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Drag hunting option "a possibility": Ward Union master
06 February 2007

ICABS is today asking Minister Dick Roche to watch a Video Clip in which Ward Union hunt master, Michael Bailey, doesn't rule out the possibility of the controversial deer hunt choosing to go drag hunting instead.

This significant ICABS footage from 2004 demonstrates that the hunt is open to alternatives and should signal to Minister Roche that when he finally decides to stop licensing the Ward Union, the hunt will be willing to change.

Answering questions from ICABS campaign director, Aideen Yourell and ICABS vice-president, Tony Gregory TD, Mr Bailey is clearly receptive to the idea of replacing the abuse of deer with the humane drag hunt alternative. "I'm not saying that's not a possibility," he says.

The conversation took place following a hunt in County Meath in which a sweating deer with its tongue hanging out was seen desperately running across a field, under a wire fence and over a ditch. Also witnessed was a scene involving hunt hounds invading the garden of a local woman who shouted at them to get out.

Michael Bailey
Ward Union hunt master, Michael Bailey, after a hunt in County Meath. Speaking to ICABS representatives, he was receptive to the idea of the drag hunting alternative.

Transcript of conversation

To view the video clip, please click on the following link:

Aideen Yourell: Would you consider drag hunting?

Michael Bailey: I'm hunting since I was a child...I don't know...

Aideen Yourell: Blood hounds, drag hunting - very enjoyable.

Michael Bailey: Do you do it? I haven't seen it done so I don't know anything about it.

Tony Gregory, TD: Would you like to organise a pilot scheme?

Michael Bailey: Where would you be thinking about doing it?

Aideen Yourell: Around here! And you wouldn't have any problems with farmers because you'd have a [pre-planned course].

Michael Bailey: We don't have any problems with farmers, thank God.

Tony Gregory, TD: You had problems with some people there when the hounds went into their home earlier on in the day.

Michael Bailey: Well, I didn't see that.

Aideen Yourell: Would you not consider that?

Michael Bailey: Well it's open to anybody to consider it, I suppose.

Tony Gregory, TD: Well, hopefully you may have to consider it in due course. Most civilised countries are getting rid of this sort of thing. It's inevitable that it will be gotten rid of here. It's only a matter of time. Maybe looking at alternatives that they're doing in countries around the world is a good idea.


Aideen Yourell: Maybe we'll see you doing drag hunting then and save that poor animal all that distress and exhaustion.

Michael Bailey: I'm not saying that's not a possibility...I'm not saying that's not a possibility.

Aideen Yourell: I saw him [the stag] there in the field and it was pathetic...

Michael Bailey: Well everyone has their views.

Aideen Yourell: see a creature like that pursued and hounded like that - it's dreadful.

Michael Bailey: I like to hear your views.

Aideen Yourell: That's my view and it's the view of an awful lot of people. It's shocking when you see it like that.

Quote: Ward Union's drag hunting experience

"Pat Coyle of the Ward Union is still on his bike and will be for another week or so before the horses are called upon. He will be doing two or three drag lines a week after that. This drag is used as a training device for young hounds and to get them hunting fit, as he does not have the luxury of cubbing, like the foxhunters." (The Irish Field, September 10th, 2005)

Photos: Ward Union's animal abuse

Six men holding deer in field
An injured, panting deer at the end of a Ward Union hunt. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Man with bloodied hand grabbing deer's mouth and ear
At the end of a Ward Union hunt - the captured deer can be seen here with blood on its wounded head.

Dogs closing in on exhausted Ward Union deer
The pack of Ward Union hounds closing in on the exhausted deer at the end of a day's hunting in County Meath. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)

Captured stag with bleeding mouth being dragged along
The captured deer - with a bleeding mouth - is dragged along towards the hunt's trailer at the end of a Ward Union hunt. Minutes earlier it was "rugby tackled" to the ground by a hunter. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Stag being dragged head first to the ground
A deer is tackled to the ground by hunters. Though exhausted from the chase, it struggles desperately to escape. (Photo: Mike Huskisson)


Please write to Minister Dick Roche and demand that he stop licensing the Ward Union Hunt.

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1.

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
LoCall: 1890-202021
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640.

Please appeal to Minister Mary Coughlan (she is responsible for animal welfare and the Protection of Animals Act) to intervene to end carted deer hunting.

Minister Mary Coughlan
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.

Video Presentation: Ward Union carted deer hunt

To witness what happens to the deer during a Ward Union hunt, please view our YouTube video presentation by clicking on the following link:
Blood Sports in Ireland - Carted deer hunting

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