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Minister still entitled to refuse future Ward Union licence
07 May 2008

Environment Minister John Gormley has clarified that the settlement he reached with the Ward Union last month does not prevent him from refusing a licence to the controversial hunt next season. The Minister was responding to a Dail question from ICABS vice-president, Tony Gregory, TD.

The full text of the question and answer follows:

Question 193 - Answered on 1st May, 2008

Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the full details of his out of court settlement with a group (details supplied); the conditions by which a licence may be granted for carted deer hunting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Written reply. Ref No: 17026/08

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gormley): This settlement with the Ward Union Hunt Club provides that I, as Minister, am entitled, under the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended), to grant or refuse any application to hunt, while confirming that certain conditions included in the licence issued in December 2007 will not be re-imposed.

I will supply a copy of the settlement to the Deputy and I am happy to brief him further if requested.

For more animal-related Dail Questions and Answers, please visit our Politicians Page

Minister Gormley settles with Ward Union
24 April 2008

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has learned that Environment Minister, John Gormley, has settled out of court with the controversial Ward Union carted deer hunt. The settlement relates to conditions imposed by the Minister as part of a restricted hunting licence he issued last December.

In a statement from the Minister's office, ICABS has been told that "the terms of the settlement are that the case will be dropped, and that the Minister will not impose conditions 12 and 13 on this or future licences, should such licences be granted. There is also an agreement that decisions on future licence applications will be taken within a reasonable timeframe."

The restricted licence issued by the Green Party Minister to the hunt disallowed the use of dogs to chase the deer and prompted the hunt to seek a Judicial Review on the matter. They subsequently won an injunction, preventing the Minister from enforcing certain conditions.

For over 150 years now, the Ward Union hunt has been subjecting tame deer to a distressing ordeal, leaving them exhausted, often injured and at risk of dying from heart failure. Under the Freedom of Information Act, incidents of cruelty have been documented, such as deer dying of aneurisms; a deer choked on capture; a deer drowned in a quarry; a deer sustaining fractured ribs and dying; a deer hanging by its front leg on barbed wire; a deer clearly exhausted with its tongue hanging out and lameness in deer following hunts. These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg, we believe.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has always contended that this hunt should never have been licensed and this has now been borne out by Professors William Binchy and Clive Symmons of Trinity School of Law in a recently published legal opinion which concludes that the Ward Union hunt is "illegal" under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act, and that it shouldn't be licensed under the 1976 Wildlife Act. Our campaign to bring the Ward Union hunt to an end continues.


Restate your opposition to cruel carted deer hunting and ask Minister Gormley to deny any further licence to the Ward Union (as is his right as Environment Minister).

(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 am writing to urge you, as a Green Party Minister, to do everything in your power to prevent the Ward Union from resuming their terrorisation of deer. According to legal experts, this hunt is illegal. Please refuse further licences to this cruel hunt which a majority of people in County Meath and many more around Ireland and the world want stopped.

Thank you. I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,


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.

Videos: Carted deer hunting cruelty

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


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.

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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