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Predictable outcome as foxhunters investigate themselves
6 December 2007

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has described as "predictable" the outcome of an "investigation" into allegations that a fox dug out of the ground during a hunt in Westmeath was tied up and fed alive to hounds. ICABS has expressed its deep scepticism after hunt body, IMFHA, dismissed the cruelty claims.

According to a report in the Westmeath Topic newspaper, the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association maintained that "there was no evidence whatsoever that a rope or anything similar was used" and rejected claims that the fox was thrown to the hounds. They did not deny that the dig-out - one of the most cruel aspects of foxhunting - took place.

"The IMFHA said that they unreservedly accept the account of what happened as stated in an interview conducted with the whipper-in who supervised the dig," the newspaper reported.

In response, ICABS spokesperson, Aideen Yourell, described the outcome as predictable.

"The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is entirely sceptical of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds and their so-called 'investigation' into the allegations that a fox was tied and fed live to a pack of hounds," she said. "The outcome, clearing Westmeath Hunt of cruelty, was predictable given that, in effect, the hunters were investigating themselves."

"The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said recently that self regulation does not work and nothing could be more true in relation to foxhunters and other blood sports groups," she continued. "This incident highlights the cruelty of foxhunting, involving the digging out of foxes during hunts, which the Westmeath Hunt has not denied and which is routine in foxhunting. Those who follow this hunt and give it their support can not but be aware of this barbarism - no longer can they turn a blind eye and pretend such things do not happen. By their participation they are endorsing and contributing to the cruelty."

ICABS has called on the Gardai to investigate the allegations.

Video: The cruelty of foxhunting
(Duration: 06:27 minutes)


Urge the Minister for Agriculture to amend the Protection of Animals Act so that foxes and all wild creatures are protected from unnecessary cruelty.

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

Dear Minister Coughlan,

I am writing to implore you to act to ban foxhunting in Ireland.

Minister, foxhunting is cruel from beginning to end. The foxes suffer great stress and damage to internal organs during the gruelling cross-county chases. When they try to escape underground, terriers are sent after them to viciously attack them and drag them out into the open. The squealing, injured and terrified foxes are then mercilessly killed by a hunt terriermen. Other foxes will die a despicable death as they try to evade capture - they are violently knocked off their feet by the pack of hounds and eviscerated.

Minister, I appeal to your sense of compassion to urgently intervene to save the fox from this barbarism. No living creature deserves the fate of foxes in foxhunting. The fox is one of Ireland's favourite wild creatures and is beneficial to farming interests by keeping down the numbers of mice, rats and rabbits which form part of its natural diet.

Please ban foxhunting now.

Thank you. I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,



Appeal to all Irish politicians

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

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

We desperately need your help to convince the government that it is time to ban foxhunting. Please write to all of your local politicians and ask them to express their opposition to this blood sport.

If possible, get your friends, family and workmates to contact them too. We need as much help with this campaign as possible.

Write to your TD at:
Dáil Éireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Write to your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623.

For the names and contact details of politicians, please visit the Irish Government Website.

Video: Drag Hunting - The humane alternative

Irish Independent article

Top hunt probed in cruelty claim
by John Meagher
November 23 2007

The body in charge of Irish foxhunting is investigating claims that a fox was dug out of its den, tied up and then fed alive to hounds during a top hunt in Westmeath.

The Irish Masters' of Foxhounds Association (IMFHA) has confirmed it is investigating the alleged barbaric incident which is said to have taken place during a Westmeath Hunt meet near Walderstown, Co Westmeath, on November 14.

Such activity is strictly prohibited under the Code of Conduct drawn up by the Irish Hunting Association and sanctioned by the Department of Agriculture and Food. Rule seven states: "In no circumstances will a live fox which has been dug out be thrown to the hounds."

A department spokesman confirmed they had been informed of the investigation and were monitoring the situation. The Westmeath Hunt, founded in 1854, is regarded as one of the country's most prominent hunts.

"It's very early days as yet," said Brian Munn, IMFHA spokesman. "We heard the rumour 48 hours ago. My colleagues have spoken to eyewitnesses and those people have denied that that happened. We have got an explanation but I am very loathe to say too much at this stage.

"Let's be clear about this -- it is very important for us that this sort of thing does not happen. We will be relieved if we discover that this is some kind of malicious rumour. At the same time, if it is true, heads will roll because we cannot have that in hunting -- it will destroy us. People would have to be barred from hunting. We would be anxious to put a message out that this is unacceptable and will not happen again. Ultimately, masters take responsibility."

An employee of the hunt, Noel Murphy, denied the allegations. "It is completely untrue. We have acted within the legislation that we have. The hounds caught the fox in the earth and when it was brought up it was dead. We're very outraged with this allegation. There are jobs on the line because of this allegation. We are taking this very seriously. The IMFHA are in constant contact with us about this."

He added: "There is no evidence of this happening, there is no photograph."

But according to a taped conversation with anti-hunting lobbyist Tom Hardiman, the landowner, Michael Murray, who was present during this part of the hunt said he saw incidences of animal cruelty.


"They tied the rope to his leg and pulled him out of the burrow and fed him straight to the dogs. They ate the fox alive. I didn't realise that they were going to do that."

When contacted by the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Murray said he had no comment to make. "I did tell people about it, but at the moment I am making no comment."

When asked whether he saw a live fox being dug out of a hole and fed to the dogs he said: "At the moment I am making no comment on it. I like foxhunting and have nothing against it. "

Mr Hardiman of the Ban Bloodsports pressure group said. "They say they have a code of practice but they are breaking all their own rules."

Photos: Fox hunting cruelty

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Foxhunting: More information

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