Ward Union "putting people’s lives at risk"
17 February 2010
Green Party Deputy Leader Mary White has said she supports the upcoming ban on the Ward Union as the hunt is "putting people’s lives at risk" and terrorising deer. The Carlow TD added that hunters "have been grossly exaggerating the effect the ban will have on the equine industry".
Deputy White made the statements in an opinion piece in the latest edition of The Informer. The full text of her statement appears below.
Should Stag Hunting Be banned? YES
The Green Party is strong on animal welfare policy. Some of our voters are animal-lovers who vote for us specifically on our policy of banning blood sports, banning fur-farming and ensuring animals are treated in a humane manner whether in farming or in institutions like zoos.
The issue of stag hunting however steps outside the simple issue of animal cruelty. It bypasses the boundaries of a particular political party’s policy. It affects all people living, working and driving around an area where stag hunting regularly takes place. And it must not be rolled into a debate on fishing, shooting and foxhunting. It is one of safety.
In January 2007, a stag chased during a hunt, leaped into a school yard of a Kildalkey school, terrorising the parents who were waiting there to pick up their children. In December 2009, a 300kg, five-year-old-stag collided with a car after it was chased onto a public road. Although no-one was hurt, the stag had to be destroyed.
In an increasingly urbanised countryside, particularly like the lands in Meath and North Dublin where the Ward Union hunt, it is not acceptable for a large, frightened animal to be chased through lands and roads.
Supporters of stag hunting will claim that the animal is never killed and as a wild animal, bears no ill-effect having been chased through miles and miles of countryside. But, I beg to differ. Hunted stags in Ireland are not wild.
They are farmed animals, de-horned and carted from the safety of their fenced fields to be set free in unfamiliar countryside. The physical strain on the animal is obvious. Stating that an animal, which is chased over stone walls, over barbed wire fences, over high ditches and through acres of forests and fields, and comes away from the experience perfectly unharmed, whether physically or mentally, does not make sense.
Hunt supporters cite job losses in the industry, as a reason not to implement the ban. However, I believe opponents of the ban have been grossly exaggerating the effect the ban will have on the equine industry in Ireland.
The Green Party does not shy away from the realities of rural living. Deer do need to be culled, when numbers are out of control and when damage is being done to trees or farmers’ crops. For that, we rely on the expert advice from the Parks and Wildlife Service and it is carried out in a humane way.
As a rural TD I am well aware of the importance of rural pursuits enjoyed by hundreds of Irish people and the value placed on much-loved traditions stretching back centuries. But, this is 2010.
And I find it difficult to find a place for a hunt, such as the Ward Union, taking place in the urbanised commuter counties of Dublin and Meath, putting people’s lives at risk, and terrorising the majestic animal that once graced our £1 piece.
Mary White TD is the Green Party spokesperson on Community & Rural Affairs. In 2007, she became the first Green TD to be elected in a rural constituency.
Please email "I support the banning of the Ward Union" to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live in Mary White's constituency, express your support for the ban and encourage her and the Green Party to work towards also banning hare coursing and foxhunting. Contact her at email@example.com or Tel: 01 618 3865