh@agriculture.gov.ie (Minister's Secretary)
CC: AHWBill@agriculture.gov.ie

Dear Minister Smith,

I support the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' call on you to urgently ban digging out and terrier work. These horrendous activities are carried out by sadistic individuals and also by foxhunting groups. There is absolutely no excuse for this shameful animal abuse. I urge you to ensure that the new Animal Health & Welfare Bill makes it an offence to dig out any animal and an offence also to send terriers or other dogs below ground to catch or attack animals under any circumstances.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,

[Name/Location]

14. Ongoing Appeal: Join our calls for Animal Crime Unit

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has renewed its appeal to the Gardai to establish a special unit to tackle illegal blood sports like cockfighting, badger baiting and dog fighting. In a letter to Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, we said that such a unit could greatly alleviate animal cruelty.

"There is much animal suffering in modern Ireland - both from legal and illegal activities," we stated. "The formation of a high profile Garda unit to combat the illegal aspect would be an enormous help in reducing cruelty to animals. Such units have proved very popular with members of the public in other jurisdictions as they facilitate priority reporting of animal-related crimes. We would like to see some of the focus of this unit being directed towards illegal blood sports such as cockfighting, badger baiting and dog fighting and also tackling illegal activities such as blooding of greyhounds and the use of unlawful traps and snares."

ACTION ALERT

Please email the following message to Minister Ahern

Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Tel: 01 618 3000
Email: dermot@dermotahern.ie; info@justice.ie
CC: Commissioner@garda.ie (Garda Commissioner)

Dear Minister Ahern.

I support the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' call on you to urgently establish a special Garda unit to tackle crimes against animals. There is much cruelty to animals across Ireland and there is an urgent need for a high profile animal unit to be set up to deal exclusively with this.

Some of the ongoing illegal activities that require pro-active Garda investigations and action are cockfighting, dog fighting, badger baiting, greyhound blooding and the use of unlawful traps.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive reply.

Yours sincerely,

[Name/Location]

15. Ask MEPs to support "pets and stray animals" declaration
(Source of information: Animal Care Society Cork - www.animalcaresociety.ie)

Please write to or email your MEP and ask them to vote in favour of the declaration by Alain Hutchinson, David Hammerstein and Neil Parish on the welfare of pets and stray animals. Please note that Ireland has never ratified the 1987 European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.

* The full declaration (the Written Declaration pursuant to Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure by Alain Hutchinson, David Hammerstein and Neil Parish on the welfare of pets and stray animals) can be found at www.europarl.europa.eu

* The contact details and addresses for Ireland's MEP's are here - simply click on the link for your region.

* The correspondence will have more clout if you include your own wording. However, we've included a sample letter/email below.

* Please consider doing a real old fashioned letter, they carry more weight than an email, and only take a few minutes more. Consider copying it to your own local TD and ask him to put pressure on your MEP. The postal address to sent your letter to is:


European Parliament
Rue Wiertz, ASP 08F343
BE-1047 Brussels, Belgium.

Sample letter, or email

Dear MEP,

I am writing to express my concern about the weak animal legislation in Ireland. I fully endorse the written declaration made by Alain Hutchinson, David Hammerstein, and Neil Parish on the welfare of pets and stray animals. Declaration number DC\764325EN.doc PE419.586v01-00. I request that you please vote in favour of it.

Thank you.

[ Name / Location ]

16. Campaign quotes

"The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has objected to the donation from the Killinick Harriers and says hunting is 'clearly condemned in the Catechism', paragraphs of which Mr. Kiernan quotes to support his arguments...Fr Murty Byrne said that Killinick Harriers are noted local fundraisers who give to worthy causes. While acknowledging that everyone, including the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, is entitled to their opinion, he said they were happy to accept the generous donation to their restoration fund when it was offered." (Hunt donation denounced as 'blood money', Wexford People, March 11 2009)

"Fox baiting: Foxes have no legal protection in Ireland which enables blood sports enthusiasts to subject them to horrific cruelty and kill them using terriers and hounds. Foxes and their cubs are usually dug from their burrows, also known as earths, and thrown to dogs which maul them to death. Vixens and their cubs are sometimes tortured and fed to dogs." (Sunday Times, February 22nd 2009)

"The other day, I drove past a line of crushed badgers beside the wall. They presumably had entered the road along a traditional brock-run. Trapped between unyielding concrete and thundering wheels, no doubt looking for a hole in the wall, they were all hit and killed. Other countries have built tunnels beneath new roads to respect ancient animal-pathways; not us, apparently." (From an article by Kevin Myers - Irish Independent - March 11 2009)

"When we joined this Government, we were wanted but not needed. Now we are needed and it's nice to be needed. It means that many things which were previously unattainable now become possible." (Green Party Leader John Gormley in his opening address at the party's annual convention, March 2009)

"The first vaccine against bovine tuberculosis in badgers will be used in 'the field' in England next year, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today. The vaccine will be used in six areas of up to 100km2 where there is a high incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. Vaccination will start in 2010 and continue for at least five years. It will be the first practical use of a vaccine for TB in badgers outside research trials." (UK News - 4ni.co.uk website, 20 March 2009)

"One of Wexford Fire Brigade's engines is out of action after it was substantially damaged following a collision with horses on the Rosslare Road. Thousands of Euro worth of damage to the fire engine, the front of which was effectively 'demolished' when it struck the horses...A spokesman for the Fire Service said they had just come around a bend, close to the Danby Lodge, when they saw several horses, which were all the way across the road. They were difficult to make out as they were dark in colour and it was 'pitch black' at the time. The spokesman said they slammed on the brakes when they saw them, but were unable to stop in time. The spokesman said the front of the fire tender was 'demolished', however none of the crew suffered any injuries. The Fire Brigade contacted Gubbins and O'Shea's veterinary centre in Wexford. However, two horses had to be put down The fire engine is now out of action until it is repaired and the station's third, or spare, fire tender is being used. A Garda spokesman said that, so far, no-one has claimed ownership of the horses, but they are looking into the matter." (Wexford People - February 18 2009)

"Will everyone be vigilant for badgers at this time of year, both injured on the road, and for evil people who dig them out and use them for 'baiting' with dogs? Our helpline can report cases of cruelty if you suspect this is happening in your area." (From the website of Animal Care Society Cork - www.animalcaresociety.ie - Tel 021-4551781)

"The Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) wrote to Fachtna Murphy, the garda commissioner, and Dermot Ahern, the justice minister, urging them to take action to stop illegal blood sports. "The desperate need for a special animal-crime unit in Ireland has never been clearer. We have renewed our appeal to the gardai and minister for justice to establish a dedicated unit as a matter of urgency," said Philip Kiernan, an ICABS spokesman." (from Ulster's badger baiters go to ground after raids, Sunday Times, March 1, 2009)

17. Letters to Editors

Vivid contrast
by Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports
The Kingdom, February 19 2009

The contrast could not have been more vivid. In Clonmel, at a cruelty festival sanctioned by a Green Party minister, people cheered as greyhounds chased terrified hares.

A few hundred miles to the east, where this animal abuse is already illegal, a different kind of chase was underway. Police from the Hertfordshire Constabulary were in pursuit of seven individuals reported to have been engaging in the same kind of activity being hosted in the area.

Employing three off-road vehicles and a police helicopter, the officers relentlessly tracked the suspects as they and their dogs scarpered across fields. An attempt to escape on quad bikes failed and the group was eventually found holed up in a barn and arrested.

In a statement issued later that day - perhaps around the same time as the last hare of the day was being terrorised in Tipperary - Constabulary Sergeant Chris Hunt implored anyone with information on coursing activities to call Crimestoppers.

For the long-suffering hares in Ireland, the day can't come soon enough when the cruelty inflicted on them is recognised as a crime and the culprits no longer have a licence from Minister Gormley to hide behind.

'Blooding' is simply too cruel
by John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny
Irish Independent - March 27 2009

Listeners to RTE's 'Liveline' this week will have been shocked by the graphic account of cruelty given by a caller who witnessed blooding of greyhounds with live rabbits.

This practice is widespread in Ireland, and an integral part of both greyhound racing and hare coursing. Trainers are keenly aware that a dog is likely to perform better on the track or coursing field if it savages a still live rabbit, hare or cat. The taste of blood is deemed to give it an edge over competitors.

The trainer ties the animal to a pole, and waits until the dog has been whipped up into a frenzy of bloodlust before releasing it to attack the terrified captive. Or the animal's back legs are broken so that the dog catches it within seconds and rips it apart.

Blooding is especially cruel when applied to a cat, because it has tougher skin than a rabbit or hare and takes much longer to expire. Family pets that mysteriously disappear may end up in the hands of these unscrupulous trainers, so cat owners should be vigilant.

Why Irish hares need protection to boost numbers
by Mike Rendle, Irish Hare Initiative, Tyrone
Belfast Telegraph, 14th March 2009

In its response to the review of the Wildlife Order the Ulster Wildlife Trust has chosen not to support greater protection for our cultural icon and trust logo, the Irish hare.

The trust and others have apparently based this on flawed premises. The first assumption is that 'in the short-term the (Irish hare) population is increasing'.

This is a very optimistic interpretation of a very small amount of data and conflicts with anecdotal evidence of a general scarcity of hares.

Many, including those responsible for the surveys, acknowledge that an enormous disparity in hare density exists.

The trust appears to have overlooked the fact that the actual number of hares counted in 2008 (187 hares) is the lowest since 2002.

There is increasing evidence to support the view that activities such as coursing pose a real threat to the Irish hare. Nonetheless, the acknowledged level of uncertainty provides sufficient reason for applying the Precautionary Principle, the first recommendation of the Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy.

I am sure many readers will be astonished to learn that the Ulster Wildlife Trust is content to allow the Irish hare to remain a quarry species.

Permanent legal protection for the Irish hare would signal its vulnerable status and help wider conservation measures.

There is no conservation case for not granting greater legal protection for this beautiful and vulnerable animal.

Badger crime chiefs
by Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports
Sunday Times - 8th March 2009

We congratulate John Mooney on his six-month undercover operation which has exposed the horrors of badger baiting. We have forwarded a copy of the Sunday Times report to the Garda Commissioner and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and urged them to look at Mr Mooney's findings with a view to prosecuting the sick individuals involved in this activity. Buy and Sell have been asked to refuse adverts for Patterdales, the dogs commonly used to attack and kill badgers and foxes.

With our wildlife continuing to be subjected to the most horrendous of abuse, the need for a special animal-crime unit in Ireland has never been clearer. We have renewed our appeal to the Gardai and the Minister for Justice to establish this.

Stop the 'absolute cruelty' of hunts
by Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports
Meath Chronicle, 4th March, 2009

The attack on a cat by a pack of hunting hounds in Moynalty (Meath Chronicle, 25th February) is yet another reminder that hunters pose a deadly threat not only to wildlife but also to pets. The brutal killing of poor, defenceless Hoppy is just the latest in a growing list of fatalities caused during hunts.

This time last month, hounds ran up a private driveway in Wexford, pinned a cat against a garage door and massacred it. The distressed homeowner described it as "absolute cruelty" and has since banned the hunt from her land. Previously in Limerick, locals looked on in horror as a harrier hound savaged a neighbourhood cat to death. In Northern Ireland, an eight-year-old girl was left distraught after hounds piled into a back garden during a hunt and ripped her beloved cat apart. A local paper reported that a group of youngsters "saw the dogs in a complete frenzy and heard the squeals of the cat as she was attacked".

Whether it is to help protect wildlife, livestock, pets or children, we call on Meath Chronicle readers to join our appeal to the office of Agriculture Minister, Brendan Smith (01-6072000), Email: dymphna.keogh@agriculture.gov.ie) to ensure that the forthcoming Animal Health and Welfare Bill makes it an offence to use packs of hounds to terrorise, chase and kill.

Phoenix Park Deer
by Philip Kiernan, Irish Council Against Blood Sports
Comment on Sunday Tribune website - February 24, 2009

Without a hint of irony, an Office of Public Works spokeswoman described the Phoenix Park as "a refuge for wildlife" while simultaneously outlining how 80 deer are being officially shot down within its confines. (Sunday Tribune, February 15, 2009)

We were assured that an OPW sniper blasts the animals to death "as safely and humanely as possible" and that this method is much better than poisoning. There was no mention whatsoever of the humane alternatives that would surely be favoured by the many park visitors who love this famous herd.

Non-violent solutions to what the OPW say is an overpopulation problem could include wildlife immunocontraception (proven effective in other countries) and relocation of some animals to national parks.

As for the "fewer than ten collisions" between vehicles and deer every year, this too could be dealt with compassionately. Increased fencing and signage along park roads, strict enforcement of speed limits and public awareness campaigns to remind motorists that they are travelling through a habitat would all help. Inexpensive wildlife warning devices which attach to the front bumper of vehicles could also be promoted.

Given that the Phoenix Park deer give such pleasure to children and adults and are a treasured emblem of our capital, they deserve to be spared the violence of the OPW's kill-kill approach.

18. Petitions

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/784506550

Ask publicly funded TV channel, "Canal Once" to stop broadcasting bullfights
www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Basta-de-Toros-y-Toreros-en-ONCE-TV

Vote Against Bullfights In Mexico
www.petitiononline.com/55400000/petition.html

We say NO to Northern Ireland Badger Cull
http://www.petitiononline.com/nonicull

Alaska's Dead Wolf Pups Demand Justice
http://go.care2.com/16757164

Please make a donation to ICABS

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports relies entirely on your generosity to continue our campaigning for an end to blood sport cruelty. Please become a supporter of our work today - click on "Shop" at www.banbloodsports.com for more details or send a cheque to ICABS, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Thank you very much.

Let's be friends on Bebo, MySpace, Youtube

Help highlight the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' campaign against hunting and coursing cruelty. Please add us as a top friend on your MySpace, Bebo and Youtube pages and repost our regular bulletins. If you have a website, we would be grateful if you could link to us or display an ICABS banner (For linking options, please click on Links at www.banbloodsports.com and choose Link To Us). Thank you very much.

The addresses are: www.myspace.com/banbloodsports, www.bebo.com/banbloodsports and www.youtube.com/icabs

ICABS Campaign Text Alerts

Subscribe to the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' Campaign Text Alerts service and receive occasional campaign updates to your mobile phone. Text the word GO to our textline on 086-0386617 (this is free service). To unsubscribe at any stage, simply text the word STOP to the same number. Your number will not be passed on to anyone else.

Fund an ICABS campaign postcard

Campaign postcards are an important part of our campaign to highlight cruelty and call for change. Please consider funding an ICABS postcard. The printing costs for a postcard are approximately 150 Euro. ICABS postcards are made available on demand to individuals and animal welfare groups. If you are interested in funding a postcard, please contact us for further details. Thank you.

Tune in to the ICABS Channel

Footage of blood sport cruelty and the humane alternatives can be viewed on the ICABS Channel on Youtube - www.youtube.com/icabs or by clicking on "Videos" at www.banbloodsports.com Please ask your local TD/Senator to view our videos and back a blood sports ban.

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