Animal Watch

Animal Watch, Summer 2000
Full Contents - Pages 1-24

Campaign Update

Since the last issue of Animal Watch, ICABS has been busy monitoring and collecting evidence of blood sports cruelty, highlighting the issues in the media, giving talks to schools, universities and groups, lobbying politicians and generally continuing to make our presence felt, much to the irritation of the hunting fraternity.

Recently we have been making submissions and lobbying on hunting provisions in the Wildlife Bill and the review into hunting in national parks and state wildlife reserves.

We are up against tough opposition in Minister Síle De Valera and Joe Walsh who have clearly demonstrated where their loyalties lie - with the hunters. However, we continue to be a thorn in their sides on the issue of the Ward Union staghunt, coursing and fox hunting.

Local campaigning paid off when Philip Kiernan of ICABS wrote to all the Mullingar Town Commissioners on the issue of foxhunting, resulting in an almost unanimous vote by the commissioners to call on the government to outlaw foxhunting.

The motion was then brought by Commissioner Frank McIntyre to the AGM of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland and carried.

We continue to name and shame companies and organisations into withdrawing sponsorship and/or endorsement of blood sports, and also appeal to charities not to accept funds donated by blood sports groups.

In the current climate of corruption in high places and clearly a government which displays a stunning contempt of the electorate, one might despair of making any strides for wildlife, given the way human beings in our country are treated.

The plight of haemophiliacs, and the women whose lives were destroyed in the hepatitis C debacle are just two of the scandals - and there are many - demonstrating the arrogance and lack of compassion of those in power who could have done something, but turned their backs on the vulnerable.

It is at times like this that we must redouble our efforts on behalf of the voiceless ones. As long as wild animals are terrified and tortured for "sport", ICABS will never give up the fight! Meanwhile, you, our supporters, can play a vital role by responding to our action items within. Remember every letter counts!

We think of brave and compassionate Vicki Moore who this year succumbed to injuries she received from a goring in Spain while filming a bullrun in 1995, and we are inspired to fight on with renewed vigour.

Our fight is certainly a David and Goliath struggle, but remember who won that particular battle!

We do have reason for hope with developments in Britain, most notably Scotland where a bill to ban hunting with dogs is expected to be passed later this year without a challenge in the House of Lords.

Meanwhile in England, the Burns Inquiry into Hunting has reported its findings to the Government, confirming that foxes and hares suffer, job losses will not be catastrophic and foxes are not significant agricultural pests.

As we go to press, a Government backed Hunting Bill has been promised for the Autumn with a number of options to include a partial ban, no ban or an outright ban - the option preferred by most MPs.

And so we must take heart from these developments across the water. A ban on blood sports in that jurisdiction must surely put our legislators, hard nosed and lacking in compassion as they are, under pressure to follow suit out of embarrassment at being seen as the last outpost of blood sport barbarism in what passes for a civilised country in the 21st century.

Finally, a sincere thanks to you, our loyal supporters. Without your continued generosity, we could not continue our campaigning efforts.

Aideen Yourell, Director, Press Office

They said it!

“If hounds didn’t account for their fox, he would be miserable ... if he lost his fox, again he would be bitterly disappointed." (Thady Ryan, ex-master of the Scarteen Hunt, speaking about his father, John Ryan of Scarteen Hunt in the Irish Field, October 30, 1999)

Some media commentators have suggested that we could also have a huge influx of UK residents moving to Ireland to hunt here, however, this is both unlikely and impractical for a number of reasons. In the first instance, there is a chasm of cultural, social and political reasons why it would be most unwise for anyone to assume that they could just move to Ireland and be accepted. (James E. Norton, Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association, explaining to the UK Inquiry Into Hunting (May 2000) why an influx of hunters into Ireland, in the wake of a UK ban, would be a bad idea)

“From a hunting point of view, it is now quite hard to cross country with the ever increasing use of electric fencing and barbed wire. We also have to contend with frequent high speed trains travelling at 100mph through the middle of our hunting country. The other major worry is the increase in traffic on the roads and the danger to our can’t blame the drivers as the hounds are out on the road before they can see them...since the start of the autumn hunting season, we have already lost two hounds." (Thady Ryan, ex-master, Scarteen Hunt, Irish Field, October 30, 1999)

Mission statement

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports was founded in 1966 and is a non-political, non-violent, non-sectarian and voluntary organisation.

In common with all animal welfare organisations we condemn all cruelty deliberately inflicted on animals. We are actively campaigning through legal and peaceful means for the abolition of blood sports where one or more animals are set against another for the purpose of sport or entertainment and which results in the maiming, harassing or killing of that animal.

We do not accept that a difference in species alone, any more than a difference in race, can justify the wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of entertainment or sport.

We believe in the evolutionary and moral kinship of animals and declare our belief that all sentient creatures have a right to a life free of deliberately inflicted cruelty.

The Council believes in the conservation and preservation of wildlife and habitats which we regard as an essential part of Ireland’s heritage.

Municipal authorities vote for foxhunt ban

A motion calling on the government to outlaw foxhunting won majority support at the AGM of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI).

The successful motion, proposed by Mullingar Town Commissioner, Frank McIntyre, was passed by a majority of five at the meeting held in September 1999.

Commissioner Frank McIntyre
Commissioner Frank McIntyre

Speaking to delegates gathered at the Thurles venue, former AMAI president Mr McIntyre described “the vicious hunting of foxes" as an anachronistic import from old aristocratic Britain.

“I do not ever remember reading anything from our history about the Irish chasing foxes with hounds," he argued, adding that it was a blood sport that “should be got the hell out of here."

Another issue raised in support of the motion was the likelihood of hordes of UK foxhunters relocating to Ireland to practise their blood sport when it is banned in that jurisdiction - a move that would certainly not be welcomed by Irish landowners.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports very much welcomes the result of the AMAI vote and congratulates both Mr McIntyre for tabling the motion and all those who voted in its favour.

This positive development follows the success of similar motions around the country. In January 1999, an anti-hunt motion tabled by Frank McIntyre was passed with almost unanimous support among Mullingar Town Commissioners, one of whom described foxhunting as an “insult to sport".

Town Commissioners in Leixlip previously passed a motion calling for a ban on foxhunting. More recently, commissioners in Shannon, Co Clare, have passed motions calling for an end to both foxhunting and carted stag hunting.

ICABS believes that these positive results reflect the wishes of the vast majority of Irish people who want to see the hunting of wild animals with dogs outlawed.

We now hope that the success of Mr McIntyre’s motion at the AMAI AGM will result in the issue of blood sport cruelty being taken up by our legislators, and that with the new millennium will come compassion and enlightenment in the treatment of our vulnerable wildlife.

The campaign to convince commissioners to vote for a foxhunt ban began in 1998 when Philip Kiernan of ICABS approached Frank McIntyre.

When Mr McIntyre agreed to table the motion in Mullingar, Philip initiated an intensive letter writing campaign to all Mullingar Town Commissioners as well as to national politicians who are known to oppose hunting.

A week before the vote was to take place, ICABS contacted the commissioners personally and presented them with video footage showing the cruelty of foxhunting. The lobbying paid off with all but one of the commissioners voting in support of the motion.

ICABS plans to focus on county councillors next and is appealing for supporters around the country to help us in this next phase. If you wish to get involved, please contact us now.

Shopkeeper fined for selling gin trap

The proprietor of a hardware shop in Co Roscommon was fined £50 for selling an illegal leghold trap in September of 1998.

Thomas Cunningham received the fine after admitting to selling the device at his WJ Sloan shop in Boyle.

The trap was spotted on sale by an ICABS investigator who promptly purchased it and reported the sale to the Wildlife Service. Under the Wildlife Act, the sale of “gin" traps is a punishable offence.

Hardware shop in Boyle
The shop in Boyle at which the unlawful trap was sold

Meanwhile, a shop in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, merely received a warning from the wildlife service after an identical trap was purchased. The shop assistant told the undercover ICABS representative that they were probably going to be getting more of the traps in stock.

If you spot one of these barbaric traps, contact ICABS immediately.

Aer Lingus admits mistake in hunt holiday promotion

Aer Lingus has given the thumbs down to foxhunting after admitting that a United States foxhunting promotion was a mistake.

The national airline had included on their website foxhunting holidays in Kilkenny as part of a ‘Mount Juliet Premier Promotion’ special offer from the US to Ireland.

Aer Lingus jet
Promotion aimed to fly United States foxhunters into Ireland

In a section headed “Explore fox hunting", visitors to the Aer Lingus site were told that “Kilkenny and the surrounding counties offer superb hunting seven days a week".

It went on to say that you can “enjoy the thrills and excitement of hunting during the day" before returning in the evening to “compare stories with your fellow huntsmen".

When ICABS called the Aer Lingus customer relations office to complain, the item was promptly removed from the website.

We also received a further call from their public relations officer who explained that the company has a policy of not promoting foxhunting and that the promotion was mistakenly included in the Mount Juliet list of activities available.

A brochure promoting foxhunting had been withdrawn last December, he outlined, adding that the website promotion had been overlooked. He also assured us that they had no uptake on the foxhunting holidays.

While ICABS is very disappointed that Aer Lingus ever promoted fox hunting, albeit mistakenly, we are pleased that they have now strongly disassociated themselves from this cruel activity.

We hope that blood sport activities continue to be shunned by all other tourism-related agencies.

Dealer called to explain “coursing ad"

An Esat Digifone dealer in Clonmel was made clarify its stance on blood sports after an advertisement in the Sporting Press newspaper suggested that the company was pro-coursing.

The dealer claimed that the newspaper received no permission to insert into its ad the phrase “Best wishes to the Irish Coursing Club with their festival week".

Esat Digifone moved quickly to stress that it does not support coursing.

Said senior marketing executive, Sarah Dempsey: “We do have a policy where ads with our logo must be cleared by us before going to print. This was a standard template ad which was altered by the paper themselves. This matter is being dealt with separately."

The dealer in question commented: "This was an advert advertising our products in a newspaper like any other newspaper and in no way does it define our support for blood sports."

Foxhunting removed from Westmeath holiday guide

Westmeath Tourism Council has been congratulated for removing a reference to hunting from their annual “County Westmeath Holiday Guide".

The move came following an appeal by ICABS for the item to be dropped.

Westmeath Tourism was originally contacted following the appearance of the reference in a Hotel Accommodation section of the guide’s 1998 edition.

In relation to one particular hotel (The Greville Arms), hunting was listed as one of the county’s attractions.

We are now delighted to note that in the subsequent edition of the guide, this mention of hunting has been deleted.

In our appeal to Westmeath Tourism Council, we expressed our belief that “foxhunting is an activity which the vast majority of Westmeath people would not want associated with the county".

We outlined our disappointment that a cruel blood sport was included in the publication, pointing out that Bord Fáilte no longer deem it appropriate to promote animal cruelty as an “attraction".

Correspondence received by ICABS from Bord Fáilte confirms that “interest in holidaying here for hunting is declining" and that they are “not doing anything to halt that decline and will be quite pleased when there are no further enquiries about hunting."

ICABS views this positive response by Westmeath Tourism Council as yet another blow for blood sports in Westmeath.

Fermoy secures ceasefire in heartless duck shoot

People power won out in Fermoy in a bid to stop a gang of French gunmen from shooting the town’s beloved Blackwater Ducks.

The ducks which are a local tourist attraction, congregate on the river near the town centre and are hand fed by the townspeople.

Signing petitions
Two of the thousands who signed the petition calling for an end to the duck shoot

In recent years, however, they had become the target of trigger happy French shooters who were invited to the area by a local landowner.

These individuals came to shoot over his land, part of which incorporates a public riverside path close to the town centre.

Last November, Fermoy townspeople had to endure the sound of sustained gun-fire throughout the town as these heartless shooters blasted away at the tame mallards. Sadly, their actions were all perfectly legal and with the blessing of the National Parks & Wildlife Service who grant licences to these out of state shooters.

But Fermoy locals were undeterred. Headed up by ICABS’ own Pat Phelan (a resident of Fermoy), they were ready for the shooters this year.

Prior to their arrival, the “Save Our Ducks" campaign was set up, and Pat got unprecedented local and national media coverage for the ducks issue.

The group collected 1,000 signatures for a petition during a four hour period in Fermoy’s Pearse Square, and these, together with a video of the ducks and the area where the shooting takes place, were handed in to Minister Síle De Valera’s office.

The local councillors rowed in behind the campaign, and unanimously called for the duck shoot to be called off, and the whole area designated a wildlife sanctuary.

The French shooters were spotted in Fermoy in early November, but they proved no match for Pat Phelan and fellow campaigners.

Although the gunmen were legally entitled to continue their killing, not a shot was fired due to continuous patrols mounted by the group.

This year the ducks were spared the guns, but Save Our Ducks have vowed to continue their campaign to have the area made a wildlife sanctuary in an effort to ensure legal protection for the ducks and wildlife.

ICABS congratulates Pat Phelan and all those who worked to make this campaign a success. Congratulations also to Fermoy residents for supporting their efforts.

Injustice and barbarism of hunt’s blood lust

The following is an extract from an excellent letter to the editor published in the Irish Times in January...

On Monday, January 3rd, I had the rare opportunity of being an unwilling spectator at a hunt.

While driving on secondary roads near my home in Limerick, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks and ordered to go back, as there was no way through. The road behind me also became blocked and I had no option but to pull in and wait.

I sat helplessly in my car, trapped on all sides, for at least half an hour, while an assortment of fat-arsed “aristocratic" riders ploughed their way through their badly parked vehicles. Mud splashed onto my face and clothing through the open window of my car, as their horses cantered past.

Excited voices of peasant supporters declared that there was “one hound on him" and “he’s gone under the road" at which point all attention turned to the field on my left. I watched while the bloodthirsty hounds and their human counterparts closed in on the prey as it made its final dash for life.

Was the victim of this Bacchic frenzy something fierce and monstrous? Could it be possible that this large lynching party was concentrating its collective effort on killing a defenceless fox? My eyes filled with tears as I wondered if the hounding of a human being in other circumstances could be met with such glee. My heart pounded at the injustice and barbarism of this blood lust.

I have always abhorred blood sports but never before has the injustice and arrogance of a situation moved me to write to you. If the tone of my letter seems querulous, it’s because I write with a heavy heart. Anne Murray Browne, Limerick

No prosecution for rail track trespass

Iarnród Éireann has refused to prosecute the Galway Blazers foxhunt after they were caught trespassing on a railway line for the second time in a year.

ICABS observers present in the village of Crumlin, Co. Galway on November 16th last, photographed and filmed mounted members of the hunt and a pack of foxhounds on the tracks.

Blazers on tracks
Galway Blazers Hunt followers on railway tracks in County Galway

We sent the evidence to Iarnród Éireann authorities, but their response was to pass on our correspondence to the hunt with a mere “slap on the wrist" and a warning to stay off the track in future.

Earlier on in the year, we sent photographic evidence of a previous Blazers incursion on the line at Craughwell, Co. Galway.

The incident took place in February 1999 but we did not obtain the images until several months later.

Iarnród Éireann District Manager, Gerry Glynn, responded as follows: “Your letter and photograph were forwarded to the Iarnród Éireann solicitor in order to issue the necessary proceedings. Unfortunately, as this incident took place in February last, it is now statute barred, and cannot be prosecuted at this stage."

He assured us, however, that any future incidents would be attended to promptly.

Any sensible person interpreting the statement by Mr Glynn that the first trespass was statute barred, and couldn’t be prosecuted, might reasonably conclude that had it not been statute barred, Iarnród Éireann would have indeed prosecuted.

Blazers on tracks
Galway Blazers hounds on Crumlin railway tracks

But, when we put this to the test in November with irrefutable evidence of a further trespass, Iarnród Éireann, for reasons best known to themselves, got cold feet and decided to give the fox hunting “pillars of society" a second chance.

One wonders if second chances like these would apply to other lesser mortals caught trespassing on their railway lines.

Rail Trespass and the Law

The 1950 Transport Act states that where a person is charged with an offence in respect of rail trespass, the fact that he had not received a personal warning shall not be a ground of defence.

The penalty for trespass on a railway line is £500 and/or six months imprisonment. In the case of foxhunts, where hounds are found on the line unaccompanied, ICABS believes that the Control of Dogs Act 1986 should be applied.

Track warning sign
Iarnród Éireann warning: do not trespass

According to Section 9(1) it is an offence to permit a dog to be in any place other than the premises of the owner, the premises of another person in charge of the dog or the premises of any other person, with the consent of that person, unless such owner or such other person in charge of a dog accompanies it and keeps it under effectual control. Foxhounds on a railway line, constituting a risk to themselves and rail passengers, could by no stretch of the imagination be said to be under effectual control.

Galway Blazers Cruelty Exposed

A former follower of the Galway Blazers Hunt has come forward to expose the horrific abuse being inflicted on foxes. With his shocking collection of photographs and graphic account of “vulgar acts of cruelty" he hopes to convince the government to finally put a stop to fox dig-outs.

In a written statement submitted to both ICABS and the national media, Tom Hardiman of Craughwell, Co Galway says he “can no longer tolerate the gratuitous cruelty meted out to foxes by the Galway Blazers".

Mangled fox
The gruesome end for hunted foxes in Ireland

Photographs taken by Mr Hardiman - who followed the Galway Blazers for over 25 years - reveal explicitly the barbarity of foxhunting. One shocking shot (see above) shows the gruesome end for foxes caught by hunters. The mangled and bloodied animal with its entrails hanging out was dug out of the ground and savaged by hunt terriers.

Mr Hardiman believes that the digging out of foxes when they’ve gone to ground is entirely unacceptable. “It’s wrong and it’s cruel,” he comments, outlining his disgust. “No fox deserves to be treated like that.”

In deciding to go public with his story, he hopes that the government will now be convinced to take steps to outlaw the digging out of foxes. His description of a typical end to a foxhunt is particularly distressing.

“What happens is when the fox goes to ground, the huntsman calls for the terrierman with the hunting horn, and when the terrierman arrives, he lets the terrier into the fox den.

“The terrier goes straight to the fox and fights with it in a furious way. The terrier keeps on fighting with the fox while the terrierman tries to locate where the terrier has the fox cornered.

“The terrierman pokes the ground with a thin iron bar in an effort to find the spot. When he finds it, he digs the clay away from the den and takes the terrier away from the fox.

“Then the huntsman lets the hounds in on top of the fox. The hounds drag the fox out of the hole and tear him to pieces."

Fox dig-out
The Galway Blazers dig a fox out of the ground at the end of a hunt

Mr Hardiman goes on to outline what he witnessed at a hunt in Knockbrack, Athenry.

“I saw it all going on here,” he says in his statement. “It’s a vulgar act and no fox deserves to be killed in such a horrible way.”

“The fox is a great wild animal, and can evade a pack of 36 hounds if given fair play, but he’s not being given this fair play. I have been to hunts where the fox covert has been almost surrounded by followers on horseback in an effort to try to make the fox run in the direction that they want to go.

“As a result, the fox turns back into the covert because when he’s not allowed to run through the countryside he knows, he gets confused as a result of being turned back and doesn’t leave the covert. He then has only one thing left to do, so he goes to ground, and this is where the cruelty takes place with the terriers and the poking bar and the digging.

“I have taken photos of foxes that have been killed in the way that I have described in an effort to try and save the fox from this horrible cruelty. Digging out of foxes at their dens and killing them should be stopped completely.

“The fox is entitled to be left alone when he evades the hounds. There’s no sport in digging the clay away from his den and letting the hounds in on top of him, dragging him out and tearing him to pieces. I have heard the huntsman on one occasion when the hounds were killing a fox, shout ‘break him up’. That’s not sport.”

This evidence leaves no doubt that foxhunting’s so-called code of conduct - a farcical document dubbed by ICABS as a code of misconduct - has failed to eliminate any of the cruelty from foxhunting.

In the wake of Mr Hardiman’s shocking presentation, ICABS has renewed its call on Minister Joe Walsh to legislate against this horrendous cruelty which he claims he finds “unacceptable”.

Peaceful protestor to appeal £150 fine

Tom Hardiman who exposed the cruel activities of the Galway Blazers (see story above) is to appeal a £150 fine imposed by Loughrea District Court in April.

Mr Hardiman was convicted under the Public Order Act for holding a peaceful protest outside Loughrea Cathedral in January.

Thomas Hardiman
Peaceful protestor, Thomas Hardiman

The protest was to draw attention to the fact that local bishop, John Kirby, allowed the Galway Blazers onto his 70-acre farm to hunt foxes last December.

Mr Hardiman’s solicitor has lodged an appeal against the conviction.

ICABS had made a written appeal to Bishop Kirby not to allow the hunt onto his land but our entreaties sadly fell on deaf ears.

ICABS monitors checked out earths on the bishop’s land following a second visit by the Blazers the following month and found a blocked badger sett which was confirmed by Dúchas to be active.

It is a breach of the Wildlife Act to interfere with a badger sett and we understand that Bishop Kirby has been informed of the presence of the sett on his land by Dúchas.

Action item: Write a politely worded letter to the bishop asking that he refuse future access to the Galway Blazers. Write to: Rev Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert, Coorheen, Loughrea, County Galway. Telephone: 091-841560.

Minister back-tracks on Wildlife Bill provisions

Two provisions in the new Wildlife Amendments Bill which would have given some respite to both wildlife and landowners persecuted by hunt trespass have been dropped by Minister Síle De Valera after pressure from the hunters.

A provision to outlaw shooting at night with powerful lamps has been dropped following the attendance by Síle De Valera at the Gun Club’s AGM in Ennis last October.

Mounted hunter over ditch
Ploughing through: Síle De Valera reluctant to impose any new controls on hunt trespass

By its very nature, shooting at night using lamps is an extremely hazardous activity carrying high risk of injury to people and livestock.

The shooters managed to sell the Minister the myth of the fox as a major agricultural pest which has to be controlled.

However, surveys undertaken by both Irish and UK Departments of Agriculture prove that predation on lambs by foxes is minimal. These, along with other scientific data submitted by ICABS were ignored by the Minister.


The other provision dropped by Síle De Valera at the behest of various hunting interests was the addition of ferrets, birds of prey or packs of dogs to the list of items/animals hunters may not take onto land without the landowner’s permission.

Under the Wildlife Act at present, if you don’t have permission from the landowner, it is an offence to hunt animals with firearms or various other instruments.

So, the addition of dogs and other animals used for hunting was a logical and sensible move, and one which would have given extra and much needed protection to landowners persecuted by hare hunters with lurchers, terriermen engaged in badger baiting and fox digging and mounted fox hunts.

However, the hunters went to work on the Minister, and she announced in the Dáil in December that she would change the published text of Section 51 of the bill which would have made it an offence to hunt wild animals with a ferret, bird of prey or pack of hounds on land without the owner’s permission.

The reason for the change, she said, was because “it has become clear that this would impose new controls on existing legal forms of hunting, which were never intended.”

The only conclusion that one can draw from this incredible admission is that the Minister does not wish to see hunters restricted from allowing their dogs to hunt across lands, including those where they are not wanted, and that she will do nothing to prevent it.

Otter Hunting Ban

A provision which ICABS welcomes in principle is the repealing of Section 26(i) which means that hunting otters with hounds will be banned.

However, this is an empty gesture as long as mink hunting is allowed to continue. When otter hunting licences were suspended in 1990 following intensive campaigning by ICABS and because of an EU Directive, the four otter hunting packs operating in Munster promptly switched to mink hunting along the very same stretches of river occupied by otters.

We have reliable information that otter hunting continues and we have recently acquired video footage of a so-called mink hunt pursuing an otter in the undergrowth alongside a river.

The footage highlights the enormous disturbance caused by the hunters and their dogs which swim up and down the river and hunt on the riverbank, while the hunters prod the bank with long sticks and use terriers to flush out their quarry.

There can be no doubt that, at the very least, otters and their habitats are being severely disturbed during mink hunts, and this is a clear breach of the EU Directive which designates the otter and its habitat as highly protected.

The bill is currently making its passage through Dáil Éireann. It has passed first and second stages, and has been referred to committee stage where interested parties may make submissions and amendments can be made. ICABS has been granted a meeting with the All Party Committee, when we plan to make a strong case for the retention of the original provisions together with a ban on mink hunting. In the meantime, you can help by contacting your local TDs and making your views known.

Also contact Minister De Valera and ask that she re-instate both the trespass and night hunting provisions. Point out that a ban on otter hunting is pointless while mink hunting continues. Write to the Minister at Department of Arts and Heritage, Dún Aimhirgin, Mespil Road, Dublin 4, lo-call 1890 474 847, fax 01-6473101 or email

Your local TDs can be contacted at Dáil Éireann, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, lo-call 1890 337 889. And remember, every phone call, letter, fax and email counts!

DeValera does about turn on coursing club ban
TD delegation persuades minister to allow club run meeting

A COURSING club which had its licence suspended following a refusal to admit Dúchas officials to its grounds in January 1999, succeeded in having it promptly reinstated by Minister Síle De Valera who relented after a delegation to her office, led by Fianna Fáil TDs, John Ellis and Matt Brennan.

The Kilcreevin/Ballymote Club in County Sligo had been disqualified from holding its 2000 meeting after refusing to allow National Parks & Wildlife rangers to carry out a spot check on their grounds.

Dead hare
A hare lies dead inside a coursing enclosure

Dúchas are said to have considered the matter as extremely serious and sought assurances from the Irish Coursing Club that the incident did not reflect the policy of the control body.

In response to a Dáil Question from Deputy Tony Gregory last May, Minister Síle De Valera revealed that other clubs which came to the attention of Dúchas for irregularities were Clare South where 14 hares died from an unknown cause (claimed to be stormy weather conditions by the club) and East Donegal where hares were released outside the jurisdiction which technically amounted to an export of hares, requiring a licence under the 1976 Wildlife Act.

The matter of re-coursing hares was also dealt with in response to Deputy Gregory's Dáil Question when it was stated that Dúchas raised the possibility of hares being coursed more than once on the same day in relation to ranger's reports of coursing meetings in the 1998/99 season at Borris-in-Ossory, Rathdowney, Tubbercurry and Millstreet.

It would appear that the 'irregularities' outlined above were of sufficient concern to NPWS personnel that Dúchas called the coursers in to account for themselves at a meeting in July 1999. No doubt, they promised to clean up their act, and the following month, the two Fianna Fáil TDs led a deputation to the Minister in a bid to get Kilcreevin/Ballymote's licence reinstated.

The Minister, in giving in to the coursers, must have felt really sorry for them when she said: "I was conscious of the fact that my earlier decision to exclude the club from the licence imposed a sanction on all club members because of the actions of a small number of individuals."

Hunted hares “as happy as Larry”

During the Wildlife Bill debate in Dáil Éireann in April, Cavan/Monaghan TD Andrew Boylan absurdly suggested that hares are perfectly happy to be hunted.

“In County Cavan one sees ordinary people going out on foot every Sunday with their little terriers or hounds,” he remarked. “They may chase a hare up to the highest hilltop, watch the hunt, listen to the hounds and see the hare scooting off as happy as Larry.”

Ward Union deer do suffer stress: report

A Department of Agriculture report on the welfare of deer hunted by the Ward Union Staghounds has confirmed that the animals are at risk of injury during the hunt and are stressed by both carting and hunting.

The report, based on observations by Department representatives during the 1997/98 hunting season, focuses on the condition of the deer prior to and following the hunt.

Hunters dragging stag
Report found that subjecting deer to treatment like this elicited a stress response. Is anyone surprised?

It establishes that hunts are physiologically demanding for the deer and that they are still recovering from the ordeal ten days afterwards.

The 21-page document obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act outlines that hunts attended by its authors lasted for up to two and a half hours and saw deer being chased for up to 17 miles. “The hunt is strenuous and stressful while it lasts,” they state, “and deer become fatigued as a result.”

The list of injuries sustained by the deer make horrifying reading: one deer was choked to death while being captured, one had injuries to its legs and another was left with a broken antler bud.

In addition, it is highlighted that the animals are “at risk of injury when crossing the roads”.

Another interesting revelation is that, contrary to Ward Union claims in the past, the interval between hunts at which the same deer are chased again may be extremely short - just ten days in one instance.

De-horned stag
Stressful journey: A dehorned stag pictured in the Ward Union trailer

One deer hunted twice during this period was found to be “clearly exhausted” at the end of a 90 minute hunt. The report illustrates the depleted state of this unfortunate animal, saying, “it attempted to jump a typical field gate and failed, falling back off it on the same side.”

Attention is also drawn to the disturbing behaviour of two other deer - both hunted twice within a six week period.

One was “restless walking around in the cart at the deerpark and jumping and rearing during the first 15 minutes of the road journey” while the other “showed muscle tremors”.

Regarding the effect that a day’s hunting has on the deer, the study states: “The elevation in muscle enzymes in the blood circulation indicates that the combined process of drafting, loading and transporting was physiologically demanding for the addition, hunting subjected the deer to periods of strenuous exercise which significantly raised their muscle enzymes to approximately twice the level found in the non-hunted spare deer which had only been transported.”

Analysis of blood samples confirmed to the authors that Ward Union deer generally suffer stress not only from being chased by the dogs but also from being transported in a trailer to the hunting grounds.

MEPs refuse to support blood sport declaration

A written declaration to the EU Parliament in support of blood sports, issued by Irish MEP, Avril Doyle, and three others in October 1999, has fallen far short of gaining majority support in the European Parliament.

Only 40 out of a total of 600 MEPs signed the declaration which called for recognition of, and the rights of citizens to engage in, what was euphemistically termed “country sports” and “traditional rural pursuits”.

Avril Doyle
MEP Avril Doyle whose pro-blood sport declaration failed

ICABS is disappointed that Avril Doyle deemed it fit to call for support and recognition from the EU Parliament for such barbaric and outdated activities as live hare coursing, stag hunting and foxhunting.

She was joined in this call by MEPs Noora Kauppi from Finland, Danielle Ducarme from France and Roger Helmer from the United Kingdom.

Only one other Irish MEP - Niall Andrews - signed in support of the declaration. However, following a plea from ICABS, Mr Andrews advised us that he would withdraw his name from the list.

The failed declaration submitted by the MEPs on October 13th stated that:

Action: Please write to Avril Doyle, MEP at The European Parliament, Rue Wierts, B-1047, Brussels, Belgium. Outline your opposition to blood sports and ask that she refrain from making further declarations in support of animal cruelty.

Clergy continue to bless cruelty

In the Summer 1998 edition of Animal Watch we carried a report on Limerick curate, Fr John Dunworth, who blessed the Limerick Foxhounds at their opening meet of the season.

We now have the mispleasure of highlighting another member of the clergy who has followed suit.

Fr Brendan Crowley, PP, was present at the opening meet in Co. Waterford of the aptly named Kill Harriers to bless the hunt and wish everybody (apart from the hunted foxes and hares) “safety in their Sunday sport”.

Other priests who are reported to have blessed hunts in recent years are Fr Tom Burns, Fr Gerry Condon and Fr Carey, all from the Waterford & Lismore Diocese.

How sad that some of those who should be setting a good example by promoting compassion and caring for all living things, continue to endorse and give their blessing to wanton and unnecessary animal cruelty.

Action: Write a politely worded letter to the Rev Bishop William Lee, Bishop of Waterford & Lismore Diocese, Bishop’s House, John’s Hill, Waterford City, expressing your disapproval and requesting that hunt blessings cease.

Golf Coursing

“I feel like a hare in a coursing event, trying to escape all these young greyhounds after me... [my performance] was born out of fear, not confidence.” 46-year-old Irish golfer Des Smyth after moving into the lead in the first round of the Algarve Portuguese Open in March 1999.

A Path back to the wild

The touching tale of how two cubs whose family was killed were slowly directed back to the wild. Photos and text: Philip Kiernan

The two-day-old cubs were so new to the world that their eyes hadn’t yet opened. As they slept alongside their mother in the security of an earth, they had no reason to suspect that they were just moments away from experiencing the awful cruelty inflicted by man on wildlife.

Exercising cubs
Fox trot: Peter brings fox cubs, Bill and Ben, for a walk in the meadow behind his home

Above the earth, a farmer had just arrived with a shovel. In a heartless act, he proceeded to dig the family out of the ground before shooting the vixen in the head. The cubs were also brutally killed - except, that is, for two. For some reason, he decided he wanted them alive.

It was a woman from Mullingar who was next to see the two animals. Walking along a country lane she came upon the farmer whom she knew as a neighbour. He stopped and asked her if she wanted to look at something. Reaching into the glove compartment of his car, he promptly pulled out the cubs.

Sensing that the pitiful pair weren’t in the best hands, the woman persuaded the farmer to give them to her.

Over the next month, the cubs were to live in her rented accommodation in Mullingar.

However, they would be on the move again before long. When the landlord found out about the additional tenants, he demanded that they be rehomed.

Still less than two months old, the next stop for the pair of cubs was a sanctuary in County Roscommon run by Peter Akokan of Foxwatch Ireland.

After such a harsh beginning to their lives, they were now on a path back to the wild.

But would all the contact with humans lessen their chances of being successfully reintroduced into the countryside? According to Peter, the “dark grey balls of fluff” were young enough when they got to him to develop wildness.

“As cubs get older, they generally become much wilder,” he says. “When Bill and Ben (as they were christened) came here to this environment, I saw them quickly becoming wild within two weeks.”

Their new surroundings proved to be just what they needed. For the first few days, they were allowed to settle in a straw lined pen in which they slept, tunnelled and played.

It wasn’t long after that they were ready to explore the garden with its abundance of fox-friendly undergrowth.

In the nearby meadow, they were given the freedom to explore further afield, following Peter’s footsteps as he encouraged them to exercise.

Fox cub
Peter with foxcub, Bill

At 10 weeks old they had total freedom to come and go from the garden as they pleased. Being dependent on food left out for them, however, they didn’t stray too far.

Their diet initially consisted of tinned dog food but it soon evolved to include such items as chicken, honey and road kills (dead crows or rabbits which Peter would constantly be on the lookout for when out driving)

Remarking that “if you want to rehabilitate them successfully, you can’t pamper them”, Peter explained that the offerings were gradually decreased in an effort to get them into the habit of exploring the surrounding countryside and collecting food for themselves.

The first cub to return to the wild was Ben at 12 weeks of age. According to Peter, he had become extremely shy and afraid. It became difficult to leave food out for him because when he saw it being put in place, he would run away. This made it hard to keep an eye on his progress because he would only make an appearance when nobody was around.

Bill, who had always been the much tamer brother, was not so eager to go. “He was like a young puppy in comparison,” outlines Peter.

“He had less fear and was always more relaxed around people. He did get progressively wilder but didn’t leave until he was around nine months old.”

Asked about their chances of survival, Peter pointed out that since Ben was very independent and wild, the likelihood of him surviving is very high. Indeed, he was subsequently spotted along a hedgerow, demonstrating his hunting techniques.

While Bill depended for a long time on a ready supply of food, he did eventually go off hunting on his own and developed skills needed for survival.

As the months pass, sightings of the two become less frequent. In a land where danger for foxes is ever present, we can only hope that they continue to avoid the type of person who gave them such a harsh start in life.

More information on Foxwatch Ireland can be found at

Celebrities against cruelty

Personalities from all over the world of entertainment are lining up to help keep the spotlight on blood sports. Philip Kiernan and John Tierney report.

Oasis Star, Noel Gallagher, has become the latest in a long line of celebrities to come out against blood sports. In December 1999 the outspoken singer joined other personalities in writing to UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in a united call to ban foxhunting.

“At the dawn of the new millennium, outdated and barbaric activities such as hunting should be consigned to the history books,” wrote Gallagher.

Noel Gallagher
Consign hunting to history books: Oasis star, Noel Gallagher

Other celebrities who partook in the letter writing campaign included popular astronomer Patrick Moore and comedy scriptwriter Carla Lane.

The involvement of celebrities in the campaign has proved to be an important factor in raising awareness among the general public. Statements by individuals from the world of entertainment are guaranteed huge publicity and help keep the spotlight on the issue.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and actress Dame Judi Dench are among stars who have already given their support to the campaign against hunting.

Commenting on his anti-blood sport views, Sir Paul said: “I believe that hunting with dogs is a barbaric practice that in no way can be justified as sport. It must be banned in our society before we can think of ourselves as ‘civilised’.

“The animals with which we humans share this planet deserve our respect and kindness rather than the cruel tortures we too often inflict upon them,” he added. “There can be no rational reason for this practice to continue, and only when it is banned will we be able to emerge from the dark ages into the light of a new century.”

Paul McCartney
Animals deserve our respect and kindness: Sir Paul

Individuals from the sporting world have also come out against the blood sport. Remarked rugby player, Martin Offiah: “Hunting wild animals with dogs is cruel and unnecessary - it’s time to kick it out of touch.”

Other celebrities who wish to see foxhunting banned include satirist John Bird, BBC Radio 1 DJ Mark Radcliffe, comedians Sean Hughes and David Baddiel and Eighties pop singer Midge Ure.

Meanwhile, fans of Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde will be delighted to learn that she too has left no doubts as to her views on blood sports.

During a recent concert in Portuguese town, Viana do Castelo, she told the audience that she and her band are firmly against any form of animal cruelty. A yell to the crowd that “it’s time to stop bullfights” drew a huge applause.

Sadly, some celebs have expressed a desire to see fox hunting continuing. Take note of the following and consider if they are deserving of your continued support.

Comedian, Harry Enfield, conservationist David Bellamy, actor Jeremy Irons (who thinks foxhunters are helping the countryside to maintain a balanced ecosystem!), One Man and his Dog presenter, Robin Page, novelist Frederick Forsyth, footballer Vinnie Jones, cricketer Ian Botham and singer PJ Harvey.

Reports of animal cruelty could avert human abuse

Research shows that incidents of human abuse can be dealt with far more effectively if the issue of animal abuse is also considered, writes John Tierney

More and more evidence is emerging that exposes the link between those who are cruel to animals and those predisposed to harming humans.

A campaign launched by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a radical step forward in combating animal and human abuse.

Called the First Strike programme, it has two main aims: to raise awareness of the links between animal abuse and violence towards humans and to establish confidential cross-reporting procedures between agencies who deal with both types of abuse.

Under the First Strike programme, Scottish SPCA inspectors investigating cruelty against family pets, report any incidence of other household members being the victim of abuse.

Their information is passed on to the relevant authorities who ensure that cases which come to their attention are followed up.

The United States has led the research field into the link between domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse. From this research four significant themes have emerged.

Animal abuse can be a predictor or indicator of domestic violence.

In the US, higher rates of animal abuse by parental figures have been found in substantiated cases of physical abuse against children than in the general population.

A 1981 UK study reported that of 23 families investigated by the RSPCA for animal abuse or neglect, 82 per cent were also known to local social services departments as having “children at risk”.

Abuse against animals, when perpetrated or witnessed by youngsters, can evolve into a general desensitisation to violence and into acts of violence in adulthood.

Various US studies have shown that a higher proportion of aggressive and violent adults have histories of abusing animals compared with their non-aggressive and non-violent counterparts.

Certain features of childhood cruelty to animals were particularly significant in accurately predicting later aggression. These included lack of remorse, a variety of cruel acts and direct involvement in cruelty, rather than simply witnessing the act.

Many men who are violent against women enhance their control by harming or killing family pets or by threatening to do so.

US studies have described the torture and killing of animals by an adult as a coercive technique within the context of family violence or sexual abuse of children.

A survey of 72 women who use refuges in Wisconsin found that 86 per cent of respondents had animals in the house, and of that group, 80 per cent reported that abusers had also been violent towards the animals.

Children frequently witness instances of abuse or coercion involving animals.

A 1998 US study noted that the loss of pets or possible traumatic experiences related to animals in the lives of children are frequently overlooked.

In this study of 311 children, the loss of a pet was rated as “very difficult” by between 60 and 71 per cent of respondents surveyed.

Given this background, Irish organisations and agencies who deal with animal abuse and violence against humans might consider taking on board the First Strike programme.

Co-operation between such groups could have a pivotal role to play in dealing with the twin evils of animal abuse and human abuse in the areas of child and spouse welfare.

Mystery surrounds harrier pack killing

ICABS has written to the Garda Commissioner, calling for a Garda investigation into the destruction of a pack of hounds owned by a Mullingar-based hunt.

Westmeath SPCA inspector, Ms Olive Manning, confirmed to the Westmeath Examiner that hounds belonging to the Westmeath Harriers were put down but she declined to comment on the circumstances leading to the destruction.

Ms Manning told the Examiner: "The dogs are all gone, they were put down and that is the end of the story."

Suspicions were first aroused when a caller to a local animal sanctuary reported that three healthy hounds he had given to the hunt had been destroyed.

De Valera continuing to stonewall on stag hunt

Incredibly, after a prolonged review into stag hunting by the Heritage Council who recommended that Minister Síle De Valera clarify whether the Ward Union deer are domestic or wild, and the matter being adjudicated by the Attorney General, we are literally back to square one.

Minister De Valera continues to spout the same boring mantra which by now we are so familiar with that we could recite it backwards and even hum a tune to it.

In February 2000 we finally got a response to our letter of 5th July, 1999, with an apology from the Minister for the “long delay” due to what she referred to as “an oversight”.

“The deer in question are from a herd maintained for many years by the Ward Union Hunt,” she wrote. “It is understood that this herd is kept in purpose built deer parks on some thirty five acres of fenced parkland.”

However, the next paragraph is an interesting but bizarre variation on the theme with the Minister declaring, “As you are aware, the Wildlife Act, 1976, makes provision in section 26(1) for licensing the hunting of deer by stag hounds, but makes no reference to the status of the deer.”

Why on earth should the 1976 Wildlife Act make reference to the status in terms of wildness or domesticity of the deer or any other animal when the Act deals exclusively with wildlife.

In making the above statement, the Minister is demonstrating the weakness of her position on this issue.

She obviously knows that the deer are not wildlife, and therein lies the problem for her. She doesn’t want to pull the plug on Fianna Fáil’s influential pals in the Ward Union. So instead, she adopts the stonewalling and fudging tactic, hoping that we will all go away and leave her alone. Not likely!

Amazingly, when Patricia McKenna, MEP wrote to the Minister last month, asking for clarification on the status of the Ward Union deer, the Minister’s reply intimated that this was the first she had heard of the issue.

She wrote as follows: “Thank you for your letter of 11th May 2000, regarding the licensing of deer hunting to the Ward Union Stag Hunt. I am making enquiries into this matter and I will contact you again when I have further news.”

We all know what that will be ... “the deer in question are from a herd maintained for many years ...blah, blah, blah.” You know the rest.

Action Item
Write, phone, email and/or fax Minister Síle De Valera with the question: Are the Ward Union deer domestic or wild?

You can write to the Minister at either Dún Aimhirgin, Mespil Road, Dublin 4 or or fax to 01-6473101. Her phone number is LoCall 1890 474 847.

Just keep asking - on an hourly, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. We will have to do whatever it takes for this Minister to ANSWER THE QUESTION.

Four dogs destroyed after breaking legs on field

Four young greyhounds who all suffered broken legs were put down following the Liscannor Coursing Club meet in September.

According to a report in the Irish Times, one of the greyhounds collapsed onto the grass screaming before someone rushed in, slung it over his shoulder and carted it away to be killed.

The hares didn’t escape injury either on this, the first meet of the 1999/2000 coursing season. The journalist who attended the event described how one was “punched to the ground by dogs”.

Her description of how the hares were treated by handlers prior to being made run before the chasing hounds was particularly distressing.

“Men and boys were constantly busy, arranging the hares into tunnels. They shifted the hares around by prodding them with sticks, and by spitting and blowing on their heads through the slats.”

With this in mind, a quote in the report from a coursing enthusiast looked particularly absurd.

Liscannor Coursing Club president, Morgan O’Loughlin (who, interestingly, acted as vet for the event) claimed: “We pursue responsible policies in relation to hares. We’re very particular about protecting hares all year.”

Death of brave anti-cruelty campaigner, Vicki Moore

The world has lost one of its most compassionate, courageous and inspirational anti-cruelty campaigners with the untimely death of Vicki Moore at 44 on 6th February, 2000.

Vicki, from Merseyside, England, founded the Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe along with her husband, Tony, and together they led the campaign against bullfighting and Spanish fiestas.

Vicki with dog
Vicki Moore 1955-2000

Vicki and Tony’s campaign hit the spotlight in 1991 with an horrific UTV documentary which showed scenes of appalling animal cruelty in Spain, filmed by the couple at great personal risk.

They took their video evidence to the European Parliament and campaigned for an amendment to the Treaty of Rome whereby animals would be classed as sentient beings with feelings rather than mere produce. This protocol was finally adopted in 1997.

Vicki, originally a night-club singer and actress, was propelled into campaigning against the cruel fiestas in 1987 when she learned of a Spanish donkey-crushing festival.

She promptly headed off for Spain, and bought Blackie the donkey in order to save him from being ridden to exhaustion in the streets. Blackie was taken back to the UK to a sanctuary in Devon where he happily spent the remaining six years of his life.

Vicki and Tony returned to Spain several times over the years, collecting video evidence of horrendous cruelty to animals. In 1995, Vicki nearly lost her life while filming, when she was very badly gored at a bullrun. Despite her severe injuries, and a long spell in hospital, she vowed to fight on, and last summer when she was suffering crippling pain, she again went to Spain to collect more evidence of animal cruelty.

Vicki was interviewed on the Rodney Rice programme on RTÉ last summer in response to a request from ICABS following much publicity about a group of Irish men taking part in a bullrun at Pamplona to raise funds for the Irish Kidney Association.

Vicki explained that the bull run or “encierro” at Pamplona is a tourist-driven and sanitised version of the real bull runs, of which there are approximately 15,000 throughout Spain. In these, the animals (sometimes including calves as young as two months old) can be tortured for hours by being stoned, stabbed and dragged along the ground by tractors.

Vicki revealed that the whole bullrunning industry is driven by greed in that the breeders can fetch up to £4,000 for an animal used in an event. When Rodney Rice asked Vicki why she continued to do what she did, particularly after her horrific experience at the Coria bullrun, she replied that she had been “handed a sort of cross”.

“I was asked to do it by Spanish people who feel strongly about this - and there are millions of people in Spain who feel strongly against this sort of thing, but who don’t have a public voice. They begged me to try and publicise it and bring support from outside of Spain - from Europe - from anybody who would listen and help.

“My cross was handed to me. I thought long and hard about taking it up, but I did and it’s been a long road, a sad road and a bitter road, but I just pray to God that eventually sanity will prevail and there will be some justice for animals.”

And there was some justice when the ritual of decapitating chickens at Nalda was eventually banned thanks to the courage and persistence of Vicki and Tony.

ICABS extends deepest sympathy to Tony Moore on the loss of his beloved Vicki. May she rest in peace, and may the enormous sacrifices she made for vulnerable, tortured innocent animals achieve the justice she so desperately wanted.
Aideen Yourell

FAACE can be contacted at: 29 Shakespeare Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 5AB, England or on +44 (0)1704 535922. Website:

Call for investigation into hunt incident at suspected sett
Observers find mangled cub buried in hole

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports and Badgerwatch Ireland has called on the Wildlife Service to investigate an incident in County Waterford in which a fox cub was killed at what appears to have been a badger sett.

The incident which took place on 16th October last was witnessed by two observers who were monitoring the cubhunting activities of the Waterford Foxhounds at Blacknock, Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford.

Fox remains
The remains of a fox savagely killed by hunters at Kilmeaden, Co Waterford.

John Tierney, ICABS Wildlife Research Officer and Bernie Barrett, national co-ordinator of Badgerwatch Ireland, remained out of sight of hunt followers as they observed the scene.

Mounted hunters had surrounded an area of thick undergrowth in the corner of a field before a number of terriermen with dogs were seen joining them.

The observers reported hearing the sounds of a dig-out as well as yelping noises and dogs barking.

Shortly afterwards, when the riders and hunt hounds had moved on, John Tierney and Bernie Barrett approached the undergrowth where the terriermen had been.

They saw that the ground had the appearance of having been just freshly dug with a hole filled in with loose clay.

When they moved the clay back, they discovered the head and hind legs of a fox shoved into the back of the hole. Closer examination of the scene revealed strong visual evidence that this site could be a badger sett.

This incident has been brought to the attention of the Wildlife Service who have been urged to establish the status of the site and to take appropriate action.

Under the Wildlife Act, interfering with a badger sett is a very serious offence.

We are not hunt chase sponsors: Supermac’s

Fast food chain, Supermac’s, has moved swiftly to clarify the situation regarding an advertisement that listed them as the sponsor of a blood sport-related event.

The ad, published in the Irish Field and the Farmer’s Journal, suggested that the chain was sponsoring the All Ireland Interhunt Chase at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

However, Supermac’s Marketing Director, Peter Boland, pointed out that this was not in fact the case.

“The situation is that we do not sponsor the All Ireland Interhunt Chase,” he stated in a letter to ICABS.

Hunt is on for new blood

A ten-year-old is now acting as joint master of a beagle pack according to a report in a Westmeath newspaper last March.

The objective of the newly formed pack, according to the report, is to “introduce the children of Westmeath and Meath to beagling”.

Beagling involves a pack of up to 30 dogs and hunters on foot hunting down and killing hares for ‘sport’.

Beagling hunters often claim they never catch hares (as if allowing dogs to chase and terrify them were perfectly acceptable in its own right) but hares are indeed caught and killed after the chase.

For example, a report in the ‘Countryman’s Weekly’ last November outlined how a visiting English pack chasing a hare in the Curragh caught it “after a fast and furious hunt and were awarded a magnum of champagne by the Irish Masters of Beagles Association.”

The fact that young children are being exposed to, and encouraged to take part in, such wanton cruelty is utterly shameful in this new millennium when we should be engendering in youngsters respect and compassion for all wild creatures.

ICABS Support Group News - Waterford & Wexford

A large contingent of supporters from the Waterford and Wexford Support Group of ICABS held a successful demonstration at the Saint Stephen’s Day meet of the Waterford Foxhounds in Tramore, County Waterford. Their message was clear: "Stop this senseless slaughter".

They were joined in the protest against the “hunt’s sick sport” by a number of other animal welfare groups including Badger Watch Ireland.

Tramore protest
Members of the Waterford & Wexford Support Group who formed part of the demonstration in Tramore.

Also present was Tramore Town Commissioner, Eddy Walsh, who condemned the presence of the foxhunters in Tramore and remarked that “the sooner foxhunting is consigned to the dustbin of history the better”.

Speaking at the demonstration, John Tierney, Chairman of Waterford ICABS said that the Protection of Animals Act which exempts those who hunt with hounds from prosecution needs to be updated and the anomalous exemption removed.

“Our wildlife is part of our precious heritage and it belongs to all of us,” he said. “No one group, pleading “tradition and culture” for their barbaric practices, should be allowed to inflict terror and pain on our wildlife for their own perverse pleasure.”

ICABS noted with dismay the continuing sponsorship of the stirrup cup by the Majestic Hotel outside of which the Waterford Foxhounds met for the second year running.

As the riders of the Waterford Foxhounds left Tramore for a day’s animal abuse, demonstrators left them with no doubt as to where the majority of Irish citizens stand on the issue of foxhunting.

ICABS Makes submission to UK hunting Inquiry

ICABS was assured that our submission and video evidence of Irish blood sports cruelty, presented to the UK Burns Inquiry into Hunting, was taken into account in the production of their report.

In a bid to demonstrate that muzzling should not be considered as a “cruelty solution” in the UK, ICABS drew attention to the failure of muzzling to eliminate hare kills and injuries in Ireland. We also emphasised the abhorrence of the Irish public to the activity, quoting the results of a 1998 Sunday Independent survey showing 80 per cent opposed, despite muzzling.

The Inquiry, set up by the Labour Government to assess the impact of a ban on hunting in terms of the rural economy, pest control, social and cultural life of the countryside, wildlife conservation and animal welfare, has found that foxes, deer and hares suffer from being hunted, hunting with hounds is an effectual form of control, and job losses will be minimal if hunting is banned.

Is the wildlife in our state sanctuaries up for grabs?

In another move to seemingly placate the hunters and sell out our wildlife, Arts & Heritage Minister Síle De Valera, has instigated a review into the longstanding policy of no hunting in state owned national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Minister’s attendance at the shooters’ AGM last October has, it seems, paid dividends for the hunting fraternity.

The Minister acknowledges that “as managers of the national parks, Dúchas - the Heritage Service - owes a duty of care to the many recreational users, such as hill walkers, birdwatchers, botanists, schoolchildren and others who visit our national parks, not to put them at the increased risk of accidental injury from firearms used by sports hunters.”

Why then is the Minister reviewing hunting in national parks, etc? Is she looking for ways and means for the blood sport enthusiasts to invade our parks?

ICABS believes that if the shooters gain access to the parks and sanctuaries, even on a limited basis, this will open up the parks for other hunting groups who will demand their slice of the action.

Given the scarcity of hares on the ground for live hare coursing, we have no doubt that coursing clubs will want to get into the sanctuaries to net hares.

In April, ICABS met with UK consultants, Just Ecology, who are undertaking the review. We made a strong case for keeping our state sanctuaries hunter-free and for creating even more safe havens for our beleaguered wildlife.

Urgent Action: Please make your views known to Minister Síle De Valera at the Department of Arts and Heritage, Dún Aimhirgin, Mespil Road, Dublin 4, lo-call 1890 474 847, fax 01-6473101 or email

Also write to Just Ecology at Flint Cottage, Stone Common, Blaxhall, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 2DP, UK or email:

ICABS web site among Irish top 10

The campaign website of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has been listed as a top ten Irish website by popular computer magazine, PC Live.

Our website which can be found at is proving to be very popular with over 1,800 visitors since its May 1999 launch.

Visitors to the site can expect to find all the latest campaigning developments, online versions of our anti-blood sports leaflets, past issues of Animal Watch, letter writing appeals and petitions to print out and sign.

Galway Blazers feature in Irish scandals book

A recently published book focussing on major Irish scandals since the 1920s has considered an incident involving the Galway Blazers Hunt worthy of a mention.

“This Great Little Nation (An A-Z of Irish Scandals and Controversies)” by journalists Gene Kerrigan and Pat Brennan, features a scandal that arose in 1947 when local farmers in the Galway Blazers hunt country banned the hunt from entering their lands.

The hunt wasn’t banned due to concerns over cruelty to animals but because of issues relating to religion and sexual morality.

The appointment by the Blazers of joint master Mrs James Hanbury, was the cause of a major outcry in the area. The reason for this was that Mrs Hanbury was both a Protestant and a divorcee.

The farmers, backed up by local bishops, Reverends Walsh and Dignan, cried foul.

The good bishops stated that “a person who publicly acts counter to Catholic principles in this matter cannot expect to be received by Catholic people, and to be given the same honour and privileges as those who respect Catholic moral standards.” Their statement was read in all the churches in the area.

When the hunt rode out in December with Mrs Hanbury in tow they were greeted by a deputation of farmers who wished to inform the riders verbally that they were not allowed on Catholic land.

On Saint Stephen’s Day, Mrs Hanbury resigned, and as the authors of this compendium of scandals say, “the Galway Blazers were again welcome to terrorise foxes on Catholic land.”

“This Great Little Nation” by Gene Kerrigan and Pat Brennan is published by Gill & Macmillan. £7.99.

Bullfighting News

Korea imports Spanish cruelty

The first Spanish-style bullfighting event to be held in Korea was marked by angry protests by animal welfare groups who made it clear that blood sports are not welcome in the country.

Organisers of the week-long Grande Corea were invited to bring the spectacle to Seoul, a move which saw animal welfarists congregating at the Seoul Land Theme Park venue to voice their opposition.

“We cannot but express concern and rage at the Toros-sponsored event,” said Kum Sun-nan, president of the Korea Animal Protection Society (KAPS). "To our knowledge, no other country in the world has invited Spanish bullfighters to come and perform. Even the Spanish government is expected to gradually ban the fighting.”

Tortured bull
A matador taunts a bleeding and exhausted bull in a Spanish arena

Referring to Korea's hosting of the 2002 World Cup, she emphasised how Spain faced strong international protest during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and indicated that her country could expect a similar reaction if bullfighting continued.

“Animal abuse is not tolerated anywhere on the globe,” she reminded legislators. “Unless we realise this, we will not be successful hosts to the World Cup games.”

The Korean Animal Protection Society and other groups urged Koreans to understand that animals enrich human lives, not inconvenience them.

The KAPS recently won a victory for animals when they led the move to block legislators’ attempts to legalise the sale of dog meat.

Madrid’s Massive Message

A massive anti-bullfighting poster has been unveiled in Madrid to coincide with the start of the world’s biggest bullfighting festival.

The caption on the poster is: “Some confuse the 21st Century with the Middle Ages. What era are you living in?”.

Giant poster
The giant anti-bullfighting poster in Madrid

Said protest organiser, Consuelo Polo: “Bullfighting is a national shame which sets Spain closer to the Middle Ages than a modern, forward-looking Europe.”

Matador shunned

FEMALE matador, Cristina Sanchez, gave up bullfighting in disgust - not because of compassion for the bulls but because male colleagues were shunning her.

Complaining that male matadors would not appear in the same arena as her, she retired from the blood sport. During her time as a bullfighter, Sanches killed two bulls.

Award for decades of campaigning

The Humanity Dick Award was made in May 1999 to Dick Power of the Limerick Supporters Group for his long and sterling service to ICABS.

Septuagenarian Dick was one of the founders of ICABS back in the early 60s and is still very much active in the campaign.

Dick Power
Sterling service to ICABS: Dick Power

He continues to be a fount of valuable information and an inspiration to all of us.

Dick’s area of expertise in the anti-hunt campaign is the threat posed by hunters to farmers and their livelihoods.

Judge wrecks coursing party

District Court Judge, Michael Patwell, lashed out against live hare coursing at Middleton District Court in August, when the Rathcormac Coursing Club made an application for a late night licence for their 50th anniversary dinner-dance celebration.

Judge Patwell refused to recognise the “celebration”, planned for November, as a special event, stating that “half the people in Rathcormac wouldn’t even know the dinner-dance was taking place.”

Describing coursing as “two big dogs chasing a tiny little animal” this was not Judge Patwell’s first time to express his abhorrence of the blood sport.

In 1992, when an application for a late night extension was made by publicans in Clonmel for the National Live Hare Coursing Finals (who described it as an “historic event”), Judge Patwell retorted that “it may well be an historic event, but it involved the killing of innocent animals.”

He went on to say that “he personally did not like it, but would grant the exemption orders because of the legal position.”

Judge Patwell also presided over the infamous greyhound blooding with live rabbits case in Tipperary in 1994, when he sentenced five people, including the 23-year-old son of leading greyhound trainer, Owen McKenna, to three months imprisonment, describing their crime as "horrible savagery."

Badger Update

Badger baiting on the internet

The internet is now being used by badger baiters to promote their sick blood sport.

An advert on a Galway web site stated that “quality badgers are available for death by baiting...we raise them ready for the road.”

Both Badgerwatch and ICABS informed the Wildlife Service and the Gardaí about this and we understand that it has now been removed.

Depressingly, it seems that badger baiting holidays are still being organised here and availed of by British thugs, with return visits by Irish baiters, and the internet is being used to network via coded messages.

British police are investigating but are finding it difficult to crack, saying “it’s a close-knit system with its own publications and clubs.”

Badger cull to be extended

Badgers continue to be officially persecuted with the Department of Agriculture set to increase culling with the planned appointment of 75 “snaring operatives”.

The Department insists on using the barbaric wire snare for this purpose. During a meeting with Dúchas officials last December, ICABS appealed for, at the very least, this appalling instrument of torture to be dropped. We brought along a typical snare to the meeting and noted with interest that it was the first time they had actually seen a wire snare.

Downplaying the controversy over suffering caused by the snare, Dúchas boss Michael Canny described it as merely “a restraining device”. This was in response to a query from the Berne Convention about aspects of the badger cull, prompted by a submission from Badgerwatch.

Animal Watch Credits

Animal Watch is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, PO Box 88, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland.
Tel/Fax: 044-49848.


Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell
Contributors: Aideen Yourell, John Tierney, Philip Kiernan, Thomas Hardiman, Peter Akokan, Mike Huskisson, Joan Yourell, Philip Samways, Anne Murray Browne
Layout and Design: Philip Kiernan
Cover Photograph: Peter Akokan

All submissions to Animal Watch should be submitted for consideration to the above address along with your name, address and telephone number.

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