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Minister has AG's advice on legality of staghunt

stag in cart

The Attorney General has now advised the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Síle De Valera, on the legality of the Ward Union Stag Hunt. The Minister has had this information since early March 1999, but is keeping it close to her chest for reasons best known to herself.

ICABS has been in almost daily contact with the Minister's officials at the Department since we learned that the Attorney General had delivered his advice, but we have come up against the proverbial brick wall. The Minister, we are told, is still considering the advice and will make her decision in due course. We can not even get a time frame on this decision. However, we know that it will have to be made before the next hunting season begins which is October.

Stags hunted by the Ward Union have their antlers sawn off
to make it easier re-capture them at the end of the hunt
(Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Exclusive Photos - Staghunt Cruelty Exposed

dragging stag forward Chased for 1 1/2 hours across the Meath countryside, this exhausted stag was cornered in a field by hunters and hounds. After being violently wrestled to the ground, the animal with its tongue hanging out and blood clearly visible on its mouth, was dragged away by members of the hunt.
forcing stag into trailer After being captured, the stag is forced into a trailer and brought back to the hunt's deerpark. Stags are typically subjected to this ordeal twice each season.

NOTE: The above images were captured on 19th January, 1999 and form just part of the shocking display filmed by ICABS on the day.

What You Can Do To Help - Please Act Now

You can help bring carted stag hunting to an end.
Contact the two relevant Government Ministers and express your opposition to this barbaric blood sport.

Contact the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Síle DeValera.
Demand that she take immediate steps to bring the Ward Union's cruel activities to an end. Also, demand that she reveal the advice she received from the Attorney General.

Write to:
Minister Síle DeValera, Dept. of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Mespil Road, Dublin 4
01-6670788 Ext.2321

Contact the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh.
Demand that he take immediate steps to bring the Ward Union's cruel activities to an end.

Write to:
Minister Joe Walsh, Dept. of Agriculture, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
01-6072000 or 01-6072878

Lodge a complaint about the Ward Union Staghounds with the Garda Commissioner.
Please refer to the incident pictured above (as shown on RTÉ news programmes) which occurred on
19th January, 1999 near Warrenstown, Dunboyne, Co. Meath.

Write to:
Garda Commissioner, Garda HQ, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.
01-6771156 or 01-6795677

ICABS Media Release - 21st January, 1999

Staghunt Cruelty Exposed
ICABS Calls For Immediate Ban on Ward Union Deer Hunt

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports today calls on Arts & Heritage Minister, Síle De Valera, to call off all future Ward Union carted deer hunts, following damning evidence of cruelty to a stag witnessed by ICABS observers at a hunt in Co. Meath yesterday.

During yesterday's hunt, attended by boxing celebrity Steve Collins, ICABS monitors obtained the first ever photographic and video evidence of the cruelty of this carted deer hunt which shows a terrified and exhausted stag, having been pursued across countryside for one and a half hours, cornered in a field by the pack of hounds.

An ICABS cameraman raced to the scene and managed to film the terrified stag under pressure from hounds. A number of supporters manhandled the stag to the ground, and the exhausted animal with blood on its mouth and its tongue hanging out, was dragged away down a laneway through a farmyard and forced into a cart.

This episode points up clearly the totally unnecessary and cruel nature of carted deer hunting which involves the twice weekly taking out of a deer from the private deer herd of the Ward Union Hunt Club to countryside locations in Co. Meath and North Co. Dublin. The stag, with its antlers sawn off prior to the hunt, is released into unfamiliar terrain, and pursued across country by a pack of hounds and followers on horse-back for anything up to three hours for the express purpose of "fun", "entertainment" and "kicks".

The Ward Union have always denied inflicting cruelty on deer by virtue of the fact that it is not killed at the end of the hunt. Yet, they see nothing wrong in submitting it to needless terror, exhaustion and injury during a hunt.

We call on both Ministers with responsibility for this barbaric and outdated activity, Síle De Valera, Arts & Heritage, and Joe Walsh, Agriculture, to follow the example of the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture who ruled in 1997 that a similar hunt, the Co. Down Staghounds, were in breach of the N.I. Welfare of Animals Act due to the fact that the deer herd owned by the Down staghunters were domestic rather than wild animals and so could not be subjected to hunting in this manner.

Last year, the Minister's own advisors, the Heritage Council, recommended that she should not issue a licence for the current hunting season to the Ward Union, pending clarification of the status of the deer. The Minister rejected this recommendation, and has passed the matter to the Attorney General for adjudication.

ICABS believes that the Ward Union deer herd fall into the same category as the Co. Down staghounds, and so should be protected under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act which states that it is an offence to terrorise or cause unnecessary suffering to an animal (being a domestic animal). In any event, we believe that ALL animals, both wild and domestic, should be protected from all terror, cruelty and suffering and that the 1911 Protection of Animals Act should be amended accordingly.

Aideen Yourell, Spokesperson
Irish Council Against Blood Sports


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