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Tony Gregory questions Ministers about foxhunt cruelty
6 December 2007

ICABS Vice-president, Tony Gregory, TD has questioned the Agriculture and Justice Ministers about "allegations of extreme cruelty to animals" during a foxhunt in County Westmeath.

Please see below for the two Dail Questions along with the replies.

Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 520 - Answered on 4th December, 2007

Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will request a report from the Garda authorities on the allegations of extreme cruelty to animals (featured in the Irish Independent on 23rd November 2007 involving the Westmeath Foxhounds Club); and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Written reply.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Lenihan): I am informed that a complaint regarding the incident referred to was received by the Garda authorities and is under active investigation. As this is an ongoing Garda investigation it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Question 416 - Answered on 4th December, 2007

Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will request a report from her Department officials on allegations (serious breaches of the agreed code of conduct by Westmeath Foxhounds Club featured in the Irish Independent on 23rd November 2007); the action she is taking; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Written reply. Ref No: 31992/07 Proof: 489

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Mary Coughlan) By way of background, I should point out that the Hunting Association of Ireland (HAI), which encompasses bodies that represent organised fox hunting in Ireland has in place rules and procedures which apply in particular to the practices of digging out, bolting and earthstopping. This initiative was taken after my Department had conveyed to the bodies its concern about such practices. The bodies concerned have also given specific written assurances that they are committed to ensuring compliance with and enforcement of these measures and to imposing sanctions on anyone found not to have complied with them.

As regards the matter referred to in the Question, I have received preliminary information about the incident and I have asked my officials to meet with the HAI to discuss the matter further.

In this regard, the Deputy will be aware that while my statutory powers currently extend only to farm animals, matters such as those involved here are governed by the Wildlife Acts and the Protection of Animals Acts. I am fully committed to promoting good practices that respect the welfare of all animals and my Department is currently progressing a number of animal welfare-related commitments from the Programme for Government including consolidation of responsibility for the welfare of all animals (including non-farm animals) within my Department and the introduction of a comprehensive Animal Welfare Bill to update existing animal welfare legislation.

Please click on the link to view more Dail Q and A

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

Please click on the pictures to view them in full-size.

Foxhunting: More information

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