Animal Voice, Issue 03, 2016
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports

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01. Another season of suffering for Irish hares as more coursing licences issued
02. 3 injured hares released into the wild after coursing
03. Sligo Mayor expresses support for ban on bloodsports
04. "I am against any form of animal cruelty": New Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr
05. Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan defends cruel coursing
06. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Councillors join calls for bloodsports ban
07. USI president joins calls for ban on hare coursing
08. Burned, Starved, Mutilated: Another victim of Ireland's cruel greyhound industry
09. Mick Wallace TD tells Minister that greyhound board is "incompetent"
10. Irish Animal Welfare Party launched in Limerick
11. Backlash leads to cancellation of puppy farming country music singer's UK tour
12. Golf club urged to keep coursers off its course
13. Irish greyhound industry is a "failure" with plummeting attendance
14. Blooding revelations: Greyhound racing banned in NSW but continues in Ireland
15. Not content with blocking coursing ban, Minister now hacking hedges
16. Longford councillor pushing for pine marten cull
17. "I'm not in favour of a ban": Kerry Cllrs Flynn and McCarthy
18. Broadcaster ashamed that TDs rejected bill to ban coursing
19. Clonmel men claim dying horse already dead
20. "The tortoise Government has caught up with the coursing hare"
21. Spain's barbaric Toro de la Vega festival banned
22. Bullrunning and bullfighting removed from “40th birthday ideas” list
23. Top European ticket agent to stop selling bullfight tickets
24. Campaign Quotes
25. Letters to the Editor

01. Another season of suffering for Irish hares as more coursing licences issued

Shame on Minister Heather Humphreys (Fine Gael, Cavan Monaghan) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service for issuing licences for a 2016-17 hare coursing season

The licences allow bloodsports clubs to net thousands of hares from the wild for use as live bait for greyhounds to chase at 87 coursing meetings around Ireland over a 29 week period (6 months and 22 days). See the licences at

The Minister has ignored appeals from Ireland and around the world and not only licensed the cruelty once again but allowed the coursers to start rounding up hares for their bloodsport a day earlier than last year's licence allowed.

All the animals will suffer the fear and stress of being removed from their habitat, transported in boxes, kept in captivity for months and forced to run for their lives in front of dogs. Hares caught and mauled by the dogs will suffer broken bones or other painful injuries. Some will die on the coursing fields while others will later be euthanised due to the severity of their injuries.

It is to Ireland's great shame that hare coursing is permitted to continue with the blessing of the "Arts and Heritage" Minister and the government. Their lack of compassion and refusal to stop a bloodsport that is illegal in all our neighbouring jurisdictions condemns thousands of timid hares to another season of suffering.


Express your disgust to Minister Heather Humphreys and the NPWS about their licensing of another season of hare coursing cruelty.

Email,,,,, Tel: +353 (0)1 631 3802 or +353 (0)1 631 3800 Leave a comment on Facebook - Tweet to Heather Humphreys: @HHumphreysFG

Gerry Leckey Wildlife Licensing Unit National Parks & Wildlife Service Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Ely Place, Dublin 2 Tel: +353 (0)1 888 3289 Email:,

Express your support for a ban on coursing. Sign and share the petitions

Ireland: Ban cruel hare coursing

Save Irish hares from cruel coursing

Ban horrific hare coursing cruelty in Ireland

Stop sponsoring hare coursing in Ireland

Help support our campaign against coursing and hunting. Please make a donation today. Click on the Paypal button at or send a cheque made payable to ICABS to ICABS, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Thank you


02. 3 injured hares released into the wild after coursing

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called for a Garda investigation after learning that three hares were released into the wild in an injured state following a coursing meeting in Liscannor, County Clare.

As revealed in an official National Parks and Wildlife Service document obtained by ICABS under Freedom of Information, the injured hares were released on September 28, 2015 - the day after the 2-day Liscannor coursing meeting.

The NPWS conservation ranger's report stated: "No immediately apparent injuries but 3 had injuries on release." The ranger also noted that one of the hares released had cramp. At the coursing meeting, nine hares were struck by greyhounds with one put down as a result of injuries.

In our complaint to the Gardai, we stated our belief that releasing injured hares into the wild is a breach of the Animal Health & Welfare Act.

The matter has been brought to the attention of Arts and Heritage Minister, Heather Humphreys, who issues licences for the cruel bloodsport.

In an email message, we stated: "Minister, you spoke with great emphasis, during the debate on Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's Private Member's Bill to ban coursing, about the welfare of the hare, and that vets are in attendance at coursing meetings, yet at Liscannor, three hares were released into the wild in an injured state. Where was the vet in this instance and why were these hares not attended to? Releasing a wild animal in an injured state is utterly callous and cruel, leaving them suffering and at greater risk of predator attack. As for the hare with cramp, this is not surprising, given the fact that hares are crammed into boxes and kept in these boxes for maybe long periods, after capture in the wild, being boxed for hare coursing and during transport."

The Minister was reminded that this isn't the first time that injured hares have been callously discarded by coursing clubs into the wild.

Following a coursing meeting in Murrintown, Co. Wexford, in December 2012, a NPWS ranger noted that 2 hares were "in poor condition" on release, and that at another release site, 3 hares had "injuries so serious they couldn’t move and a fourth limped off". He further described the condition of the hares as "ranging from very poor to almost dead". We made a complaint to the Gardai at the time, but this was not followed up due to "insufficient evidence"!!!

We are appealing to Minister Humphreys to stop licensing hare coursing. We have told her that no amount of licence conditions or "strict regulations" will prevent hares from being terrorised when being captured from the wild, running for their lives, hit by greyhounds, mauled, etc. "The presence of a vet will not mitigate that terror for the hare," we told her.


Contact Minister Heather Humphreys now and urge her stop licensing hare coursing

Heather Humphreys, TD
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
23 Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Tel: +353 (0)1 631 3802 or +353 (0)1 631 3800
Leave a comment on Facebook -
Tweet to: @HHumphreysFG


03. Sligo Mayor expresses support for ban on bloodsports

The Mayor of Sligo is the latest politician to express support for a ban on Ireland's cruel bloodsports. In an email to ICABS, Mayor Marie Casserly stated: "I am in favour of a ban on hare coursing and foxhunting."

A big thank you to Mayor Casserly for her support.

Visit our political page to see the views of other politicians around Ireland.

Join us in urging politicians to push for a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing. Find out their contact details at


04. "I am against any form of animal cruelty": New Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr

The new Lord Mayor of Dublin has told ICABS that he is "against any form of animal cruelty". Labour Party representative, Brendan Carr, who was elected mayor at the end of June, also said "I have a long record of opposing any form of animal exploitation".

Mayor Carr has been thanked for expressing opposition to animal cruelty.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Rebecca Moynihan (Labour Party, Dublin City Council) is also against cruelty.

In June of last year, she tweeted: "Yes [add me to list of Labour Party politicians in favour of a ban on bloodsports]. I'm an animal lover."


05. Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan defends cruel coursing

Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan has claimed that hare coursing is "an integral part of the sporting year" and that a ban on the cruel bloodsport would have a "detrimental impact on rural Ireland".

Despite having received an ICABS report which details the hare injuries and deaths caused by coursing, the Dublin Rathdown politician also made the outrageous claim that the monitoring of coursing meetings by National Parks and Wildlife Service staff "has proved effective in ensuring that the welfare of the hare is protected".

Our report details hares hit, mauled, injured and killed by greyhounds on coursing fields around the country. It also includes information on hares injured so severely, they had to be treated or put to sleep by vets. (See report at

Josepha Madigan's statements were made in an email to a constituent ahead of June's Dail Eireann vote on the bill to ban coursing. Deputy Madigan was among the 114 TDs who shamefully voted against the bill and ensured that the suffering of hares continues.


Please join us in urging Josepha Madigan TD to recognise the cruelty of hare coursing and side with the majority who want this barbaric activity outlawed.

Josepha Madigan TD (Dublin Rathdown)
Telephone: +353 (0)1 618 3252
Leave a comment on Facebook:
Tweet: @josephamadigan


06. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Councillors join calls for bloodsports ban

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Councillors Anne Colgan and Karen Furlong have become the latest in a growing number of politicians to express support for an end to Ireland's bloodsports. In an email to the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, Independent councillor Anne Colgan stated: "l favour a ban on hare coursing and fox hunting."

Green Party councillor Karen Furlong said that she is "absolutely in favour of a ban" on fox hunting and hare coursing.

A big thank you to Councillors Colgan and Furlong for their support.

Find out where other Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Councillors stand on this issue:


07. USI president joins calls for ban on hare coursing

The president of the Union of Students in Ireland has joined calls for a ban on cruel hare coursing. In a tweet, Annie Hoey stated: "How anyone can support such a cruel blood sport is utterly beyond me."

The 2016-17 USI President added: "I cannot comprehend how people get joy out of torment. #BanHareCoursing"

Find out more about Annie Hoey and the USI at


08. Burned, Starved, Mutilated: Another victim of Ireland's cruel greyhound industry

We have recently focused on some of the deplorable animal cruelty happening in Clonmel, County Tipperary - an injured horse left to die at the side of a road. a pregnant greyhound brutally killed as she was about to give birth and the town's infamous hare coursing crueltyfest which sees hares running for their lives for the entertainment of a compassionless crowd.

Another instance of appalling animal abuse can be added to the list. Back in January, the Irish Sun reported on an emaciated greyhound found dumped in a ditch in Clonmel. The dog had both ears burned with acid and a bone protruding from a tail that had been hacked off.

"Her ears were burned out so she couldn’t be identified through her ear tattoo," the sickening Irish Sun report outlined. "Traumatised Emily’s tail was also hacked off as she was dumped and left to starve to death."

Racing insiders quoted in the report admitted that Emily’s case is the “tip of the iceberg”, "isn’t an isolated incident" and that “this type of brutality is happening all the time.

“This type of sickening action is the disgusting underbelly of the greyhound world,” another said. “Too many owners and trainers have no sense of a duty of care towards the dogs once it is decided they are no longer of use.”

When contacted by the Irish Sun, the Irish Greyhound Board said it condemned acts of cruelty and had launched an enquiry. Its statement euphemistically referred to burned, emaciacted and mutilated Emily as being "IN A POOR STATE OF HEALTH".

Waterford's Deise Animal Sanctuary which took in rescued Emily stated: “This girl is safe and warm tonight. Maybe she was a champion racer. But all that’s left of her now is a broken abused body. Only love and care from here on out though.”

Read the full Irish Sun report.


Urge Tipperary's TDs and Councillors to "Take Action to STOP Animal Cruelty in Clonmel".,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


09. Mick Wallace TD tells Minister that greyhound board is "incompetent"

Mick Wallace TD has accused the Irish Greyhound Board of incompetence and slammed the Irish Government for being "so tolerant of an incompetent Bord na gCon". The Wexford Independents 4 Change politician also questioned why a report into the doping of greyhounds has still not been published after more than 12 months.

Addressing Andrew Doyle TD (Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture), Mick Wallace stated: "The Minister of State thinks it is okay for Bord na gCon to have a report for 12 months and not publish it. I find that's really interesting. That is an interesting position for the Minister of State to take. Numerous people who own and train greyhounds in Ireland have contacted me in respect of drugs and greyhounds."

In the 13th July Dail exchange, Deputy Wallace also criticised the level of action taken when greyhounds are found to have prohibited substances, referring to a greyhound presented for a sales trial at Thurles greyhound stadium last year with the prohibited substance flunixin:

"The only outcome was that the nature of the substance, flunixin, was noted and a minimum fine of €100 was applied. It is completely nonsensical. The testing cost more than the fine. The disciplinary committee of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain fined an Irish sales agent £2,000 in November 2015 and banned him for three months for the presence of the same prohibited substance. It is little wonder the British are recommending to their owners and trainers not to buy Irish dogs because they are drugged to the ears."

He added: "The trainer, Graham Holland, appeared before the Bord na gCon control committee meeting in May owing to the presence of the prohibited substance in four of his dogs. He was represented by a legal team and he got off scot free because he had a f***ing legal presence. Another guy appeared before the committee over one dog. He did not have legal representation and was fined €100. What can be garnered from that is those with a legal presence will get away with anything, but without it they might pay a little fine."

Despite the animal welfare problems, greyhound doping, falling attendances, declining sponsorship and rising debts, the Irish Government continues to pump millions of euro into the greyhound industry every year. This year, the industry got 14.8 million euro of taxpayers' money - an increase of over a million euro compared to the previous year's figure.


Please sign and share our petition

Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Industry

Given the ongoing fall in attendances at tracks, it is clear that the general public has little interest in greyhound racing. The Irish Government must stop wasting precious funds on this dying industry.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion Street,
Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020
Tweet to: @EndaKennyTD

Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6764735

Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: +353 (0)1-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: +353 (0)1-661 1013.
Leave a comment on Facebook:
Tweet to: @creedcnw

Andrew Doyle TD
Minister of State, Dept of Agriculture


10. Irish Animal Welfare Party launched in Limerick

A new political party - the Irish Animal Welfare Party - has been launched in Limerick. The party's chairperson has said that confidence in the current government is at a low following its recent rejection of a ban on live hare coursing. For more details about the party, please read the Limerick Leader report below.

Limerick gives birth to new political party
Limerick Leader, 2 Aug 2016

A brand new political party focused on preventing animal cruelty was formally established in Limerick City this Monday.

The Irish Animal Welfare Party (IAWP) was founded following a special convention in the Pery Hotel at Glentworth Street.

Among its number are Sheila Fogarty, its chairperson, who has family ties with Bruff, and Marion Fitzgibbon, Limerick Animal Welfare, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee.

Ms Fogarty, a former Green Party local election candidate, said the IAWP would be seeking to run candidates in both local and national elections in Limerick City and Limerick County.

Among the party’s initial goals, she added, is to take on the practice of puppy farming.

“The IAWP estimates this rural, effectively black market economy is worth in the region of €1.5bn over the six year life cycle of 100 breeding bitches across the country.”

Ms Fogarty says following the move to vote down a motion calling for a ban on live hare coursing, the IAWP's confidence in government is at a low.

“We have lost all faith in this government to uphold animal welfare in this country and believe without a proper political structure to address the total disregard expressed by the present government to large scale endemic animal abuse, nothing will ever change,” she said.

Ms Fitzgibbon is delighted there is finally a party which focuses on what she has devoted her life to.

“I feel I have been talking to myself and that wall [about animal cruelty] for the past 25 years. What difference have we made? Everyone is telling me Limerick Animal Welfare has made a huge difference. But animal cruelty is a huge problem, and we are not changing it,” she said.

Ms Fogarty said more than 400 people nationwide have signed up to be a member of the IAWP.

The last national mainstream party launched in Limerick was the Progressive Democrats, founded by Desmond O’Malley in 1985, which went on to have a big impact on national politics.


11. Backlash leads to cancellation of puppy farming country music singer's UK tour

The Mail on Sunday has reported that an online backlash against country music singer and puppy farmer Eamon Jackson has forced a UK tour to be cancelled.

"Cavan country singer and puppy farmer Eamonn Jackson’s planned UK tour has been cancelled by the six venues he had booked to play because of public opposition," the 28th August edition of the newspaper outlined. "Last week, the MoS revealed that Mr Jackson – also known as Eamon Mulvaney – had hundreds of dogs more than his licence permitted at his puppy farm at Redhills Co Cavan. He did not respond to calls."

In a previous report in the Mail on Sunday, Niamh Walsh revealed that hunting dogs were among the dogs being bred at the puppy farm at Redhills Co Cavan.

The MoS report went on to state: "Mr Mulvaney's breeder's licence is limited to 100 dogs but inspectors discovered 500 dogs on his farm. Despite this, [Cavan County Council] allowed him to continue his operation if he reduced the number of dogs to 150 and applied to license the 100 hunting dogs, documents show. However, he has so far only reduced the number of dogs by 89, 54 of which were moved to Northern Ireland."

Responding to the backlash, a post on the Eamon Jackson Facebook page says: "Eamonn is an animal-lover. He has never been convicted of any offence of cruelty to animals in his life."

Among Eamon Mulvaney's upcoming shows are ones with hare coursing supporter Jimmy Buckley - - in Donegal on 15th October and at a "Three Amigos" show in Spain on 19th October.


12. Golf club urged to keep coursers off its course

The Irish Council Against Bloodsports has appealed to a golf club in County Westmeath to stop associating with hare coursers.

According to a local newspaper report, Delvin Castle Golf Club recently hosted a golfing event sponsored by the Westmeath United Coursing club, with the club quoted as saying "we thank the coursing club sincerely for its generosity and continued support".

"It is extremely disappointing that your club turns a blind eye to the suffering caused to hares in coursing and openly embraces those involved in what is one of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals," ICABS stated in an email to the golf club.

The club was told that coursing involves forcefully capturing hares in nets, keeping them in captivity for weeks/months and eventually using them as live lures for greyhounds to chase. The hares suffer fear and stress at being kept in unnatural captivity and being forced to run for their lives. Hares hit by the dogs suffer agonising injuries such as broken bones and dislocated hips. Hares released back to the wild after coursing are at risk of later dying from the stress-related condition known as capture myopathy.

Also highlighted was the suffering caused to hares used by Westmeath United coursing club. According to official National Parks and Wildlife Service reports from rangers who monitored their meetings, hares have been hit, rolled, flipped, tossed and "badly mauled by the dogs". One hare was "sent into a high velocity roll" after being hit by a pursuing greyhound. Another was "hit about five times and mauled on the ground by the dogs" - the ranger who witnessed this noted that the "hare cried with what I presume was distress". At another Westmeath United coursing meeting, a ranger reported that a hare was tossed and badly mauled and that the animal "squealed with distress and/or pain and was...released back into the enclosure without examination by a vet on the day."

In our appeal to Delvin Castle Golf Club to keep coursers off their course, we added: "It reflects badly on your club that hare coursers are being praised for 'generosity' and thanked for their support. It would be much more in the spirit of golfing (a sport which prides itself on fairness and a level playing field) to reject and condemn coursing. Releasing a small delicate hare to be chased by a pair of dogs (each weighing over ten times more) is cruel, mean-spirited and decidedly unsporting."


Join us in urging Delvin Castle Golf Club to stop hosting golf events sponsored by Westmeath United coursers.

Delvin Castle Golf Club,
Delvin, Co. Westmeath
Tel: 044 966 4315
International Tel: +353 449664315

Leave a comment on Facebook:
Tweet to: @delvincastlegc


13. Irish greyhound industry is a "failure" with plummeting attendance

Ireland's greyhound industry is a "failure" with rising debts and plummeting attendance and sponsorship - and the decline looks likely to continue. That's the assessment of the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation (IGOBF), a body representing those involved in greyhound racing and hare coursing.

An IGBOF statement seen by ICABS reveals that a meeting held in June at the Department of Agriculture involved a "detailed discussion on the decline of the industry"...

- Tote at the Irish Greyhound Board has fallen from €48 million in 2007 to €24 million in 2011 to €19.9 million in 2014

- Attendance has fallen from 1.28 million in 2007 to 756,000 in 2011 to 644,000 in 2014

- Sponsorship has fallen from €2.09 million in 2007 to just €879,000 in 2014.

Present at the meeting were Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle and the Department's Assistant Secretary General, Brendan Gleeson.

Among the issues covered was the "worrying" decline in the breeding of greyhounds. Quoted figures from the Irish Coursing Club show that "the number of active owners have declined from 9,826 to 5,940 in the period 2011 to 2015 and in spite of the breeding incentive introduced in April 2016, matings for the first five months of 2016 are 10% less than the same period in 2015."

Also discussed were rising debts at the Irish Greyhound Board and soaring staff costs, said to be €8.3 million in 2014 compared to €7.05 million in 2011.

Questions were raised at the meeting about why there are no figures available for the number of people employed in the greyhound industry - "[The Assistant Secretary General of the Dept of Agriculture] agreed that any industry that was in receipt of Government funding would be obliged to disclose how many people were employed in the particular industry. He could not give any explanation as to why nobody knew how many people worked in the greyhound industry. The Minister thought that this was information that IGB should be able to provide but Mr Gleeson was reluctant."

The IGOBF went on to say that they "don’t expect any figures to be made public as this would only highlight the failure of the industry."

The issue of "illegally registered dogs" also came up for discussion, with fears expressed about legal challenges being launched if illegal dogs were disqualified or if illegal dogs won races - "Cross your fingers and pray that nobody beaten by an illegal dog goes to their solicitor."

In relation to the problem of greyhound doping, those at the meeting were told that the Morris report "would answer all issues". Minister Doyle was questioned about why the IGB "had the report for twelve months but refused to publish it".

The Irish Greyhound Board was also criticised by the IGOBF in relation to finances - "The IGB is devoid of ideas and has now become totally dependent on government funding. The general public perception which will become more negative due to the failure to address welfare issues suggests this money may not always be available."

The statement concludes: "Having spent over an hour in the company of the Minister and Brendan Gleeson, the two most influential people regarding the direction of the Irish greyhound industry, I expect the decline of the industry will continue.

Read the full statement at


14. Blooding revelations: Greyhound racing banned in NSW but continues in Ireland

The recently announced ban on greyhound racing in New South Wales, Australia came about after ABC TV broadcast a news report featuring shocking footage of live animals being used to train greyhounds. A public outcry prompted the government to set up an inquiry which subsequently found "overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting".

Just 18 months after the ABC report aired, New South Wales politicians had voted to completely ban greyhound racing in the state, with Prime Minister Mike Baird declaring that the "widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals" can not be tolerated.

In stark contrast here in Ireland, greyhound racing continues despite it being an open secret that cruel blooding is an integral part of the greyhound racing industry.

A BBC documentary aired 23 years ago featured secretly filmed video footage of greyhounds being blooded with live rabbits at a private training track in Tipperary. Donal McIntyre's 1993 "On The Line: Cradle to Grave" programme outlined that "blooding is a common training technique and in rural areas in Ireland, the use of live lures is an open secret."

"It's widely known that if you give a dog a live animal to kill, on occasion I've heard of cats being used - this makes the dog more keener and makes it perform better," he told viewers. "It's because they've had the taste of blood...The use of live bait - in this case rabbits - is against the law in Ireland and the UK. Blooding is, in fact, an imprisonable offence."

The BBC programme did lead to a judge imposing prison terms but, unlike in Australia, the Irish Government failed to act to outlaw greyhound racing.

Writing in the Irish Independent in January 1994, greyhound scene commentator, John Martin left no doubt that blooding was widespread in Ireland. "Greyhound racing would not continue to exist without blooding [and] it follows that, with a constant greyhound population of close on 30,000, blooding must be widespread," he wrote, adding "Do not expect an admission of that from Bord na gCon, the country's semi-state greyhound racing authority. To concede the point would be to accept that they are the custodians of a sport whose very existence is based on blooding."

Not only did the Irish Government not act to ban greyhound racing following the shocking blooding revelations, it has continued pumping public funds into Bord na gCon - the Irish Greyhound Board - the body with overall control of greyhound racing and hare coursing.

Every year, the IGB receives millions of euro in funding. In 2014, for example, Michael Noonan's budget allowed for €13.6 million (an increase of €2.8 million over the previous year's grant) of taxpayers' cash to be paid out. In the latest budget, while other desperately needy sectors of Irish society saw cuts in grant aid, the greyhound industry received a massive 14.8 million euro.

In a speech at June's “Ban export of Irish greyhounds to China” demonstration in Dublin, greyhound protection campaigner Marion Fitzgibbon spoke out against the "insane grants".

“Every Christmas, the Department of Agriculture are giving about 15 million euro to the greyhound industry,” she told hundreds of gathered protesters. “Under the Horse and Greyhound fund, they got 14.8 million euro last year. They continued to give these huge grants to the greyhound industry right through the recession when children were left without money, the elderly were neglected, everybody was neglected. They continued to give between 11 and 15 million every year. The industry is bankrupt already but they get bailed out every Christmas. If the Department of Agriculture would stop these insane grants to the industry, the industry would die. We wouldn’t have to kill it.”

Watch the full "On The Line: Cradle to Grave" documentary (1993) Watch the ABC TV news report (2015)


15. Not content with blocking coursing ban, Minister now hacking hedges

Lay of the Land: Ministers hack away at upland wildlife habitats
by Fiona O'Connell
Sunday Independent, 31/07/2016

It's the last day of July - though try telling that to the wildlife around this country town, who seem to think it's still spring. If you needed proof that our seasons are out of sync, look no further than our fellow creatures.

Hedgehogs came out of hibernation a month early, causing havoc for their hoglets. Ducklings are still hatching, while birds continue to churn out chicks, constantly visiting the food stations in my backyard in an effort to manage all those miniature mouths. Meanwhile, the bats in the barn disappeared for over a month, before resurfacing last week.

Climate change presents a real challenge for our wildlife - which already has enough to wrestle with, thanks to ever diminishing habitats and the side-effects of modern agricultural practices. All too often the stench of silage overpowers the scent of summer roses.

And people are noticing. I've lost count of the number of locals who complain that farming is destroying our environment, or remark on the decline in flock numbers. Yet our increasingly misnamed Minister for Heritage continues to crush their concerns - as well as the scientifically-based evidence presented by all our major conservation groups. Not content with blocking a ban on hare coursing earlier this summer, she's now hacking away at the hedges that home our wildlife.

Minister Heather Humphreys wants to extend the six-month period for hedge-cutting and burning of uplands - even though a provision allowing cutting to ensure road safety already exists. And despite the fact that Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Irish Wildlife Trust have repeatedly warned that it will devastate wildlife, ringing the death knell for severely endangered species such as the red-listed yellowhammer, linnet and greenfinch birds, the curlew and other breeding waders.

They have already been undermined by agricultural intensification - which also impacts on pollinators, a third of which are threatened with extinction.

A record-breaking 11,000 people signed a petition in just four days to back their united campaign against changing the law to further accommodate farming agendas. Yet as Birdwatch Ireland's Oonagh Duggan said, the "environmental voice and care for nature in Ireland is just not being heard by this Government".

Our decision makers put business in the most short-term and superficial sense first, viewing wildlife as irrelevant wallpaper. The attitude is that the birds, bees and little beasts can just tough it out.

Yet hedgerows are also essential for flood defences, preventing soil erosion and the silting of rivers as well as carbon sequestration. Will business help when we next face floods?

"If this Government is interested in the future of our natural environment and its ability to provide us with essential ecosystem services, it must reverse this ill-judged decision," said Irish Wildlife Trust's Lorraine Bull.

Or face the wrath of the natural world when our wildlife is wiped out.


16. Longford councillor pushing for pine marten cull

The Fine Gael councillor pushing for a cull of Ireland’s rarest mammal is a foxhunting supporter, the Irish Council Against Bloodsports can reveal. In a text message to ICABS in November 2014, Cllr Paraic Brady (Longford County Council) stated: “I am in favour of foxhunting as it keeps the numbers down.”

In a report in the Farming Independent, Cllr Brady made the remarkable claim that a pine marten “killed two of his lambs and injured three others” and that an unidentified woman was bitten by a pine marten.

The Irish Wildlife Trust condemned the report as sensationalist and “truly misinformed” and the councillor’s claims as “alarmist and irresponsible”.

Pointing out that “rumour and hearsay is not fact”, the IWT emphasised that “pine martens do not attack sheep or people.”

According to the Farming Independent report: “although local Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors have informed the National Parks and Wildlife Service about the problem, they say the issue has ‘fallen on deaf ears’…The pine marten is a protected species with no predator. Local representatives are calling for this order to be lifted and for an URGENT CULL.”

The Vincent Wildlife Trust’s “Mammals in Ireland” website describes the pine marten as Ireland’s rarest native mammal species, revealing that “recent abundance estimates suggest that the total population of pine martens in Ireland is approximately 2,700 individuals”.

It subsequently emerged that Cllr Brady is a gun club member whose primary concern is that pine martens are killing pheasants which shooters release to be blasted out of the sky. In a Shannonside Radio interview broadcast in July 2015, Cllr Brady stated: "As a gun club member, we try to keep everything in balance. The pine marten is disturbing the balance of nature. There is no predator that hunts this animal that keeps him culled or keeps him in his place. That's why I've been calling on the higher bodies up there to put this animal on the vermin list for the NARGC so he can be culled and he can be controlled...The pheasants the gun clubs have released - they're cleaning up on them - they've wiped out numerous, numerous pheasants that have been released."


Urge Minister Heather Humphreys and the National Parks and Wildlife Service not to issue pine marten killing licences under any circumstances.

Email:,,,, Tel: +353 (0)1 631 3802 or +353 (0)1 631 3800

Complain to Cllr Brady about his calls for pine martens to be killed.

Cllr Paraic Brady,
11 The Meadows,
Drumlish, Co. Longford.
Tel: 086 1066818


17. "I'm not in favour of a ban": Kerry Cllrs Flynn and McCarthy

Another member of Kerry County Council has shamefully indicated support for cruel bloodsports.

Responding to an enquiry from ICABS in which we asked if he was in favour of a ban on fox hunting and hare coursing, Tralee Councillor Pat McCarthy (Fine Gael) replied: "No I am not in favour."

Fianna Fail Councillor, John Francis Flynn, also recently stated: "I'm not in favour of a ban."

Despite the animal cruelty involved, Councillors McCarthy and Flynn are sadly not the first Kerry Councillors to express support for coursing:

- Last year, Sinn Fein Councillors Robert Beasley and Dianne Nolan placed an advert in a hare coursing booklet, wishing "Best of luck to Listowel Coursing Club".

- As a TD in 2007, Cllr Tom McEllistrim (Fianna Fail) who represents Tralee welcomed the licensing of hare coursing and incredibly described the bloodsport as "thoroughly humane". Responding, ICABS stated: "Deputy McEllistrim clearly doesn't comprehend the meaning of the word humane."

- In February 2014, Cllr Jimmy Moloney (Fianna Fail, Listowel) tweeted "hard luck" to the Irish Coursing Club and the owner of a dog beaten in the Irish Cup hare coursing event.

- Fine Gael Councillor Mike Kennelly follows Listowel hare coursing club on Twitter.

Only one member of Kerry County Council has so far had the decency to speak out against bloodsports. In a text message to ICABS in November 2014, Sam Locke (Independent) stated: "I am totally against this form of so-called sport [hare coursing and fox hunting]"

Kerry TDs who have revealed their support for coursing are Fianna Fail's John Brassil (he called for a hare coursing licence to be issued "at the earliest opportunity") and Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris (said he was supportive of 'traditional rural' pursuits such as hare coursing).

Find out where politicians from all around Ireland stand on bloodsports:


if you are in the Kerry constituency, urge Cllr John Francis Flynn and Cllr Pat McCarthy to reconsider their stance on this animal cruelty issue.

Cllr John Francis Flynn
Tel: 087 711 1512

Cllr Pat McCarthy br>Email: br>Tel: 087 284 5575

Join us in urging politicians to push for a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing. Find out their contact details at

Sign and share our Ban bloodsports in Ireland petition


18. Broadcaster ashamed that TDs rejected bill to ban coursing

Journalist and broadcaster, Barbara Scully, has said she is "ashamed that our Dáil could not bring itself to finally put an end to the appalling barbarity of hare-coursing when it voted down Maureen O'Sullivan's recent bill to ban the horrific practice by a massive 114 votes to 20".

Writing in the Irish Independent, the radio presenter and panellist on TV3’s Midday programme said the result "probably says as much about our system of politics as it does about our compassion for animals".

Read Barbara's full article below...

Our politicians might learn about moral courage by taking better care of animals
by Barbara Scully
Irish Independent, 16/08/2016

I have four cats. I also have three daughters, all of whom are grand young women. Their achievements are all their own but the one thing I think I can claim some credit for is the fact that they are all animal lovers.

They have lived with cats all their lives and have learned from their earliest days that animals have to be respected and cared for. They have learnt that animals are not merely for our entertainment but are part of our family. Not equal, obviously, but an important part of our household nonetheless.

My eldest now lives in Australia, where she is repeating a pattern of cat ownership which runs down the matriarchal line of my family.

The phrase 'cat ownership' makes it sound very pedestrian, whereas in reality being a cat person means that you probably actively sought to adopt one or maybe two cats; but chances are that at least one more has arrived either by his own volition at your door or because your reputation as a cat lover has resulted in someone referring a sad-story cat on to you. And sure what could you do?

However, lest you think that pet ownership is all furry faces and purring kitties or playful puppies, let me assure you, it's not.

It's messy, sometimes frustrating and requires a long-term commitment which is probably greatest with dogs. But sharing our homes with an animal teaches our children so many important lessons. Lessons that stay with them for life. Lessons about love and about loss. Lessons in compassion and companionship. Animals are great non-judgmental listeners.

Research shows that children who come from pet-owning homes are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Showing children how to care for an animal is gender-neutral and a great way for boys to develop their nurturing skills in a way that girls have traditionally done with dolls.

Pet ownership results in less visits to the doctor and it is also good for our mental health. Cats, in particular, can teach us how to relax, they are masters at it. And having a dog gets you outdoors in all weather. But above all, pet ownership teaches our children to have respect for animals.

My girls always understood why we never went to circuses when they were young and some even missed birthday parties due to our boycott.

We have been lucky enough to have gone whale and dolphin watching, both here in Ireland and abroad, and have learnt how unhappy these mammals can be when living in captivity. Apparently, dolphins in the wild live to an average age of 40; in captivity, their average life span is just 10 years. I accept that zoos are now playing an important role in conservation but nothing compares to the thrill of seeing an animal in the wild, whether it's a fox in your garden or a pod of dolphins off the coast.

The Animal Health and Welfare legislation that came into force in 2014 was a massive step forward in Ireland, finally enabling us to make real progress in putting a stop to animal cruelty.

However, I am ashamed that our Dáil could not bring itself to finally put an end to the appalling barbarity of hare-coursing when it voted down Maureen O'Sullivan's recent bill to ban the horrific practice by a massive 114 votes to 20; a result that probably says as much about our system of politics as it does about our compassion for animals. It is vital that we educate the next generation on animal welfare. It's as important as the campaign to reduce global warming.

Animals are part of the delicate ecosystem on which we all depend. It is only through respect for the creatures with whom we share this planet that we can protect them and their habitats.

Figures from the US show that dog ownership is in decline and there could be a similar thing happening in the UK. Various reasons have been cited for this decline, from recession to the rise of 'generation rent', for whom pet ownership can be very difficult.

All of this is bad news for the planet. Compassion learnt at a young age through caring for a pet will make our world safer for all of us. It also might mean that the good folk in Killorglin would rethink making a wild goat spend a weekend on a high-rise platform every August. I am all for a bit of mad craic, but I am fairly confident the unfortunate goat 'king' isn't having such a good time. I am sure he could be replaced with a goat replica without lessening the madness at all.

Getting our politicians, however, to have the moral courage to stop the cruelty of hare-coursing might not be so simple.


19. Clonmel men claim dying horse already dead

A group of men standing over a collapsed horse in Clonmel claimed the animal was dead, despite the creature clearly still breathing and moving his leg.

When a member of ICABS stopped at the distressing scene beside the entrance to a halting site on the N24 road in Clonmel and asked if a vet had been called to attend to the suffering horse, the response was that the animal had "snapped his neck" and was dead.

The Gardai were immediately contacted and a vet was called to the scene. The horse was put to sleep.

It is unclear what happened to this unfortunate white and brown horse or how the neck injury occurred.

The animal may have been tied to a nearby fence when he sustained the injury. On the day, ropes were seen dangling from a fence close to where the horse lay. Images from Google Street (taken in 2011), show a horse tethered to a fence close to the same location - See

ICABS is urging Tipperary County Council to ensure that bye-laws regarding the tying of horses at the sides of roads are enforced.

Were you on the N24 in Clonmel last Thursday August 11th (close to Right Price Tiles)? If you saw what happened to this horse, please get in touch now or contact the Gardai in Clonmel directly - Tel: 026 177 640


20. "The tortoise Government has caught up with the coursing hare"

"The tortoise government has at last caught up with the coursing hare" - the words of an Australian politician welcoming an imminent ban on cruel coursing in the state of New South Wales.

The year was 1953 and under a heading "Government To End Live-hare Coursing", the historic victory for wildlife was highlighted in the Sydney Morning Herald's October 1st edition.

It was 40 years before Irish politicians piled into Dail Eireann to shamefully reject Tony Gregory's 1993 bill to ban coursing and 63 years before they voted down Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan bill.

If the Australian government was made up of tortoises, Dail Eireann is a parliament of spineless slugs refusing to modernise animal welfare laws and consign hare coursing to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

In June, our Minister for Arts and Heritage shamefully stood up in Dail Eireann and stated: "I recommend to the House that this Bill be rejected." A week later, TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Labour crowded into the Dail to vote against the bill and ensure that Irish hares would continue to suffer on coursing fields around the country.

A licence issued by Minister Humphreys and the National Parks and Wildlife Service means thousands of hares are being cruelly caught in nets, pushed into boxes and transferred from the wild to coursing compounds where they will be forced to run for their lives in front of greyhounds.

The Leader of the New South Wales opposition, Mr. V. H. Treatt, said in 1953: "The pressure will be kept up until legislation abolishing this so-called 'sport' is safely on the Statute Book."

The pressure will similarly be kept up here in Ireland until a ban on hare coursing is finally achieved. When it comes, there will be rejoicing but some sadness too that it took more than six decades after New South Wales and that so many hares had to needlessly suffer due to the cowardice of legislators.


21. Spain's barbaric Toro de la Vega festival banned

"The deadly spears of Toro de la Vega are broken!" - the joyous response from Pacma animal rights political party in Spain, after the regional government in Castile and León banned the killing of bulls at town festivals. The move is being celebrated by Spanish campaigners as the beginning of the end for the infamous Toro de la Vega festival in Tordesillas - a barbaric annual event involving chasing a bull and spearing him to death.

Sadly, the move will not stop bullfighting in the region but nonetheless it marks another major milestone in the ongoing campaign to protect all bulls from persecution.

We applaud politicians in Castile and León for their compassionate action. Congratulations to all the campaigners in Spain who have been pushing for years to bring this shameful festival to an end. Thank you to everyone here who supported the efforts by signing petitions, sending protest messages to Spanish authorities, etc.

Read more about the latest developments:

Watch the ICABS video - "5 images that capture the horror of Toro de la Vega"


22. Bullrunning and bullfighting removed from “40th birthday ideas” list

Thank you to luxury travel experiences company, Loyd & Townsend-Rose, for responding positively to an ICABS appeal and removing bullrunning and bullfighting from its list of “40th birthday ideas for celebrating in style”.

In our correspondence to the UK-based company, we highlighted the cruelty and killing involved in bullrunning and bullfighting.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in contacting Loyd & Townsend-Rose. To find out more about their travel experiences, visit


Please sign and share our petitions

Spanish Tourism – Stop promoting cruel bullfighting

Stop selling bullfighting tickets

“Ticketmaster: Stop selling bullfighting tickets” Stop publicising cruel bullfighting events

Fodors Travel Guides: Stop directing tourists to bullrings

If you choose to holiday in a bullfighting country (Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela), please do not visit bullfighting arenas or museums. Avoid purchasing any bullfight-related souvenirs. Join the international campaign against bullfighting. Please register your opposition to this horrific blood sport with the governments and political representatives of bullfighting countries as well as to the local ambassadors.

Contact the Spanish Ambassador to Ireland, or your country of residence, to register opposition to bullfighting. Express your desire to see bullfighting banned throughout all of Spain.

The Spanish Ambassador to Ireland
Embassy of Spain
17A Merlyn Park, Dublin 4.

Tel 1: +353 (0)1 2691640
Tel 2: +353 (0)1 2692597


23. Top European ticket agent to stop selling bullfight tickets

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has thanked Ticmate - one of Europe's leading ticket agents - after it announced its decision to stop selling tickets to bullfighting.

This significant development follows an ICABS appeal last October in which we highlighted the animal cruelty involved in bullfights.

"Thank you for bringing up this question - we have had many fruitful discussions about this within our company and I believe you will be happy to know that we have decided to exclude the sales of tickets to bullfights from our websites," Ticmate founder and CEO, Marcus Moeschlin, stated in an email to ICABS.

Based in Stockholm, Ticmate is active in 40 countries on six continents and has sold over one million tickets to more than 4,000 attractions across the globe.

In a statement posted on the company's website, Mr Moeschlin commented: "Just when the season was about to end, the question came up whether we should keep selling tickets to bullfighting and after giving it a thorough thought, the short answer is 'No, we will no longer sell tickets to bullfighting'. A big thank you for all the feedback both in shape of spontaneous reactions and also to those who got the question 'formally'. In an isolated point of view, I think it is an easy question. It is totally against the Ticmate values to sell tickets to an event which final purpose is to kill an animal..."

A big thumbs up to Ticmate for this compassionate response. Find out more about the company and its ticket offers at

Ticmate joins a growing list of companies which have responded positively to ICABS appeals and removed references to bullfighting or bullrings. These include American Airlines, Aer Lingus, EasyJet, Ryanair Magazine, Jet2holidays, Marriott International, Hilton Hampton, Ebookers, Club Travel, Abbey Travel, Sunways, Low Cost, Travel Department, Cancun Holidays Information Center, Co-op Travel, Ultimate Travel, No Fly Cruising, City Breaks 101, Original Travel, Escape Trips, Charter Travel, NY.T.Roma Hotel, Exclusive GP, Just Resorts,, Burleigh Travel, Abercrombie & Kent, Holiday Transfers, Iglu Cruise, Oliver's Travel's, StagWeb, Joe Walsh Tours, Budget Travel, Osprey Holidays,, Hays Travel, Le Boat, Holiday Hypermarket, Pack Your Bags, USIT Travel, Euroventure, Netflights,, LateDeals, Stagit and Sports Travel Guru.


24. Campaign Quotes

“Ireland does not protect the greyhounds that they breed for commercial racing. We urge the Irish Greyhound Board and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to take responsibility for the greyhounds bred for racing in Ireland and immediately cease all exports of these dogs to countries where there are no animal welfare laws. Perhaps we should not be surprised that greyhounds are being sent abroad with no regard for their lives while they are so mistreated in Ireland itself, and regulations are poorly enforced.” Rita James from CAGED North West, (Campaign Against Greyhound Exploitation and Death), Irish Post, September 8, 2016

"Why do they sell live rabbits outside coursing events in Ireland? Stew?" Tweet from ISPCA CEO, Andrew Kelly. 20 Aug 2016.

"So-called 'hare preserves' maintained by coursing clubs are in fact death traps for hares...their locations are well publicized and easily accessible to illegal coursers and poachers. All the gangs have to do is arrive with dogs...the hares are easy targets for them, sitting or foraging about in clusters. If the coursing clubs did not have these unnatural groups of hares (which they maintain purely for the purpose of baiting them in the next coursing season), the poachers/illegal coursers would not be able to locate and the kill the animals so easily. Coursing clubs, far from assisting with the conservation of hares as they often claim, are in fact unwittingly facilitating the activities of the hare killing gangs. The Irish Hare faces a triple threat from legal coursing, illegal coursing, and the effects of urbanization and modern agricultural methods. Having survived the last Ice Age, it would be sad if cruel and irresponsible human beings were to banish this iconic creature from the countryside." John Fitzgerald, Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, 2nd August 2016.

A Wicklow man has been fined for a number of offences including docking dogs’ tails. Jason Dunne pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 at Bray District Court yesterday. He was ordered to pay a €625 contribution to the ISPCA and €625 in state costs. The case resulted from a visit made to his home by ISPCA chief inspector Conor Dowling and inspector Michael Keane in May 2015, following a tip-off from a website that had flagged an advertisement of puppies for sale with suspected docked tails. from Wicklow man fined €625 for docking dogs' tails,, 14th September 2016.

"The number of race nights has significantly decreased and stadia attendance continues to wane. Animal welfare awareness has increased dramatically, while at the same time, the interest to engage in a time-consuming and costly sport such as greyhound racing does not provide the instant gratification that people now demand. Given a choice, most young people would rather hop on a cheap flight to Ibiza or hunt for Pokemon." Pete the Vet, August 31st 2016.

Registered establishments are breeding scores of puppies in unsuitable conditions before transporting them overseas to be sold at a large profit, said DSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Bird. An estimated 30,000 puppies with a value of between €15-€20 million are being illegally smuggled from Ireland into the UK each year, according to the DSPCA. from "Puppies being ‘mass produced’ in Ireland and sold in UK", Irish Times, August 4th 2016.

"I was talking to a lot of these animal charities that look after them and they were saying that greyhounds form the bulk of the abandoned dogs. They were old racing dogs, they're 'no good' any more. The owners don't want them - they cut the [identity] chip out of their ear and they're abandoned. They [animal shelters] take in more greyhounds than any other breed. Greyhounds actually make very, very good pets. Although you consider them very large, they're not a bad animal to have, even in a small house because they need one burst of activity every single day and then they loll around...A lot of people who don't spay or neuter their animals end up with unwanted pups and they can end up, as we know, being drowned, left at the roadside and left at these charities." Journalist Sinead Ryan, speaking on the Today with Sean O'Rourke Show, RTE Radio 1, 3rd August 2016.

A spokesman for the Party Against the Ill-Treatment of Animals (PACMA) said it was “time to end bullfighting and all other bloody spectacles”. “Bulls feel and they suffer,” said Chelo Martin Pozo, a 39-year-old from Seville who had come to Madrid for the rally. “Bullfights are a national shame and if they represent me, then I am not Spanish ,” she said. Madrid resident Azucena Perez marched outside the parliament holding up a banner saying: “Bullfighting and the Bourbons should be in museums,” referring to the country’s royal family. “I think our laws should prohibit the torture of animals as a form of entertainment,” the 36-year-old said, admitting, however, that her grandfather was a big fan of the corrida. from "Thousands rally in Madrid to demand an end to bullfighting", The Guardian, 11 September 2016.


25. Letters to the Editor

Help raise awareness about Ireland’s animal cruelty issues – write letters to the editors of local and national newspapers to speak out against hare coursing, foxhunting, etc.

Animals still suffering while wealthy have their sport, but once it was people who suffered as they played
Belfast Telegraph, 16 September 2016

As the country - north and south - remembers those who died during the Famine, let us not forget that as this terrible tragedy unfolded, it was fun and games for some.

As documented in A Provocative Study of The Great Irish Famine in the City and County of Cork, fox hunting and hare coursing continued as if there was no famine at all.

While countless lay starving across the land, merciless hunters - their bellies bloated with food and wine - galloped by with about as much sympathy as they held for their doomed quarry.

The Cork Southern Reporter of March 13, 1847 best captured the shocking contrast: "The sound of the huntsman's horn and the yelping pack mingle in terrible discordance with the groans of the dying parent and the cries of children perishing for lack of food."

In A Complete History of the Westmeath Hunt, we are told that: "While the rich and wealthy lived in luxurious country mansions and could indulge in feasting, sport and leisure, their tenants lived in wretched poverty and in danger of starvation."

The hunters' shameful focus on fun, as the poor perished, is further highlighted in A History Of The Kildare Hunt from 1876: "There was misery everywhere. The Kildare Hunt huntsman once told me that his sufferings were great in Kilkenny during the famine years, when he saw starving people and yet had to feed the hounds."

The coursers didn't let the famine get in the way of their recreation, either. A January 1846 Cork Examiner report noted that there were numerous "country people" at a coursing meeting in Waterford and that "they all behaved in the most orderly manner, remained on the hill and showed the greatest delight in the day's sport". Among those cheering was a "Father O'Connor", whose dog, Snowball, was one of the winners.

The bloodsport brigade's lack of compassion and disregard for life continues, with greyhounds still unleashed to terrorise hares and packs of hounds let loose to chase and tear foxes apart.

The day will soon come when this, too, will be viewed as a regrettable part of our history.

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Bear-baiting, badger-baiting and cock-fighting have been banned... time for hare-coursing to follow suit
Belfast Telegraph, 15 September 2016

The tide may be turning against bloodsports in Europe. A few days ago thousands of people marched through the Spanish capital Madrid demanding an end to bullfighting and opinion polls indicate that 58% of Spaniards now want this horrific practice outlawed, with 19% still condoning it.

There was a time when even a whisper of opposition to bullfighting within Spain would have been unthinkable. The image of the matador, with his swishing red cape and shimmering sword, dodging a tortured animal, razer-sharp lances inserted in its bleeding shoulder blades, was almost synonymous with Spanish culture.

Now it is fast becoming a major embarrassment and holidaymakers worldwide are being urged by animal welfare groups to avoid bullfights if they visit Spain.

Not that we can lecture Spaniards about animal cruelty. We have our own legal, State-sanctioned forms of recreational torture.

The new hare-coursing season kicks off at the end of this month. The "sports people" involved won't be risking their lives against a formidable (if substantially weakened) opponent like the matadors. They'll be nice and snug in full winter gear, swigging whiskey or hot soup from flasks and marking their cards as gentle captive hares, their eyes wide with terror, run from blood-crazed dogs.

Matadors are occasionally injured or killed in the ring. You'll find no such contrived heroism on the coursing field. Overfed Hibernian aficionados, wheezing and nursing prominent beer-bellies, haul themselves around the baiting venues, cheering on the greyhounds and conspicuously tut-tutting when a hare is mauled, or pinned to the ground, or tossed into the air like a broken toy - as if the animal's ordeal had nothing to do with them and they had no role in its demise or suffering.

Attempts to defend animal cruelty on cultural grounds are loathsome and should be dismissed out of hand. As civilisation evolves and progresses, I hope that these obscenities posing as "sport" will go the way of bear-baiting, cock-fighting and badger-baiting.

John Fitzgerald
Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports

Terrorising the hares
Sunday Independent, 11/09/2016

Sir - Pope Francis, during the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation, called for environmental destruction to be classified as a sin.

Without getting into any complex theological arguments about the nature of sin or papal infallibility, I do believe he has a point. And given his admiration for the life of St Francis of Assisi, I'd like to think he'd agree with me when I use the word sin to describe the action of 114 TDs last June in voting to allow live hare coursing in Ireland.

By doing so, they said yes to hares being snatched from the Irish countryside to be used as bait for pairs of hyped-up greyhounds that strike, maul, and toss them about at so-called sporting venues.

To my mind, that is ecological and environmental terrorism.

Even hares that escape physically unhurt can die afterwards of stress-related ailments brought on by the contrived chase and the weeks of unnatural captivity preceding it.

If it's not sinful to subject a gentle creature like the hare to a practice where it has to twist and turn and dodge to avoid injury or death, and all for human amusement, then it ought to be… as should the political cowardice that enables hare coursing to survive in Ireland this far into the 21st Century.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny Co. Kilkenny

Bloodsport bill more important than ticketing scandal
Cork Independent, 25th August 2016

Dear Editor,

Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley is continuing to issue warnings about the threat posed by the Olympics ticket scandal to our international reputation and tourism profile.

Deputy Dooley cared little about damage to Ireland’s image when he and his Dail colleagues piled into parliament on 30 June to vote against a bill that sought to criminalise cruel coursing.

This shameful bloodsport, in which large dogs are unleashed to chase after timid hares while a mean-spirited mob bet on the outcome, is undoubtedly souring perception of Ireland.

In a modern tourism market where commitment to environmental and wildlife protection is highly regarded, our legislators’ refusal to ban coursing and other acts of cruelty is off-putting to many potential visitors.

Failte Ireland has long since recognised this. The tourism body is keen to point out that “bloodsports including coursing or hunting are not promoted in any Failte Ireland publications”.

At the next voting opportunity, politicians must realise that supporting a coursing ban may upset a handful of cruel constituents but in the long run, it will do their counties and country a world of good.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against Blood Sports
PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

Exporting greyhounds part of shameful industry
Irish Examiner, May 6th 2016

The export of greyhounds from Ireland to China has shocked animal lovers nationwide and beyond our shores.

Unfortunately, the present plight of unwanted Irish greyhounds is part of the bigger shameful picture of a greyhound industry that encompasses the scandal of live hare coursing, a practise outlawed in many jurisdictions, including Northern Ireland.

It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that an industry that allows and encourages the capture and baiting of terrified live hares is prepared to stand by as greyhounds are despatched to a living hell thousands of miles away.

In coursing, hares are terrorised, mauled, and tossed about like broken toys for the amusement of gamblers and sadists. Wildlife rangers who attend coursing events file reports confirming horrific injuries to hares and video footage shot by animal welfare groups and coursing fans alike and posted on YouTube clearly show the cruelty.

In addition to live hare coursing, there is widespread doping of greyhounds in Ireland, blooding of greyhounds on live cats, rabbits, and birds to enhance their performance, and cruel abandonment of greyhounds that have ended their sporting careers.

Export to China is the latest method of unwanted greyhound disposal, one from which some people profit considerably, heedless of the suffering caused to the dogs they claim to love and care about so much.

John Fitzgerald
Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports

Amidst fears of a backlash, political dithering puts Hamlet in the shade
Irish Examiner, April 26, 2016

On the 400th anniversary of his death, William Shakespeare is rightly celebrated worldwide as possibly the greatest dramatist of all time.

But, in addition to being a keen observer and scrutiniser of human nature, he also alluded in his plays and sonnets to the animal kingdom, and especially wild creatures.

As a campaigner for wildlife protection and conservation, I find those references intriguing.

There’s a major campaign right now for the protection of the honey bee from pesticides, with fierce debates on the issue in national parliaments and assemblies throughout the EU.

Shakespeare paid a memorable tribute to the insect in Henry V:

“For so work the honey-bees, Creatures that by a rule in nature teach, The act of order to a peopled kingdom.”

References to blood sports abound in the playwright’s work. There’s the well-known quote from Act 3, Scene 1 of Julius Caesar: “Cry ‘Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war.”

The slipper was the man who unleashed two greyhounds after a hare in a coursing event. Sadly, he performs the same function today in Ireland, where hare coursing is still legal.

In Act 4, Scene 3 of Love’s Labour Lost, the character Biron says: “…The king he is hunting the deer; I am coursing myself…”

In As You Like It, an onlooker describes the plight of a wounded stag thus: “…The wretched animal heaved forth such groans That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat Almost to bursting, and the big round tears Coursed one another down his innocent nose In piteous chase….”

I recalled that graphic depiction when the Dáil finally got around to banning stag-hunting in 2010 amid tensions between Coalition partners Fianna Fáil and the Greens over tackling the practice.

In his narrative poem, Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare empathises with the plight of a hare that is being chased: “…Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles, How he outruns the wind, and with what care He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles…”

Unfortunately, far too many of our politicians, at both local and national level, are reluctant in 2016 to legislate against blood sports. They fear an electoral backlash from their coursing cousins in the countryside.

Their dithering puts even Hamlet in the shade.

Perhaps, some day, they’ll find the courage to act — hopefully before another 400 years have passed since the death of Shakespeare.

John Fitzgerald
Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Blood sports sully our reputation
Irish Examiner, 18th August 2016

Fianna Fáil Deputy Timmy Dooley was on his high horse on the airwaves this week, pontificating about what he perceives is the minister for sport’s heel dragging on the Olympic ticket affair. He was concerned about Ireland’s image internationally, saying our reputation was being tarnished and sullied by the events, adding that it could damage our tourism product. However, Deputy Timmy Dooley, along with 113 other TDs in Dáil Eireann, put all their concerns about sullying and tarnishing Ireland’s reputation aside when they trooped through the Níl lobby on June 30 last to vote down Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan’s Private Member’s Bill to ban live hare coursing. The minister for sport, Shane Ross, to his great credit, was one of those 20 humane politicians who voted to outlaw this barbaric activity.

Sadly, the bill to ban hare coursing hardly made a blip media-wise, and so those 114 politicians, confident that nobody in the country would notice, voted for the snatching of thousands of timid hares from the wild to be used as live lures before greyhounds at coursing matches.

They ignored the evidence of hares being terrorised and mauled by the muzzled dogs, sustaining severe injuries and dying or having to be put down. They ignored the fact that coursing is banned in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If ever there was an activity to sully and tarnish our country internationally, it has to be the fact that our government sees fit to permit cruel blood sports such as live hare coursing and foxhunting.

Aideen Yourell
IrIsh Council Against Blood Sports
PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

Cub hunting is sickening
Belfast News Letter, 23 August 2016

August is commonly associated with holidays and late summer festivities. But it’s also the month when the cub hunting season reaches a peak.

From the beginning of August foxhunts in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland have been training novice hounds how to kill foxes. This they achieve by bringing them to secluded venues in the countryside in the early hours of the morning. Hunters, some on foot and some on horseback, surround a fox covert known to contain a litter of cubs. When all potential escape routes have been blocked, the young hounds are released into the covert to seek out and kill the cubs.

The startled little creatures are taken unawares and seek desperately to evade the baying pack. Any that seem close to slipping through the circle of hunters are beaten back with whips or long sticks. Once caught above ground each cub has the skin ripped from its bones. No mercy is shown. When all cubs have been eviscerated, the hunt concludes.

The dawn pastoral scene reverts to silence, apart from birdsong, and the footfalls of departing hunters and horses on dewy ground. This gruesome ritual is replicated hundreds of times every year, with quiet patches of the rural landscape transformed into blood-drenched arenas.

In cub hunting, more commonly referred to as “cubbing” or autumn hunting in polite equestrian circles, even the supposed “sporting chance” accorded to foxes in the winter season is denied to the cubs. And fox cubs aren’t the only victims. Any hound that fails to show a killer instinct is culled from the pack so it can’t infect the others with the canine equivalent of cowardice.

Cub hunting represents the sickening and shameful side of an already cruel so-called sport. We should follow the example of England, Scotland and Wales, and ban it forever from the Irish countryside – North AND South.

John Fitzgerald,
Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports, Co Kilkenny

Backing barbarous hare coursing that damages tourism
Irish Independent, 15th August 2016

I'm sure he stays up all night worrying about our sporting reputation abroad. Mr Dooley was one of 114 TDs who voted against a Dáil Bill to abolish live hare coursing in June. I wonder if he and the other politicians who see fit to allow this cruel practice to continue have any concerns about the negative image it presents internationally.

Hare coursing is about as far removed from the Olympic spirit as you can get. Instead of promoting fair competition or equality of opportunity, it involves an unequal contest between pairs of hyped-up greyhounds pitted against the gentlest creature in the Irish countryside.

Since the rejection of the anti-hare coursing bill by our politicians, video footage of hares being mauled, forcibly struck, and tossed into the air like rag dolls for fun at Irish coursing events have spread like wildlife across the globe via social media. Some of the footage shows the terror in the eyes of the innocent creatures as they twist and turn and dodge on mud-sodden or water-logged fields in the depths of winter. And the child-like screeches of the hares can be heard in some instances … a pitiable sobbing that has failed to elicit a response from our political establishment

People everywhere are now seeing what our national parliament endorsed as a legitimate sporting activity: a practice banned in almost all the jurisdictions that once permitted it … a "game" that shuns publicity. The events card at every fixture carries the stark warning: 'All Unauthorized Photography Strictly Prohibited'. People have been beaten up and/or ejected from coursing events for attempting to gather evidence of what goes on.

Hare coursing has the potential to hurt our tourist industry in the long term. Animal welfare groups in several countries are already advising people to boycott Ireland over a "sport" that makes the doping scandals look harmless by comparison.

The politicians who support this mediaeval barbarism should hang their heads in shame.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Killorgin's goat
Sunday Independent, 14th August 2016

Sir - It's that time of year again when the people of Killorgin hoist a terrified wild animal into the air in order to act out some sort of post-pagan ritual, where a goat is king, and his devoted followers celebrate with copious amounts of drink, while the "king" observes the goings-on from his lofty perch yearning, perhaps, for his lost domain, the rocky crags of the wild Kerry countryside.

This bloody nonsense attracts even more animal abuse in the form of the gangs of unscrupulous horse dealers and puppy-farm breeders that put maybe two pups on show, while the rest languish in the oven-like conditions in the boot of the car

It only goes to prove that in this country, animal-welfare laws are non-existent; a country that cares nothing for its animals cares less for its people.

Mike Burke
Sixmilebridge, Co Clare

Caring for strays
21st August 2016

Sir — I was shocked and saddened to read an article under Life Lessons (Living, Sunday Independent, August 14), written by Katy Harrington.

Her article is about her dislike, distrust and hatred of cats.

As a family we have spent many years caring for cats, both pets and strays, and her comments are unwelcome.

Her last line; “I wonder where I can get my hands on some poison?” we believe should have been edited out before publication, for obvious reasons. If she wants to be helpful about the local stray cat population then she should contact her local animal welfare charity who could inform her of the local ‘trap neuter return’ campaign in her area.

Tom Watson and family.
Dublin 4

Lack of outcry over cat 'poison'
28th August 2016

Sir - As a reader of your most widely read Sunday newspaper, I want first of all to congratulate Tom Watson and family from Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, for expressing concerns in 'Caring for Strays' (Letters, Sunday Independent, August 21) over the throw-away remark by your scribe Katy Harrington in the previous week's article, Life Lessons (Living, Sunday Independent, August 14), in which she expressed interest in getting poison to eliminate stray cats or kittens!

Needless to say, many feline pet lovers, as well as myself, were astonished that the remark, which was an obvious attempt to titillate animal cruelty perverts, did not evoke any outcry from SPCA groups or those who claim they strive to prevent cruelty to pets or those discarded by non-caring owners.

This also undoubtedly raises fresh concerns among people who contribute funds towards supporting such groups.

Maire Nic an Rea,
Dundalk, Co Louth

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Keep hunters off your land

Make it known publicly that your land is off-limits to hunters. Place a preservation notice in your local newspaper now. Here is a sample notice that you may wish to use: "Take notice that all my lands at [Insert address(es) of land] are private and preserved day and night. All forms of hunting and shooting are strictly prohibited. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Signed [Insert name(s) of landowner]" For more information, click on Farmers at

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