Newsletter

Animal Voice, Issue 01, 2017
Campaign newsletter of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports

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01. Fox savaged by hounds in Cork: Renewed calls for ban on foxhunting
02. Tourism Ireland urged to stop promoting greyhound racing
03. Shocking coursing cruelty exposed on RTE's Claire Byrne Live
04. Prime Time exposes doping and cruelty in greyhound industry
05. I support coursing: Shameful statement from Kerry TD
06. Hunt hounds force traffic to standstill on busy Cork road
07. Irish greyhounds being sent to Pakistan
08. Fine Gael TDs' greyhound used in cruel coursing
09. Maureen O'Sullivan TD challenges grants to dying greyhound industry
10. 2 Irish MEPs vote against ban on cruel rabbit battery cages
11. New bill aims to restrict export of Irish greyhounds
12. Irish health funding is going to the dogs
13. Dublin Coach's shameful hare coursing service
14. GAA clubs urged to reject foxhunt fundraisers
15. Cork Gaelscoil asked to scrap greyhound racing fundraiser
16. Greyhound trainer banned in Australia now working in Ireland
17. Remembering anti-bloodsports politician Brendan McGahon
18. Order of Malta responds to animal cruelty appeal by blocking ICABS
19. Campaign Quotes
20. Letters to the Editor
21. Petitions - Please sign and share

01. Fox savaged by hounds in Cork: Renewed calls for ban on foxhunting

There are renewed calls for a ban on cruel foxhunting after the emergence of footage showing a pack of hounds savaging a fox in Cork. In the sickening footage, recently uploaded to Instagram by an individual connected to the Cloyne Harriers hunt, hounds can be seen in a frenzied attack on a fox at the end of a hunt. The video is accompanied by the message - "hounds had a good day's hunting today".

Another video shows hounds attacking a fox in a hole - this fox was most likely dug out of its refuge. The appalling scene is accompanied by horn blowing and bloodcurdling shrieks which convey the bloodlust of those involved. The caption beneath the video reads: "He [the fox] is in there somewhere # foxhunting # harriers # terrierwork # patterdale # cubbing". The reference to cubbing suggests that the unfortunate victim was a young fox cub.

A photo posted by the same individual shows two Patterdale terriers along with the message: "Always looking for more work # workingterriers # NoFoxTooDeep # DiggingFoxes # WorkingFoxDogs"

These diabolic scenes are replicated over and over again in the Irish countryside during foxhunting.

In foxunting, foxes are chased to exhaustion and attacked and killed by packs of hounds. Foxes who attempt to escape underground are dug out with shovels and spades and thrown to the hounds to pull asunder. The suffering of foxes terrorised and killed in foxhunting is unimagineable.

The horrendous cruelty inflicted on foxes in foxhunting is currently legal thanks to an exemption shamefully included in the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 by the then Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney. In the "Prohibition on animal cruelty" section of the act, it is stated: "Nothing in this section applies in relation to anything which occurs in the ordinary course of lawfully hunting an animal, unless the animal is released in an injured, mutilated or exhausted condition". Without this exemption, those involved in foxhunting would face criminal prosecution for cruelty.

The time has come for the Irish Government to finally outlaw this disgusting bloodsport. It has long been banned in England, Scotland and Wales and a ban here in Ireland is long overdue.

 ACTION ALERTS 

Sign our "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland" petition
https://www.change.org/petitions/ban-blood-sports-in-ireland
Sign Now

Please join us in demanding the removal from the Animal Health and Welfare Act of an exemption for foxhunting. Contact the government and all your local TDs and tell them the time is now for a ban on foxhunting.

Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Email: michael.creed@oir.ie
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd
Tweet to: @creedcnw

Contact the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald and urge them to ban fox hunting.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion Street,
Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6194020
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie
Tweet to: @EndaKennyTD

An Tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald
Department Of Justice
51 St. Stephen's Green
Dublin 2.
Tel: +353 1 602-8202 or +353 1 457 7712
Email: frances.fitzgerald@oir.ie
Tweet to: @FitzgeraldFrncs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frances-Fitzgerald/302584593224671

Appeal to all Irish politicians

Please join us in telling the Irish Government that it is now time to replace foxhunting with the humane alternative - drag hunting.

Drag hunting sees the hounds chasing an artificial lure instead of a live animal. This form of "hunting" is already practised successfully by a few groups in Ireland. In a modern and civilised country like Ireland, there should be no place for foxhunting, particularly when a transition to drag hunting would be simple.

Please contact all your local politicians and ask them to express their opposition to this blood sport. Encourage your friends, family and workmates to contact them too.

Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=mem

Write to your TDs at: Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.

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02. Tourism Ireland urged to stop promoting greyhound racing

Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland are being urged to stop promoting greyhound racing as a tourist attraction. In the Irish Greyhound Board's latest annual report, it is stated: "Bord na gCon worked very closely with the domestic and international teams from Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland in promoting a night at the dogs..."

Responding to a recent complaint about the promotion, Failte Ireland stated: "Failte Ireland use greyhound stadiums as part of promoting Ireland to our international visitors and they have enjoyed this immensely. This is a great way of promoting the Irish culture to tourists coming to Ireland..."

ICABS has sent the tourism bodies a link to the recent RTE Prime Time programme in which the chairperson of Limerick Animal Welfare, Marion Fitzgibbon stated: "We believe there are probably 10,000 greyhounds put to sleep every year. They can be killed in all sorts of fashions. We've had so many instances of finding them shot, ears cut off, drowned."

There is growing opposition to greyhound racing in Europe, America, Australia and all around the world. The greyhound industry is bad for Ireland's image and should not be promoted by our national tourism bodies. Ireland has so many wonderful tourist attractions - there is no need for Tourism Ireland or Failte Ireland to resort to using greyhound racing as a selling point.

 ACTION ALERTS 

Join us in appealing to Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland to consider the cruelty inherent in the greyhound industry and stop promoting greyhound racing.

Tourism Ireland
Email: corporate.dublin@tourismireland.com
Tel: +353 1 476 3400
Tweet to @TourismIreland

Fáilte Ireland
Email: customersupport@failteireland.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1 8847700
Tweet to @failte_ireland

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03. Shocking coursing cruelty exposed on RTE's Claire Byrne Live

"There's no place in Ireland for treating a wild animal like this" - Shocking hare mauling footage shown on RTE's 'Claire Byrne Live' reveals why hare coursing must be finally banned in Ireland.

Watch the programme at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUkFXFSYn7I

 ACTION ALERT 

Sign and share petitions

Ireland: Ban Cruel Hare Coursing
https://www.change.org/p/ireland-ban-cruel-hare-coursing

Save Irish hares from cruel coursing
https://www.change.org/p/save-irish-hares-from-cruel-coursing

Email "BAN HARE COURSING NOW" TO Heather.Humphreys@oireachtas.ie, ministers.office@ahg.gov.ie, taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, wildlifelicence@ahg.gov.ie, Gerry.Leckey@ahg.gov.ie, michael.creed@oir.ie

Leave a comment on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/heather.humphreysfg
https://www.facebook.com/endakennyofficial/
https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd/

Tel: +353 (0)1-631 3802 or (01) 631 3800 (Heather Humphreys)
Tel: +353 (0)1-6194020 (Enda Kenny)
Tel: +353 (0)1-607 2000 (Michael Creed)

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04. Prime Time exposes doping and cruelty in greyhound industry

Shocking animal cruelty, the doping of dogs, the use of live animals to train greyhounds (blooding), the killing of thousands of greyhounds every year ("shot, ears cut off, brutalised, drowned"). Watch Sharon Ni Bheolain's damning Prime Time report (9th March) on the cruel Irish greyhound industry - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIUkAGa708s&t=10s

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05. I support coursing: Shameful statement from Kerry TD

County Kerry politician, Michael Healy-Rae, has shamefully expressed support for animal cruelty.

The Independent TD who once claimed "there's nothing that upsets me more than mistreatment of animals", said in a tweet: "I am supportive of the coursing industry and the good work that they have done."

Deputy Healy-Rae is clearly disregarding the appalling suffering involved in coursing, with hares sustaining painful injuries and dying every coursing season. All hares captured from the wild for coursing endure the fear and stress of being netted, thrown in boxes, kept in captivity, manhandled and eventually forced to run for their lives from pairs of dogs.

"If you saw footage broadcast on the recent Claire Byrne Live programme, you will know the horror of a hare mauling," ICABS stated in an email to Deputy Healy Rae today. "We appeal to you to show compassion for the Irish Hare, recognise the cruelty involved in coursing and reconsider your position on this issue."

Michael Healy-Rae's shameful statement in support of animal cruelty comes after his vote last summer against Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's bill which sought to ban coursing.

He is also involved in shooting wildlife. A caption on an online photo showing Michael Healy-Rae holding a gun states "Michael has a gun licence for his rifle that allows him to shoot pheasants and foxes."

According to a 2013 Irish Examiner report, he holds certificates for three different guns and in the past has "threatened to take out a licence to hunt 'marauding' deer."

Asked in an interview with RSVP magazine what he does to unwind, he replied "I enjoy shooting."

Does your local TDs support animal cruelty or favour a ban. Find out in our political views page.

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06. Hunt hounds force traffic to standstill on busy Cork road

Traffic was forced to a standstill in Cork after a pack of hunting hounds ran out on to a busy road in front of oncoming vehicles.

Video footage taken during a St Stephen's Day hunt shows the dogs running back and forth across the 100 kilometre-per-hour stretch of the N20 Cork-Mallow road and narrowly avoiding being hit. https://www.facebook.com/banbloodsports/videos/1177376172377939/

ICABS understands that one dog was subsequently struck and killed and that Gardai attended the scene.

This is the latest example of hunts coming on to public roads and posing danger to motorists. Along with the appalling animal cruelty involved in hunting, this threat to public safety presents yet another reason for the government to urgently ban this bloodsport.

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07. Irish greyhounds now being exported to Pakistan

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on the government to take urgent action to stop the export of greyhounds to Pakistan, a country where horrendous animal cruelty takes place.

In our call to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Taoiseach Enda Kenny to act, we have highlighted the dire situation for animals in the Asian country.

For example, one of the individuals now in possession of some of the growing number of Irish greyhounds being exported to Pakistan, is involved in brutal pig fighting.

Stomach-churning video footage, posted on Facebook, shows a tethered pig suffering a sustained and brutal attack from two of his hunting dogs. With his leg tied to a post, the pig is unable to escape as the dogs bite into his underbelly and attempt to chew off his ears. A crowd of bloodsport enthusiasts looks on as the doomed creature's pain intensifies.

The footage is from one of a series of shocking hunting and coursing videos uploaded to the Facebook page of a Dr Aftab Niazi. The caption on the pig attack video confirms that the "dogs belong to Dr Aftab Niazi". In another video, a fatally injured pig is seen being dragged away past the bloodied remains of a dog which Niazi says is his - "my brave dog fight till the end".

Dr Aftab Niazi is now the owner of an Irish greyhound named Heavens Quest. Before ending up in Pakistan, Heavens Quest was used in greyhound racing in Clonmel and Kilkenny. According to the Irish Greyhound Board website, he was entered into 11 races between February and October 2014.

Responding to a Dail question from Paul Murphy TD in January, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed claimed that "there is no record at this point of direct exports [of greyhounds] to Pakistan".

Minister Creed clearly didn't look too hard. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports easily uncovered a document showing a change in ownership for Heavens Quest. An Irish Coursing Club Greyhound Stud Book identity booklet (photographs of which appear online) shows that the ownership of Heavens Quest was transferred from a Joe O'Neill in Newbridge, County Kildare to "new owner" Aftab Niazi in Mianwali, Pakistan.

Niazi is also the owner of other Irish greyhounds, including Glenvale Lily, Mineola Sprint and Kierans Hollie.

He describes Glenvale Lily - whose last race here was in Mullingar in 2012 - as "the queen of coursing [and racing] and the best brood birch at present in Pakistan", adding that "sadly her career ended up with severe injury to her hind leg, intact fracture of her hind leg." Mineola Sprint last raced at Longford greyhound track in 2012. A listing for Kierans Hollie on the Irish Coursing Club website shows that her previous owners were Der Dineen and Donie Galvin in Cork.

The Irish greyhounds are being sent over 6,000 km to Pakistan for use in racing, coursing and for breeding. The route the dogs are being taken, whether directly from Ireland or from the UK or another country, is currently unclear. So too is the method of transport.

Crafty Barrazo is another Irish greyhound in Pakistan. Records show that the breeder of Crafty Barrazo is Irish Coursing Club president Brian Divilly. The Irish Greyhound Board website lists the owner as the Divilly Family Syndicate. Video footage shows this greyhound chasing a rabbit during a coursing meeting in Pakistan. Alongside him is Lixnaw Eoin (last raced at Tralee greyhound track in 2013).

Another individual in Pakistan who now owns Irish greyhounds is Sher Afgan of the Challianwala Kennel. Sher Afgan was present at the Irish Cup hare coursing meeting last weekend where he was photographed alongside Brian Divilly. Among the Irish dogs at his kennels is Portane All In who is being used for breeding. Before being exported to Pakistan, he was used for hare coursing in Limerick, Tipperary and Laois.

According to Cork Dog Action Welfare Group, the Irish Greyhound Board held an international sale at Shelbourne Park last August where 117 greyhounds went on sale. "Buyers from around the world attended these sales, so once again some of our Irish greyhounds may end in countries such as China, Pakistan & Spain, all recognised for their cruel treatment of animals," the group said.

The CAGED Nationwide campaign adds: "Irish greyhounds 'bred for the racing industry' are being forced to travel thousands of miles to countries where there are no welfare laws. Around 80 per cent of dogs are sent to the UK from Ireland, but many later transported to countries like Pakistan to be used for racing, of where there are no animal welfare laws whatsoever to protect them from suffering and death."

Last month Kerry Elliman of Birmingham Greyhound Protection condemned the export of greyhound to countries "with no animal welfare laws".

Greyhounds sent to Pakistan "will either die at a very young age once they can no longer race or will be bred from," she said, adding that a contact in Pakistan told her that it's "dreadful for the dogs there, it's always mega hot, there's no animal protection laws, no rehoming programs and not many vets and the ones that are out there are hours away."

He told her he has seen greyhounds starved to death at the end of their career.

 ACTION ALERT 

Join us in urging Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to act NOW to stop the export of Irish greyhounds to Pakistan.

Email "Stop the export of Irish greyhounds to Pakistan" to taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, frances.fitzgerald@oir.ie, michael.creed@oir.ie

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

Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Email: michael.creed@oir.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: +353 (0)1-661 1013.
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd
Tweet to: @creedcnw

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08. Fine Gael TDs' greyhound used in cruel coursing

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Finance Minister Michael Noonan are owners of a greyhound used in the cruel bloodsport of hare coursing, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports can reveal.

As highlighted last year, Ministers Creed and Noonan were part of a 14-man syndicate of Fine Gael politicians who bought greyhound "Swift Starlet". It has emerged that the dog was not only used in greyhound racing but also in coursing.

Such was the exploitation of the dog that on one occasion, she was used for hare coursing in the afternoon and for greyhound racing later the same day. Information uncovered by ICABS reveals that Swift Starlet was entered into the "All Age Bitch Stake" at Gorey coursing meeting on Saturday 26th October 2013. Afterwards she was transported 190 km to race at Dundalk greyhound stadium. Records show that she finished in 4th position in the "Ghoulish & Ghastly A3 525", with winnings of €0.00.

The Irish Coursing Club website lists Swift Starlet as being owned by the Oir Syndicate - which, according to the Irish Examiner, is made up of 14 Fine Gael TDs including the current Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Among the other TDs in the syndicate are pro-coursing TDs Joe Carey (Clare), Brendan Griffin (Kerry) and then Environment Minister Phil Hogan as well as current Senator Jerry Buttimer who recently defended massive government subsidies to the greyhound industry.

The Irish Greyhound Board website shows that Swift Starlet was entered into 65 races between July 2012 and August 2014 and won 7. The total prize money is listed at €2,179. That's €1,321 less than the €3,500 paid by the politicians to purchase her.

The last record of Swift Starlet is at Mullingar greyhound track on 30th August 2014 where she came last. What happened to her next? Emails and tweets asking if she is alive or dead have been sent to Ministers Creed and Noonan, and to the other co-owners of the dog, but all have gone unanswered.

In the year that Finance Minister Noonan joined "The Oir" greyhound syndicate, €11.3 million was paid out by the government to the Irish Greyhound Board. In December 2016, Minister Noonan approved the latest grant of €16 million, bringing the total to around a quarter of a billion since 2001. Minister Creed continues to resist an end to the use of public money to prop up a dying industry with inherent cruelty, massive debts, declining sponsorship and falling attendance. Responding to calls for the funding to be scrapped, he has said: "the greyhound industry is part of the social fabric of our country...I have no plans to reduce funding of the sector."

 ACTION ALERTS 

Join us in asking Minister Creed, Minister Noonan and the other Fine Gael policians what happened to Swift Starlet.

Michael Noonan (Limerick City, Fine Gael)
Minister for Finance
Email: michael.noonan@oireachtas.ie
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6764735

Michael Creed TD (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
Minister for Agriculture
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Email: michael.creed@oir.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd
Tweet to @creedcnw

Joe Carey TD (Clare, Fine Gael)
Email: joe.carey@oireachtas.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-6183337
Tweet to @joecareytd
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Carey/199442566789462

Brendan Griffin TD (Kerry County, Fine Gael)
Email Brendan.Griffin@oireachtas.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-6184480
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/brendan.griffin.5074
Tweet to @BGriffinTD

Senator Jerry Buttimer
Email: jerry.buttimer@oireachtas.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1 6183380
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jerry.buttimer.9
Tweet to @jerrybuttimer

Phil Hogan
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
Email: phil.hogan@ec.europa.eu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhilHoganEU
Tweet to @PhilHoganEU

Please sign and share our petition
Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Industry
https://www.change.org/p/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. Tell the Irish Government to stop wasting precious funds on this dying industry. Email "Stop funding the dying greyhound industry" to taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, michael.noonan@oireachtas.ie, michael.creed@oir.ie

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09. Maureen O'Sullivan TD challenges grants to dying greyhound industry

Maureen O'Sullivan TD has questioned the Minister for Agriculture about the government's massive funding of the greyhound industry, particularly in light of a huge 50 per cent drop in attendance at tracks as well as decreases in the number of race meetings and owners of racing greyhounds and a major 58 per cent fall in sponsorship - all signalling a rejection of greyhound racing by the Irish public.

Despite this, the government has handed over around a quarter of a billion euro of taxpayers' money to greyhound racing since 2001, including €16 million for 2017.

Responding to Deputy O'Sullivan's challenge, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle TD pointed to employment in the industry as a justification for the funding. However, his figure of 10,000 jobs was dismissed as being at least seven years out of date. He also praised the industry for being "very export-orientated with over 75 per cent of greyhounds now running in the UK being Irish bred."

Despite acknowledging problems in the industry, Minister of State Doyle dismissed the idea of ending funding, saying "I think if we just simply say that because it's declining, we should pull the money on it, is contrary to most principles that if something is in need of assistance, we should continue to support it so that in time it can actually operate independently."

In relation to hare coursing, he said that he did not know the latest figures for the amount of money received by the Irish Coursing Club from the Irish Greyhound Board in terms of loans and payments. As pointed out by Deputy O'Sullivan, in 2015 it was revealed that the ICC had paid over €100,000 to the coursers (for DNA sampling services and advertising in its Sporting Press subsidiary.

Andrew Doyle attempted to suggest that animal welfare "is covered by legislation...which protects the welfare of all animals", citing the Animal Health and Protection Act. Sadly, he appears to be unaware that this legislation does not protect hares from suffering in coursing - it actually provides an exemption for coursing, without which those involved would be guilty of an offence of cruelty.

He went on to shamefully defend hare coursing as a tradition and suggested that those participating in the cruel activity shouldn't be judged.

"Coursing is, and has been, part of the tradition," he said. "It's not everybody's cup of tea but it is and has been [part of the tradition]. It's easy to sit up here and judge people. People up here are not always maybe doing things that are compatible with country life but I don't hear them quite so judgemental."

Questions about the publication of the Irish Greyhound Board's 2015 accounts and the issue of abandoned greyhounds went unanswered.

Thank you to Maureen O'Sullivan TD for highlighting the ongoing cruelty to hares in coursing and challenging the government on its unacceptable funding of the dying greyhound industry.

 ACTION ALERT 

Please join us as we appeal to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Finance Minister Michael Noonan to stop squandering scarce public funds on gambling industries and to redirect the money to more deserving causes.

Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance
Email: michael.noonan@oireachtas.ie
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6764735

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

Michael Creed TD
Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Email: michael.creed@oir.ie
Tel: +353 (0)1-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: +353 (0)1-661 1013.
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd
Tweet to: @creedcnw

Andrew Doyle TD
Minister of State, Dept of Agriculture
Email: andrew.doyle@oireachtas.ie

Contact your TDs and urge them to stop using scarce public money to fund gambling industries. Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=mem Write to your TDs at: Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: +353 (0)1-618 3000 or 1890 337 889. Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.

Please sign and share the petitions
Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Industry
https://www.change.org/p/irish-government-stop-giving-millions-of-euro-to-cruel-greyhound-industry

Stop sponsoring cruel greyhound racing
https://www.change.org/p/stop-sponsoring-cruel-greyhound-racing

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10. 2 Irish MEPs vote against ban on cruel rabbit battery cages

Two Irish MEPs have shamefully voted against a resolution seeking to end the cruel caging of millions of rabbits across Europe - a practice shown to cause "extreme suffering".

The "Minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits" resolution, presented by German MEP Stefan Eck, was passed with majority support in the European Parliament on Tuesday but among those who chose to reject it were two Irish MEPs - Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly of the Christian Democrats.

In voting against the resolution, Fine Gael representatives Clune and Kelly have clearly disregarded the abhorrent cruelty of the rabbit meat industry.

According to Animal Equality, one of the groups campaigning for a Europe-wide ban on battery cages for rabbits: "Every year, 320 million rabbits are slaughtered for meat in the European Union - and there are currently no legal provisions to protect them. This means that 99% of farmed rabbits are kept in small wire cages with little more space than an A4 sheet of paper."

Animal Equality reported that it has "repeatedly documented the terrible suffering of rabbits in battery cages in Spain and Italy – where 60% of all rabbit farms in the EU are located"

"In Spain alone we have investigated 70 rabbit farms and 4 slaughterhouses and in each and every single one we have found evidence of extreme cruelty," the groups says. "Our investigators have seen rabbits with open wounds, painful eye infections and even rabbits whose ears have been bitten off by their stressed companions. Due to the crowded and unnatural conditions, up to 30% of farmed rabbits die or are killed even before arriving at the slaughterhouse." Video footage exposing some of the cruelty can be viewed at http://www.animalequality.net/node/944 (Warning: Graphic content).

Thank you to the Irish MEPs who voted in favour of the resolution. They were Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy, Nessa Childers, Luke Ming Flanagan and Marian Harkin. A special thanks to Brian Hayes (a Fine Gael/Christian Democrats colleague of Clune and Kelly) who rebelled and also voted in favour. The Irish MEPs who did not vote were Brian Crowley, Mairead Mcguinness and Liadh Ní Riada.

Compared to 2 out of 11 Irish MEPs voting against the resolution, in the UK just 1 out of 73 voted against it (Independent MEP Janice Atkinson). The overall result of the vote was 410 in favour, 205 against and 59 abstentions.

Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly have a disgraceful record when it comes to issues of animal cruelty. In 2014, they refused to support a European Parliament Budget Amendment which sought to end massive subsidies to barbaric bullfighting, both choosing to abstain in the vote. A year later, they voted against a similar amendment despite being well aware of the appalling cruelty in bullfighting. As a TD in 2010, Deirdre Clune voted against the Bill which banned staghunting with packs of dogs.

 ACTION ALERT 

Send a thank you message to the MEPs who supported the resolution lynn.boylan@ep.europa.eu, matt.carthy@ep.europa.eu, nessa.childers@ep.europa.eu, lukeming.flanagan@ep.europa.eu, marian.harkin@ep.europa.eu, brian.hayes@ep.europa.eu

Complain to MEPs Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly about their shameful voting record on animal cruelty issues.

Deirdre Clune MEP
Email: deirdre.clune@europarl.europa.eu
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deirdreclunemep
Tweet to @deirdreclunemep
Telephone: 0032 228 45292 OR 1890 989 533

Sean Kelly, MEP
Email: sean.kelly@europarl.europa.eu
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sean.kellymep
Tweet to @SeanKellyMEP
Telephone: 085 1255263 OR 061-468788

Fine Gael
51 Upper Mount Street
Dublin 2
Tel: 01 619 8444
Email: finegael@finegael.ie
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fine.gael

RESULTS OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT VOTE

Voted in favour 410
Voted against 205
Abstentions 59

How Irish MEPs voted
Voted in favour 6 (Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy, Nessa Childers, Luke Ming Flanagan, Marian Harkin, Brian Hayes)
Voted against 2 (Deirdre Clune, Seán Kelly)
Did not vote 3 (Brian Crowley, Mairead Mcguinness, Liadh Ní Riada)

Find out more about how MEPs voted at http://www.votewatch.eu/en/term8-minimum-standards-for-the-protection-of-farm-rabbits-motion-for-resolution-vote-agri-committee-resol.html

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11. New bill aims to restrict export of Irish greyhounds

Independent Dublin Bay North politician, Tommy Broughan TD, has introduced a bill which aims to restrict the export of Irish greyhounds.

The Welfare of Greyhounds (Amendment) Bill 2017 seeks to "provide for the control of export of greyhounds and for the publication of a white list to which the export of greyhounds under licence would only be permissible."

The Bill would make it an offence to export greyhounds to countries not on the white list.

In a statement, Deputy Broughan referred to the public outcry over the export of Irish greyhounds to China and the Irish Greyhound Board's subsequent "advice" to greyhound owners to "only export to destinations that provide the expected levels of greyhound care and management as defined in the Code of Practice". This mere advice isn't sufficient to stop such exports, he stressed.

"The Bill I am introducing with the strong support of Dogs’ Trust would put this requirement on a statutory footing," he stated. "When such a Code already exists why would anyone not support a Bill that will just enshrine such standards into law? This is a simple step that can be taken to protect greyhounds born in Ireland"

Watch Tommy Broughan's Dail speech at https://www.facebook.com/banbloodsports/videos/1259135687535320/

or read a transcript at https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2017-03-21a.144

 ACTION ALERTS 

Urge all your local TDs to support this legislation. Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=mem

Write to your TDs at: Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889. Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.

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12. Irish health funding is going to the dogs

In a letter to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, ICABS supporter Maire outlines why the allocation of millions in funding to the greyhound industry is a grave error and appeals to the Minister to give the money to the under-funded health service instead...

Dear Minister, Since 2001, the annual allocation to the greyhound industry in the Irish budget has risen steadily. For budget 2017 you have agreed to €16 million. That brings the total amount given since 2001 to quarter of a billion euro. This is not acceptable for numerous reasons:

1. As highlighted by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS), the interest in greyhound racing is waning and attendance is plummeting. There has been a 50% drop in attendance from 2007 to 2014. There is no economic or social need to pump state funds into the greyhound sector.

2. Greyhound racing is a cruel, voyeuristic, spectator sport, reminiscent of Ancient Roman spectacle. It is very well known that the dogs used are abused and cruelly treated when they are no longer 'useful'. Where hare coursing is involved, this is also extremely inhumane for the hares, causing psychological fear and physical harm. This is an undignified sport in a developed western country.

3. The fact that greyhound racing and hare coursing lead to regular gambling is also harmful to Irish society as a whole. While the betting industry is not being directly addressed in this letter, it must be clear after hundreds of years that betting culture is harmful, as it counters responsible and resourceful management of money which could otherwise be used to build up and enhance a person’s own and family life. It promotes risky behaviour which often ruins lives and families and is therefore not a practice that should be promoted by tax-payer-funded state money.

4. Every day we hear about homelessness, the utterly inadequate health system, crime, violence, anti-social behaviour and lack of social services for children and youth, to name a few. These are all problems not addressed at all well by the state for decades since before the Celtic Tiger. Yet there is enough money for a cruel spectator sport which involves no skill, no productivity and no benefit to the needy.

5. Because of need of funding, worthwhile causes which work hard to make people’s lives better, have risen as charities, which should not be charities, but should be fully supported by the state. Why should we, as tax-payers, give money to hospitals to fund their services? Why should they be driven to approach us directly in the street or through an advertisement, begging for money, when the state seemingly has enough money to help them, but decides not to, but gives this money instead to groups who promote, directly and indirectly, abuse and risky behaviour?

This summer, for example, we received a letter from ChildVision, Ireland’s only school and pre-school for blind children with multiple disabilities. Many of the children here are turned away because of a long waiting list, currently numbering 40 children. €4 million would diminish this list greatly, if the state gave them this money. They have to pay two full salaries from fundraising. The school needs new buildings. The children require special chairs and sensory toys. ChildVision’s government grant has been cut but the greyhound industry has received:

€16 million for 2017, €14.8 million in 2016, €13.6 million in 2015, €10.4 million in 2014, €11.0 million in 2013, €11.3 million in 2012, €11.5 million in 2011, €11.8 million in 2010, €13.6 million in 2009

There is no comparison between the two. It is unbelievable to see where the government’s priorities are.

In response to some reasons given by Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, for funding Irish greyhound racing are the following counter-arguments:

1. Minister Creed has been quoted as saying that greyhound racing is 'part of the social fabric of our country'. This is a ridiculous statement. Slave labour, unquestioned sexism and capital punishment all used to be part of the 'social fabric' of this country until it was done away with.

2. The argument that the greyhound industry provides jobs, which is also an argument made by Minister Creed, can also not be credibly supported. If jobs are to be created, employ more nurses, doctors, teachers, gardaí and street cleaners as these are people who educate, heal and keep law and order, thereby actually helping Irish society. These are also all people from sectors severely understaffed, so there are plenty of jobs for them. There are also plenty of people qualified and competent for these jobs, but who are unemployed.

3. The Minister has also said that charitable organisations raise money through greyhound racing events, which makes greyhound racing worthwhile. There are certainly much more productive and creative activities that would raise money, such as karaoke evenings, dinner parties, carol singing, cake sales and concerts/gigs, events which already exist for fundraising purposes, are more socially engaging, involve talent and creativity, and do not involve animal misuse. If sporting events are to be used for fundraising, a sponsored local or regional football, hurling or rugby game could equally be used, as this would also help people develop skills. There is no reason it would have to be greyhound racing. There are no skills this would develop in any individual as it is dogs racing, not people.

From my points, I hope you can see that you have made a grave error in allocating so much money to Bord na gCon and will rectify this in the following 2018 budget, if indeed you do not amend the current budget. Please do revise the way in which you allocate funding so that finally the extremely poor Irish health service can, after decades, offer a decent service to all.

 ACTION ALERT 

Please sign and share the petitions
Irish Government: Stop Giving Millions of Euro to Cruel Greyhound Industry
https://www.change.org/p/irish-government-stop-giving-millions-of-euro-to-cruel-greyhound-industry

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13. Dublin Coach's shameful hare coursing service

Shame on Dublin Coach for sponsoring the hare coursing cruelty festival in Clonmel and also running a bus service to the disgraceful event.

According to a notice in the Clonmel coursing booklet - "the Irish Coursing Club is indebted to the following sponsors...BoyleSports, Horse and Jockey Hotel Thurles, The Classics Club, Stockproof Fencing Products and Dublin Coach".

A Dublin Coach ad for the coursing buses stated: "Are you going to the coursing? Get to Clonmel in luxury and we'll take you right up to the turnstiles...Coaches arrive in Clonmel approximately one hour before coursing commences and will depart one hour after coursing finishes."

As well as sponsoring hare coursing, Dublin Coach is also a sponsor of greyhound racing and is the Irish Greyhound Board's "transport partner", offering free buses from Dublin and Limerick to greyhound races.

The Dublin Coach Group also includes Darby O'Gill Tours as well as QuickPark carpark at Dublin Airport and CityScape sightseeing tours (which offer greyhound racing tickets to customers).

 ACTION ALERT 

Complain to Dublin Coach about its sponsorship of cruel hare coursing. If its support for the bloodsport would make you boycott Dublin Coach, Darby O'Gill Tours, QuickPark carpark and CityScape sightseeing tours, make this clear in your correspondence.

Dublin Coach
Unit 20, Western Ind Estate,
Naas Road, Dublin 12
Phone: +353 (0)1 465 9972
Email: info@dublincoach.ie
Leave a comment on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DublinCoach
Tweet to: @DublinCoach1

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14. GAA clubs urged to reject foxhunt fundraisers

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has expressed disappointment to Loughnavalley GAA over a recent foxhunt fundraiser.

Held in conjunction with the Westmeath Foxhounds, the "10 mile cross country charity ride" took place on Sunday 12th March. It is unclear if a pack of hounds was present or if wildlife was terrorised and killed on the day. Either way, it is disgraceful that a GAA club considered it appropriate to associate with a group involved in animal cruelty.

"Valley Ladies are teaming up with the Mens Club and holding a Charity Hunt Ride in conjunction with the Westmeath Hunt!" a notice on the Loughnavalley GAA club's Facebook page stated. "Hunt is departing the village at 1pm."

According to a report in the Westmeath Topic, the hunt was "approached by Loughnavalley GAA clubs for their support in this year’s charity ride", with a foxhunter quoted as saying "I was asked by the GAA if the Westmeath Hunt would run the charity ride to get some funding for the club in Loughnavalley."

Loughnavalley GAA Ladies club secretary, Avril Corbett, said the clubs were thrilled with the joint fundraiser.

ICABS has contacted Loughnavalley GAA clubs urging them not to associate with the Westmeath Foxhounds. We outlined the horrendous cruelty engaged in by the hunt, twice a week, when they take a pack of hounds out into the Westmeath countryside to hound and kill foxes for "sport".

We highlighted instances of cruelty perpetrated by this hunt club, which had been documented in hunt reports in the Farmers Journal and the Irish Field. For example, a 2011 report in the Farmers Journal revealed that sixteen mounted followers of the Westmeath hunt, along with 29 hounds, found a fox that was caught and "chopped". Later on, another fox was "overhauled before he managed to put any distance between himself and them". Both "chopped" and "overhauled" in hunting terminology mean that the fox was caught by the pack of hounds, torn apart and disembowelled.

In 2007, the Irish Independent reported that there was a probe into allegations that during a Westmeath Foxhounds hunt, a rope was tied to the leg of a fox and that it was pulled out of a burrow and fed alive to the dogs. In 2008, an Irish Field report revealed that the Westmeath Hunt chased a fox into the freezing water of the Royal Canal. And in another report in the Irish Field in 1991, it was reported that a fox was dug out by Westmeath Foxhounds as follows: "Terriers were some time coming as car followers were the wrong side of the wind for hearing. A quick dig followed and two foxes were dispatched. Eamon had a brush for Clarissa and a fox’s tongue which he intends pickling in vinegar to cure warts and draw thorns."

 ACTION ALERT 

Contact Loughnavalley GAA and urge them to stop associating with foxhunters. Urge the GAA to put in place a policy of prohibiting clubs from associating with animal cruelty groups.

Loughnavalley GAA
Tel: 086 064 4298
Email: administrator.westmeath@gaa.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loughanavallyladiesgaa/
https://www.facebook.com/Loughnavalley-GFC-1498301180438734/
Tweet: @officialgaa

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15. Cork Gaelscoil asked to scrap greyhound racing fundraiser

A school in County Cork is being urged to scrap a fundraiser at a greyhound track.

Gaelscoil de hIde in Fermoy has organised a "fun night at the dogs" on April 1st to raise money for an all-weather Astroturf pitch.

In a letter to principal Sean Mac Gearailt, the Irish Council Against Bloodsports said it was inappropriate to expose children to a gambling venue and to an industry which involves animal cruelty and killing. We also expressed our view that it is unfair to involve pupils in supporting greyhound racing because, "if they were aware of the suffering endured by dogs, they would surely reject it".

We referred to an RTE Prime Time report in which chairperson of Limerick Animal Welfare, Marion Fitzgibbon conveyed some of the greyhound industry's horrors. She stated: "We believe there are probably 10,000 greyhounds put to sleep every year. They can be killed in all sorts of fashions. We've had so many instances of finding them shot, ears cut off, drowned."

According to the Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland, greyhounds are expected to live to 14 years on average but in the greyhound industry, the lifespan is just 3-4 years. Many of these dogs are either euthanised, abandoned or end up in local authority pounds. GRAI also notes that in 2014, it was reported that there were 717 injuries to greyhounds, arising from dogs skidding and crashing on the surfaces of tracks, and that 3-4 dogs are euthanised at each operational racing track every Saturday.

While we understand the importance of fund-raising to schools, we are asking Gaelscoil de hIde to consider the plight of thousands of dogs and choose an alternative method of raising funds. Fundraisers at greyhound tracks are helping to keep this cruel industry alive, because the track takes a significant commission and also profits from food and drink sales on the day.

The school says it is fundraising for the Astroturf pitch because the Department of Education will not pay for it. We have pointed to the irony of the greyhound track fundraiser, given the fact that the greyhound industry has no such problems securing massive government funding - a quarter of a billion since 2001, including €16 million for 2017.

 ACTION ALERT 

Contact Gaelscoil de hIde and politely ask them to stop fundraising at a greyhound track and choose fundraisers that don't involve exploitation of animals.

Principal Sean Mac Gearailt
Gaelscoil de hIde
Email gaelscoildehide@eircom.net
Tel: +353 (0)2531217
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GaelscoildehIde/
Tweet to @GaelscoildehIde

The greyhound racing fundraiser is supported by Amber Service Station Fermoy. Contact the station and urge them to please stop sponsoring greyhound racing.

Tel: +353 (0)25 40494
Email amberdublinroad@eircom.net
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AmberServiceStationFermoyJunction14M8/

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16. Greyhound trainer banned in Australia now working in Ireland

Senator Ronan Mullen has revealed that a greyhound trainer banned from working in the greyhound industry in Australia for using live animals in baiting is now working in a kennels in Ireland.

In a 21 February 2017 speech, Senator Mullen stated: "It is sadly the case that a gentleman who was found by the Australian greyhound authorities to be using live animals for baiting and who was barred from working for the industry in Australia, and who I believe was barred in England also, is back working in a kennel in Ireland."

Read the Irish Times report.

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17. Remembering anti-bloodsports politician Brendan McGahon

Remembering anti-bloodsports politician, Brendan McGahon (former Fine Gael TD for Louth) who died on 8th February at the age of 80. Brendan was in favour of a ban on both hare coursing and foxhunting. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.

Brendan McGahon, TD: "I'm totally opposed to hare coursing. I voted against my party in the Dáil on the Gregory Bill. It's a barbaric game and foxhunting is even worse. In my youth, I used to course and was sickened by it. It's a dreadfully cruel game in which timid little creatures are butchered by dogs often psyched up and blooded beforehand by unscrupulous people. The hares are torn apart, watched and cheered by a group of blood-thirsty people, very often including local clergy."

"I'm a bit cynical about the impact of muzzling. When these dogs are travelling at very high speed and slide in for the kill, they can fatally injure these fragile creatures." (Sunday Independent, January 11th, 1998)

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18. Order of Malta responds to animal cruelty appeal by blocking ICABS

The Order of Malta Ireland has blocked the Irish Council Against Blood Sports on Twitter after we renewed our appeal to the group to stop volunteering at Clonmel's hare coursing cruelty festival.

ICABS was blocked after we tweeted the latest video evidence of coursing cruelty to the first aid organisation along with an appeal to end its shameful association with the bloodsport. Our footage shows a hare being hit and severely mauled into the ground at a recent coursing meeting, before being pulled away from the dogs, carried away and dumped into a box.

This response from the Order of Malta is very disappointing. Instead of blocking out the shocking reality of hare coursing, it should be recognising that as a charity dedicated to alleviating suffering, it is highly inappropriate to associate with an activity which causes suffering, injury and death.

The Order of Malta is disregarding the inherent cruelty of hare coursing and choosing to continue providing first aid to those who get their kicks from watching hares running for their lives. During the three-day event at Powerstown Park, hares violently snatched from the wild in nets are used as live bait for dogs to chase while a merciless mob cheer and bet on the outcome.

In an email to the Order of Malta's Dublin headquarters, ICABS praised the organisation's laudable work across the country but pointed out that volunteering at an animal cruelty event is undoubtedly contrary to its core values.

"The coursing meeting in Clonmel is the culmination of a season of animal cruelty," we stated in our letter. "Every coursing season, hares are hit and mauled, resulting in painful injuries and deaths. Injuries include broken bones and dislocated hips. This is not the type of activity the Order of Malta should be associating with."

A petition urging the Order of Malta to stay away from coursing has been signed by 1,500 people. Among the comments from those who signed are:

 ACTION ALERT 

Please sign and share our petition: Order of Malta - Stop attending cruel hare coursing festival
https://www.change.org/p/order-of-malta-order-of-malta-stop-attending-cruel-hare-coursing-festival

Join us in urging the Order of Malta to stop volunteering at Clonmel's hare coursing cruelty festival.

Order of Malta Ireland,
St John's House,
32 Clyde Road,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Tel: 01-6430000
Email: info@orderofmalta.ie, chancellery@orderofmalta.ie, sub-priory@orderofmalta.ie, omac@orderofmalta.ie, Clonmel@orderofmalta.ie

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19. Campaign Quotes

"Why else do so many people use the qualifying clause "I'm not an animal lover, but"? Do they think it means you date donkeys? Or don't know that a dog is your best friend - not marriage material? What's wrong with love that you would ever deny it? Did God say "like one another"? If love is extreme, what about hate? Speaking of which, it's interesting that the antithesis - animal hater - doesn't exist. Instead, perhaps, we have hare coursing. As one profiting pundit gloated on RTE recently, there is never a downturn when it comes to those who enjoy watching little animals run in terror for their lives. With the law firmly on their side, thanks to all the major political parties in this country, animal lovers can like it or lump it." Fiona O'Connell, Lay of the Land, Sunday Independent, 30 March 2017

"After mass, our Sunday is spent by the laity and the clergy either in pleasure or idleness; it is not spent in devotion. The young men hie themselves off to the country. The priest arranges his afternoon programme of amusement. Hurling, football, cycling, coursing, rabbit-hunting, ratting, and even hunting with beagles and harriers are indulged in. And one always finds that our Catholic young men on the Monday morning are tired, out of sorts, and ill-disposed to begin their week's business owing to the way in which the Sabbath has been spent." from "Priests and People in Ireland" by Michael J. F. Mccarthy, published in 1902.

"Why does horse racing prize money, in a sport populated by very rich owners and trainers, have to come from an Exchequer which cannot pay for the basic medical needs of our senior citizens, for instance?...It was confirmed to me at the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine that almost €3 million of taxpayers' money would be spent on the redevelopment of Galway racecourse, mainly on the construction of a champagne bar. There was a time when the people at the Galway races were happy to drink their champagne in a tent but now it seems the taxpayer has to pay for the construction of a bar for them. Is this value for money in the context of the economic hardship so many people are suffering throughout the country?" Martin Kenny TD (Sinn Fein, Sligo Leitrim) during Dail debate on Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2016, 14 December 2016.

"Hounds appeared to be marking in Kennedy’s but when hunt staff got there the pack had disappeared in a flash. It took serious galloping to get in contact with them as they crossed potato farmer Robin Waters into Liggett's heading for the woods in Mount Stewart, but the fox turned as he seemed to like Kennedy's farm, and they marked him after a cracking run of over an hour crossing line after line of seriously stiff hedges, many with wire running through them." Irish Field report on South Tyrone Foxhounds, 20 January 2017.

"When Crossdrum foxes decide to travel they give one hell of a run!! Yet again the Saturday meet at Rainbow Farm brought a cracking run when hounds found early on and made for their namesake townland of Ballymacad. A blistering 30 minute run over some of the finest and most substantial stonewalls in the country was had with a small field of 9 or 10 keeping pace." from a hunt report on the Ballymacad hunt Facebook page, 17 December 2016.

"I know people get attached to their dogs and find it hard to think of them being shot...I've seen dogs being shot and it's quick and painless. I don't feel good about it but it has to be done. There's too many to rehome and you can't keep them all on your couch. Real animal lovers might disagree but it's always been there and is not going away. Dumping them in quarries is not right. They should be buried." from a comment from a greyhound trainer, posted on Greyhound-data.com, April 2013.

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20. 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.

Government prioritising horse and dog racing over ill children
Irish Independent, March 27 2017

We have heard a lot lately about the heart-breaking plight of families battling the Government to secure funding for life-saving cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.

Distribution of the drug is delayed due to an annual cost of around €80m. This, coincidentally, is the exact amount paid out by the Government this year to horse and greyhound racing, bringing the total handed over in the past 15 years to more than €1bn.

As revealed recently in the Dáil, a significant portion of the horse racing grant goes into prize money for "very rich owners and trainers", while the €16m for dog racing is propping up a cruel and collapsing industry which the public is overwhelmingly rejecting - evident in a 50pc drop in track attendance and a 58pc fall in sponsorship.

Claims that the industry deserves cash injections because of related jobs are being increasingly challenged, with one politician saying the employment figures are "such an over-estimate, it's almost laughable".

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has declared that "the greyhound industry employs over 10,300 people" but this month, it emerged that in the Irish Greyhound Board, there is only 128 full-time staff.

In December, as cystic fibrosis patients waited, Health Minister Simon Harris was among the 105 TDs who approved the latest massive racing grants, prompting a distraught parent to ask if dog and horse races are more important than suffering children.

How obscene that politicians enthusiastically squander scarce public money on rotten racing industries, but when it comes to providing vital medication there is suddenly a focus on cost-effectiveness and getting value for taxpayers.

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against Blood Sports

The savage whipping of racehorses is barbaric and cruel and must be banned immediately
Letter of the day, Belfast Telegraph, March 16 2017

"Oh! Pray do not whip your good horse anymore; I am sure he is doing all he can." So wrote Anna Sewell in her classic novel, Black Beauty.

Some 140 years later, the whipping of horses - incredibly - continues. Once condemned as barbaric and indefensible by racing pundit John McCririck, it can be seen this week in Cheltenham as horses are pushed to their limits, sometimes resulting in horrific injuries and death.

There was shock and disgust this time last year when seven horses died at the event.

Most are unaware, however, that this is only a small fraction of fatalities.

In 2016, for example, at least 136 thoroughbreds (including 76 from Ireland) died at British racetracks.

So far this year, 34 have lost their lives (19 of them Irish), some with broken necks, some falling and not getting up and others destroyed after sustaining painful leg, knee or spinal injuries.

The 10-year-old Many Clouds is one of the latest Irish victims. In January, he collapsed at the end of a 21-obstacle, 3.2-mile race at the Cheltenham track. According to Animal Aid, which maintains the Race Horse Death Watch website, he was "raced to death".

Animal Aid has documented over 1,500 deaths at UK tracks in the past decade, noting that even more horses are killed due to training injuries.

Those following the Cheltenham Festival should consider another of Anna Sewell's famous quotes: "If we see cruelty, or wrong, that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt."

PHILIP KIERNAN
By email

End circus animal acts
Irish Independent, 20th March 2017

I applaud the proposed introduction of a bill by the Solidarity party to ban the use of animals in circuses.

There is no excuse for compelling wild or domestic animals to perform for the amusement of humans.

Many of us recall attending circuses in our childhood and being mesmorised by the tigers, lions and monkeys cavorting about.

It was just innocent fun to us, not being aware of what the animals had to endure. We didn't know, or understand, that they were confined for days at a time in cramped cages or crates in the backs of lorries.

But we grew up and now we do know what goes on behind the facade of the Big Top.

Hopefully, all circuses will soon be required to dispense with the use of animals. But such an innovation should be followed up quickly with a ban on live hare coursing.

In this practice, animals are also snatched from the wild, confined in unnatural conditions, and then forced to perform for human amusement.

So, once we have freed animals from circuses, let's have a free vote in the Dáil to end the vile circus of animal cruelty that is live hare coursing.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Punters share the guilt for cruelty on the racetrack
The Kerryman, 22 March 2017

SIR, "Oh! Pray do not whip your good horse any more; I am sure he is doing all he can." So wrote Anna Sewell in her classic novel Black Beauty.

140 years later, the whipping of horses incredibly continues. Condemned as barbaric and indefensible by racing pundit John McCririck, it was shamefully on show last week in Cheltenham where horses were pushed to their limits and beyond.

Three horses died at the festival and these are only a small fraction of fatalities in racing. In 2016, for example, at least 136 thoroughbreds (including 76 from Ireland) died at British racetracks. So far this year, 39 horses have lost their lives (22 of them Irish) - some dying with broken necks, some collapsing and not getting up and others sustaining painful leg, knee or spinal injuries before being put down.

Those who support Cheltenham and similar racing events should consider another famous Anna Sewell quote: "If we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt."

Philip Kiernan,
Mullingar

Greyhound industry allegations
Irish Independent, March 11 2017

RTÉ's 'Prime Time' report on March 9 about the Irish greyhound industry was stomach churning. Here is an industry on its knees financially even with the benefit of massive State funding, at a time when many essential public and voluntary services are crying out for support. This subsidisation by the taxpayer continues despite allegations of greyhound doping, race-fixing, managerial incompetence, and cruel abandonment and killing of greyhounds whose racing days are over.

The 'Prime Time' report included a disturbing revelation that a man severely censured in Australia for feeding a live animal to a greyhound (a practice known as "blooding") was able to come to Ireland and become fully involved in our own greyhound industry.

The Irish Greyhound Board defended its efforts to keep the "sport" drug-free, welfare conscious, and generally above reproach, but I was less than impressed by an assurance from one of its officials that there can be "no place in the industry for live animal baiting".

I agree with the sentiment 100pc, but I would point out that hare coursing is defined legally in many countries where it is banned as "live animal baiting". The definition, in my opinion, is an accurate and reasonable one. Video footage posted on YouTube shows hares being mauled, forcibly struck and otherwise injured or terrorised at Irish coursing events.

The 'Prime Time' programme asked if the industry had a future. My question is: given its reputation and track record, does it deserve one?

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

The destruction of hedgerow wildlife
Sunday Independent, 5th March 2017

Sir - Our hard-pressed wildlife is again under severe threat from interfering, ecologically oblivious politicians.

Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys is committed to extending the period during which vegetation in the countryside can be cut and burned.

Currently there's a ban on hedge-cutting up to the end of August. There is an extremely good reason for this prohibition: Hedgerows offer shelter and sustenance and vital nesting sites to a range of bird species as well as playing a crucial role in flood defences in some regions.

August is a month when wildlife desperately needs the refuge that hedgerows provide. Water flower species bloom in that month, feeding bees and butterfly pollinators. Birds continue to nest into September so that nests can easily be destroyed and the helpless chicks cruelly eviscerated as debris is hurled at them by the relentless hedge-cutting machinery.

Burning of hedges inflicts horrific injury and death on the vulnerable birds at this time of year, with the charred or dismembered carcasses of yellowhammers and other birds greeting walkers in many parts of Ireland where this practice is carried out illegally.

Yet, despite all the evidence of the impact of this insidious environmental vandalism, the minister wants to press ahead with the Heritage Bill that would allow for hedgerow destruction at the most sensitive time for wildlife.

Perhaps we shouldn't be all that surprised, given that is the same minister who offered a spirited defence of live hare coursing last June when a bill proposing its abolition was introduced in the Dail.

Three months after that, her department licensed the capture of thousands of hares for another season of a blood sport that is outlawed in many jurisdictions, including Northern Ireland.

Whether it's the elegant, visually stunning yellowhammer seeking refuge in our life-giving hedgerows, or the gentle Irish hare, renowned in song and folklore, Ireland's multi-faceted wildlife heritage doesn't appear to matter when powerful vested interests are at stake.

Our wildlife is a precious resource that needs careful and enforceable protection - for the sake of the creatures that share this island with us, and for the sake of future generations of our people who may never get to see or appreciate it if the pro-hare coursing/bulldozing/slash-and-burn politicians have their way.

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Running its course
Irish Daily Mail, February 8th 2017

Fair play to RTE's Claire Byrne Live programme for showing footage of a hare being mauled and battered at the so-called National Coursing Meeting. This happens at virtually all coursing events but tends not to get reported on due to a strict ban on 'unauthorised photography' at the fixtures. The programme's poll finding will hopefully be heeded by politicians, with 64 per cent wanting hare coursing abolished.

The pro-coursing spokesman on the programme defended his 'sport' on the basis that coursing clubs care deeply for the hare and that without their conservationist work the species would be at risk.

What a strange way coursing clubs have of showing their affection for hares...by snatching them from the countryside, confining them in unnatural captivity, and then setting them up as live bait for dogs.

How does a hare benefit from being mauled, or struck forcibly, or tossed about in a field or enclosure like a broken doll?

The Arctic hare, despite having to contend with predatory animals and birds, and freezing temperatures, gets along just fine without any TLC from coursing clubs.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Tipperary

TD with strong views and morals
Sunday Independent, 12th February 2017

Sir — Sad to hear of the death of former Louth Fine Gael TD Brendan McGahon.

He had strong views on many subjects, and was never afraid to express those views, regardless of the personal or political consequences for himself.

As a campaigner against blood sports, I admired the principled stance he adopted in June 1993 when TD Tony Gregory moved a bill to ban hare coursing.

Fine Gael imposed a whip on its TDs, obliging them to oppose the bill, but Mr McGahon stood firm on his abhorrence of hare coursing, which he had spoken out against on many occasions.

He defied the party whip and backed Tony Gregory’s attempt to protect the gentle Irish hare from organised animal cruelty.

I didn’t agree with all of Mr McGahon’s views on other issues, but it took real courage to take a stand and act in accordance with his conscience when his party cracked the fearsome whip to defeat a piece of humane and progressive legislation.

His ethical approach was in stark contrast to the sheep-like behaviour of TDs who, last year, trooped through the lobbies in Dail Eireann to oppose another anti-coursing bill.

We need more men and women of principle like the late Brendan McGahon.

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Coursing is no Olympics
Irish Examiner, 2nd February 2017

Coursing fans regard the three-day National Meeting in Clonmel as the "Olympics" of their sport.

I beg to differ. Animal baiting has no place in the real Olympics.

Sport is about fair competition. Subjecting a hare to the terror possibly agonising injury of a contrive chase is not sport; any more than pitting Katie Taylor against a punch-bag would amount to an equal contest.

When hare coursing is eventually banned in Ireland, as it has been in many other countries, people will wonder 1) why it took so long to protect the inoffensive Irish Hare from this form of animal cruelty and 2) how some newspapers could see fit cover it in their sports pages and journalists could lower themselves to writing colour-pieces about one of the vilest blood sports on earth.

We don’t see sporting coverage of cock fighting, dog fighting, or badger baiting, partly because they are illegal, but also because pitting animals against each other to fight or inflict injury or death does not deserve such coverage or the kind of eulogising accorded this week to hare coursing.

Google "hare coursing" under news and see what comes up... page after page of damning reports from jurisdictions where it is a criminal offence, with a handful of glowing reports from Ireland, where the practice still constitutes an insult to the name of sport and a monument to lazy journalism.

Mary B Hayes
Lismore Lawns, Waterford

Hare coursing
Irish Examiner, 24th January 2017

This coming weekend, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, captive wild animals will perform at the National Hare Coursing Meeting in Tipperary.

The hares will have been "trained" to act against their instincts and run in a straight line up a field, in preparation for the setting of pairs of greyhounds after them at a specially adapted racecourse in Clonmel.

Hares can be mauled, struck forcibly, or tossed about like rag dolls at coursing events. But even those that seemingly make it through the escape hatch unscathed may die afterwards from stress-related ailments.

A version of this blood sport was among the entertainments staged in the ancient Roman coliseum for the edification of the Emperor. Opposition to hare coursing is nothing new. No less a person than Saint Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century abhorred it as a devilish activity.

Thomas More included a hare coursing ban in a list of ideal societal reforms proposed in his classic, Utopia. Brendan Behan, in Confessions of an Irish Rebel, recalled having to retire to the whiskey tent at a coursing event to drown out the screams of the hares.

How sad that the gentlest creature in the Irish countryside is still running for its life. Dozens of smaller fixtures throughout the five month season culminate in this weekend’s three-day Roman Circus.

The fans won’t be wearing togas, loin cloths or suits of armour in Clonmel and they won’t arrive at the racecourse in chariots, but they’ll applaud and roar their approval as in times past. And the throng will be oblivious to the plight of animals serving as live bait. Nero would have loved it!

John Fitzgerald
Lower Coyne St, Callan, Co Kilkenny

'Festive' bloodsports surge
Irish Independent, 6th January 2017

How sad that yet again the festive period was marred by an upsurge in bloodsport activity.

Far from winding down their relentless assault on Ireland's wildlife, hunts and coursing clubs targeted even more hares and foxes than at any other time of the year.

Not for food, scientific research, or as part of any pest-control programme...but purely for the cheap thrill to be had from terrorising, injuring, or killing defenceless wild creatures.

The eyes of a hare bulge with fear and its body shakes like a leaf in the breeze when it emerges from the little slatted box to be chased by two salivating, blood-crazed dogs.

Dáil Éireann had a perfect opportunity to outlaw hare coursing last June but instead gave it a resounding endorsement, so hares must continue to twist and turn and dodge on frozen, mud spattered, or water-logged fields.

They are mauled, pinned to the ground, have their bones crushed, or get tossed about like sliotars on a hurling pitch...all for the sake of a flutter on the dogs.

Foxes didn't have a merry Christmas either. They were hounded to exhaustion and agonising death by bankers, legal eagles, auctioneers, property developers and the usual conglomerate of gawkers and social climbers.

Fox hunting is banned in Britain, and in Scotland the prohibition is to be enhanced in the near future to close off any remaining loopholes.

It's time we followed the example of the nation that gave us hare coursing and fox hunting and put an end to these so-called "sports".

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Hunting wild animals is hardly fair game
Irish Independent, 18th December 2016

Sir - It is the season to be jolly... but not for the wily fox, the gentle hare, and the majestic stag. They, alas, will not be basking in the happy glow of a winter wonderland.

The hare will, after his weeks of captivity compliments of the nearest coursing club, have to run from a pair of salivating greyhounds across a frosty, rain-swept, or water-logged field, and if he's unlucky his bones will be crushed or he'll treat spectators to an involuntary somersault or two before alighting on the "sporting" venue to continue his performance, the choreographic dicing with death that some human beings find amusing and that 114 TDs approved last June in a Dail vote on hare coursing.

The fox which, unlike a domestic dog, has no legal protection, has to put on a show for us humans, too.

He certainly impresses with his performance, zigzagging all over the scenic attractions our countryside has to offer, with scores of mounted riders and 20 or 30 hounds in pursuit.

The hunters have nothing against him, they stress, and only wish to have a jolly good day "riding to hounds", and if foxy gets caught, as happens quite often, and has the skin ripped from his rib cage, that's just nature, old boy.

Nothing personal, they assure us.

The hunters only want a spanking good ride and a stirrup cup of brandy or punch at the end of the chase.

Stag hunting was banned in 2010, but some hunters haven't heard the news yet and still pursue with relish those magnificent animals that once adorned the face of our pre-euro pound coin.

Recent weeks have witnessed numerous breaches of the ban agreed by the Fianna Fail-Green coalition, so I hope that a certain jolly philanthropist traversing the skies over parts of north Co Dublin and Co Meath will take care not to fly too low when the ghosts of hunters past are out haunting the countryside.

Donner, or Blitzen, or even old Rudolph himself, might have to resort to emergency procedures to evade costumed ladies and gentlemen blowing horns, and large numbers of brooding doggies aching to sink their teeth into protected mammals. Deer oh deer. Maybe the phantom hunters will come around to accepting that the law applies to them as it does to the rest of us.

Some day, maybe, the creatures of field and forest will be allowed to run free at Yuletide, unfettered by man's blind ignorance and inhumanity.

As the song says: "All God's creatures have a place in the choir."

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Sinn Fein and Fine Gael united in cruelty
Irish Daily Mail, 31 January 2017

Much is being made of the differences and possible common ground between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael. I was in the public gallery of the Dáil last June to witness a remarkable coming together of these polar opposites.

Despite the alleged ideological gulf that separates them, TDs from both parties trooped through the lobbies to oppose a Bill proposing a ban on live hare coursing, one of the vilest forms of organised animal cruelty.

Political differences melted away as the party that evolved from the fascist Blueshirt movement and the party that for years moved in the shadow of gunmen joined forced to prevent the gentle Irish hare from winning a reprieve from live baiting for 'sport'.

The future looks bright for Sinn Fein-Fine Gael co-operation. They may not see eye to eye on economic policy, but by God they enjoy the thrill of the chase, in a sport that sees terrified hares having their bones crushed by salivating dogs and their brittle bodies discarded like outdated election leaflets.

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny.

Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and coalition
Irish Times, January 31 2017

Sir, – Much is being made of the differences and possible common ground between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael. I was in the public gallery of the Dáil last June to witness a remarkable coming together of these polar opposites.

Despite the alleged ideological gulf that separates them, TDs from both parties trooped through the lobbies to oppose a Bill proposing a ban on live hare coursing, one of the vilest forms of organised animal cruelty. – Yours, etc,

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny

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21. Petitions - Please sign and share

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland Now
https://www.change.org/petitions/ban-blood-sports-in-ireland

Ireland: Ban Cruel Hare Coursing

https://www.change.org/p/ireland-ban-cruel-hare-coursing

Save Irish hares from cruel coursing
https://www.change.org/p/save-irish-hares-from-cruel-coursing

Irish Government: Ban barbaric digging-out and terrierwork
https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/irish-government-save-foxes-and-dogs-from-horrific-cruelty

Irish Government: Stop Funding Cruel Greyhound Racing Industry
https://www.change.org/p/taoiseach-enda-kenny-irish-government-stop-funding-cruel-greyhound-racing-industry

Ireland: Stop badger snaring cruelty NOW
https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/irish-agriculture-minister-simon-coveney-stop-badger-snaring-cruelty-now

Protect the Irish Hare
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/protect-the-irish-hare

Spanish Tourism - Stop promoting cruel bullfighting
https://www.change.org/p/spanish-tourism-stop-promoting-cruel-bullfighting

Limerick Racecourse: Stop hosting cruel hare coursing
https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/limerick-racecourse-stop-hosting-cruel-hare-coursing

Coillte – Ban hunters from your forests
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/irish-forestry-board-ban-hunters-from-your-property

Primrose: Stop selling extremely cruel glue traps
https://www.change.org/p/primrose-uk-primrose-stop-selling-extremely-cruel-glue-traps

Ban Torturous Hanging of Greyhounds in Spain
http://forcechange.com/24603/#gf_17

End Bullfighting in France
http://forcechange.com/94113/end-bullfighting-in-france

Mayo County Council: Withdraw the Dog Breeding Licence for Charles River Laboratories in Ballina
https://www.change.org/p/mayo-county-council-withdraw-the-dog-breeding-licence-for-charles-river-laboratories-in-ballina-co-mayo

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Please make a donation to ICABS

If you like our work, please consider making a donation. 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 the Paypal button at www.banbloodsports.com to make a donation or send a cheque made payable to ICABS to ICABS, PO Box 88, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Thank you very much.

Top ways you can help the campaign

Top ways you can help the campaign
Join our email list and respond to our Action Alerts
Become a campaign supporter and make a donation to help fund our efforts
Contact your local politicians and ask them to support a ban on blood sports
Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube
Sign up for our free text alert service and receive occasional campaign updates to your phone
Link to our website and display one of our banners
Monitor blood sports meetings in your area and provide us with photos, video and reports.
Write a letter to your local newspaper about the cruelty of blood sports
Sign and collect signatures for our petitions
Organise a fund-raiser to help raise funds for the campaign
Set up an online anti-blood sports group to cover your area.
Download, print and display our posters and leaflets
Set up an information stand at your school/library/youth group/adult group, etc
Introduce your friends to our website and encourage them to get involved.
Simply keeping your ear to the ground. about any blood-sport related incidents in your area.

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 www.banbloodsports.com

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.

Animal Voice - Subscribe

To receive "Animal Voice" by email every month, please send "Animal Voice - Subscribe" to info@banbloodsports.com

Make a donation to ICABS

Please consider making a donation to ICABS. For more details, please click on the button below or follow this link to find out how to become a campaign supporter. Thank you.


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