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ICABS responds to misinformation from deerhunt supporters
22 November 2007

ICABS has issued a response to misinformation currently being circulated by supporters of the Ward Union hunt. Our statement, forwarded to politicians in Dail Eireann, addresses claims that a hunt ban would lead to job losses and the deaths of dogs. Extracts from our submission appear below.

Claims that a ban on carted deer hunting would lead to job losses is a cynical and misleading attempt to gain a modicum of sympathy for this cruel and indefensible blood sport. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports wishes to stress that there is absolutely no reason why a transition from carted deer hunting to the humane alternative of drag hunting need lead to any negative impact on local employment. Apart from the absence of the terrorised deer, drag hunting is identical to carted deer hunting vis-a-vis the horses and hounds involved, the workload for farriers and the level of animal feed required. Local veterinary surgeons would still have the business of tending to hounds and horses (we can't imagine any vet who would argue for a continuation of the hunt as causing suffering to animals is contrary to the Veterinary Council of Ireland's Code of Professional Conduct).

As for claims that any blood sports ban would hurt the horse sales industry, please see the following extract from the Farming Independent of 30th October 2007: "Although the introduction of the UK hunting ban was at the time heralded by many as the end to the Irish hunter trade its 'bad' effect went virtually unnoticed...We never had a better trade than when they brought in the ban," says Jim [an Irish horse dealer]. This shows that despite a ban in the UK, demand for Irish horses has not fallen. Hunters have suggested in the past that hunting gives an advantage to horses - any such advantage can, of course, be matched by drag hunts. The latter has the added benefit of bringing horses on challenging runs but keeping them away from hazards that could cause serious injuries.

In drag hunting, a member of the hunt simply drags a scented rag along the route the "hunt" is to take. He is given a sufficient head start and will remain unseen by members of the hunt and by the hounds. The pre-planned route he takes is kept secret so that the "hunt" remains unpredictable to the followers. Please see our short video presentations to see how successfully drag hunting works: and

Drag hunting can also guarantee that horses and hounds stay well away from schools. Earlier this year, the Ward Union's pack of hounds chased a bloodied and screeching stag into the grounds of a primary school and left frightened young children in tears and running for safety (See: Bedlam as Ward Union invades school playground ). The principal of the school was prompted to initiate the school's "Critical incident Plan" for the first time ever - this included instructing teachers to keep children inside the school.

"The school staff and parents immediately swung into action to ensure the safety of the children," she later recounted to listeners of Liveline, detailing how the pack of hounds chased the deer around the school grounds a few times. "It was a terrifying experience for me as an adult and I can just imagine that for children it would be very terrifying," she said.

The hunt was also condemned by infuriated parents. "It was a dangerous situation," commented one mother who said that with horses blocking the road, she was unable to get across to the school to see where her child was. Another observed that if anything had gone wrong, an ambulance would not have been able to get down the road which was clogged with hunt vehicles and horses. "It was the luck of God that no child was injured," she remarked. Meanwhile, the driver of a local school bus described it as "an utter disgrace" and told of how hunt followers "held up the whole road" and gave the children "the finger" when they shouted out the window that hunting was cruel.

Other apologists for the Ward Union have claimed that a ban will lead to the slaughter of dogs and horses. This mean-spirited argument is without foundation - there is nothing to suggest that a changeover to drag hunting would result in a situation where less horses and hounds are required.

Yet another claim is that a ban on the Ward Union would represent an erosion of rural traditions. As demonstrated by the results of a Meath Post opinion poll which found that a two thirds majority of Meath people don't want the Ward Union, carted deer hunting is clearly a tradition that has outlived its welcome. Not only does it involve unacceptable animal cruelty but it has also been the subject of complaints from farmers and other landowners as well as from the parents of local school children and motorists in Meath and North County Dublin. Cockfighting, dog fighting and badger baiting were once seen as rural traditions - all cruel blood sports that have been outlawed. The countryside will undoubtedly be even better off without carted deer hunting.

For the animals that suffer, for the Meath majority who want the hunt stopped, for the image of Ireland as a decent and compassionate nation, carted deer hunting must be ended.


Please contact Environment Minister, John Gormley, and appeal to him to stop carted deer hunt cruelty by firmly refusing a licence to the Ward Union.

Sample Letter
(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 888 2403.
Fax: 01 878 8640.

Dear Minister Gormley,

I wish to register my opposition to the Ward Union carted deer hunt. I wholeheartedly support a total ban on this cruel blood sport and urge you to refuse a licence to the hunt.

For the animals that suffer, for the Meath majority who want the hunt stopped, for the image of Ireland as a decent and compassionate nation, carted deer hunting must finally be ended.

Thank you, Minister. I look forward to your reply.

Thank you and best wishes.

Yours sincerely,


Videos: Carted deer hunting cruelty

Slideshow - Ward Union
Duration: 04:06
Ban the Ward Union
Duration: 00:30
Carted deer hunting
Duration: 04:51


Videos: Drag hunting

Photos: carted deer hunting cruelty

A deer, drenched in sweat, stands weakly in the Ward Union's livestock trailer at the end of a gruelling cross-country chase. Please ask your local TDs and Senators to save deer from this cruel blood sport

Ward Union "deer handlers" wrestle the deer head-first into the ground at the end of a hunt. Animals are at great risk during this merciless move and at least one has been choked to death.

At the end of a hunt, one of the Ward Union hunt's "deer handlers" prevents an exhausted and injured deer from escaping by grabbing hold of its mouth and ear. Another handler attempts to hide the head injury by holding his hand over it.

The Ward Union's "deer handlers" surround an exhausted and injured deer at the end of a hunt and grab hold of its body to prevent it from escaping.

Ward Union hunt members push and pull the injured deer back towards the deer cart at the end of a hunt.

More information about carted deer hunting

Carted deer hunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

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