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"It's unnecessary suffering. It's as simple as that": Ward Union cruelty condemned at meeting
07 May 2010

A Trinity College law professor has condemned the Ward Union deerhunt as "a gratuitous act" of cruelty. Speaking at a public meeting last Monday, Prof William Binchy, said that it was "so clear" that the deer terrorised in the hunt are subjected to unnecessary suffering.

"The issue that we have today about the proposed legislation [to ban the hunt] seems to me to be a tremendously simple one," Professor Binchy stated. "Do we need science to tell us that chasing a stag for 63 minutes or two hours or three hours causes unnecessary suffering to the stag? I think really it's so clear...Unquestionably they suffer. Where is the necessity under these circumstances? It's a gratuitous act. It's unnecessary suffering. It's as simple as that. All other questions, I would respectfully say, are secondary to that."

Prof Binchy went on to praise the people of Ireland for their long history of "introducing and encouraging the introduction of legislation against cruelty".

"Ireland appears to be have been the first English-speaking country in which anti-cruelty legislation was initiated," he revealed. "In 1635 an Act was put forward which was designed to stop the pulling of ploughs by horses with their tails and also the pulling of wool from sheep - plucking it from sheep rather than shearing. In a couple of sentences those practices were condemned. It's interesting to note that the practice of pulling wool off sheep was simply seen by the legislators as cruel and should be stopped on that basis. The pulling of ploughs by the horses' tails was seen as cruel unquestionably but also damaging to the horses."

Listen to Prof William Binchy's Speech

Download the speech (11 minutes, mp3)
(Recorded by Thomas Janak of Wild Time Radio)

Also speaking at the meeting was Veterinary Surgeon, Finbarr Heslin who criticised the Ward Union for the suffering caused to the deer. He slammed past Department of Agriculture reports which had defended the hunt and particularly rubbished the 97/98 Kane/Guthrie report which bizarrely claimed that "the health of the deer did not appear to be affected in either the short or the long-term after hunting." He noted that this was in stark contrast to an earlier damning report from Kane which described the hunt as inhumane.

Mr Heslin was also critical of a pledge by Fine Gael to repeal the legislation if they got into government in future. The party should stop "Green bashing", he remarked, and canvass their own supporters, among which a majority would be opposed to hunting.

Commenting on recent pro-blood sports statements from the IFA and ICMSA, Socialist MEP and long-time ICABS friend, Joe Higgins, called on farming groups to “carefully consider” their stance, given the fact that they are dependent on “millions of us buying their produce”.

Deputy Green Party Leader and Minister of State for Rural Affairs, Mary White, assured attendees that the Wildlife Amendment Act was designed “to ensure it can survive legal challenge”. She announced that it was expected in the Dail by the end of this month.

Responding to a question from broadcaster Karen Coleman (who chaired the meeting) about Fianna Fail support for the Bill, Minister White said that Fianna Fail "voted unanimously to support the programme for government, which includes the ban on stag hunting”.

Also speaking in favour of a ban on the Ward Union was award-winning author John Banville. Mr Banville who won the Man Booker Prize for "The Sea" had previously expressed his support for a ban on coursing, saying "I'm utterly against the foul practice of hare coursing."

Addressing the meeting from the audience was Independent TD, Maureen O'Sullivan who expressed her full support for the ban and her continued commitment to campaigning against cruelty. Finian McGrath, TD also committed to voting in favour of the bill when it comes before the Dail.

Noel Gregory, brother of the late Tony Gregory, TD, spoke of Tony's valuable contribution to the campaign over the years and said that cruelty to animals was only a step away from cruelty to people.

Chairman of the Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass, Philip Lynch, emphasised his organisation's support for a ban on the Ward Union and the inclusion of hunting dogs in the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill. He highlighted the suffering caused to farmers by trespassing hunts and recommended that they go draghunting on their own land.

ICABS congratulates the Irish Animals Forum for organising this successful meeting, Karen Coleman for expertly chairing the event, and all the speakers for their informative and inspiring speeches. A special thank you also to everyone who attended, both individuals and representatives of animal welfare groups.

Read an Irish Times report about the event
See also: Hunt is illegal, say eminent legal experts

Major Public Meeting RE Deerhunt Ban
29 April 2010

On Monday, May 3rd, a major public meeting will take place at 12 mid-day in the Royal College of Physicians, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, with a panel of eminent speakers opposed to the Ward Union Hunt. Please attend this important event. For more information, please visit the Irish Animals Forum website.

Speaking at the event will be:

Prof William Binchy, Regius Professor of Law, Trinity College, Dublin
John Banville, Author
Mary White TD, Green Party Minister Dept. of Equality Integration and Human Rights
Joe Higgins, Irish Socialist Party, M.E.P
Finbarr Heslin, Veterinary Surgeon

The purpose of the meeting is to gain support and backing for the proposed legislation (see below) to outlaw the Ward Union Hunt, which is due to be debated in the Dail before the summer recess. So your presence is vital on the day. We need to ensure a strong and united front if this long awaited and much needed legislation is to be enacted. We very much look forward to seeing you on the day.

Date: Monday, May 3, 2010
Time: 12 mid-day
Venue: Royal College of Physicians, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Majority support a ban on Ward Union
22 April 2010

An opinion poll carried out by the Irish Times has found that at least two out of every three people support legislation that will ban the Ward Union deerhunt. The hunt was described by those who voted in the poll as "unjustifiable", "uncivilised", "disgusting", "inhumane" and "barbaric". ICABS has brought the result to the attention of all TDs to remind them of the majority opposition across Ireland to the hunt.

The Irish Times poll asked "Do you support the introduction of a ban on hunting deer with packs of dogs?". A majority of 65 per cent voted YES. ICABS believes the number would have been even higher if the poll had remained open yesterday evening and last night.

When we asked the Times why people were unable to cast a vote from early evening on Wednesday, we were told that they were "experiencing a technical problem with all our polls over-night" and that this wasn't resolved until Thursday morning.

We believe that this prevented many more people from voting YES in favour of a ban. Those involved in hunting (who are free to go out for hours terrorising animals two, three or more times a week) are clearly more likely to be able to vote during non-working hours.

ICABS has thanked the Irish Times for conducting this poll and recording the fact that a majority of Irish people are opposed to the Ward Union and want it banned.


Please send "I support a ban on the Ward Union" to Environment Minister, John Gormley, and An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen - Send email now Ask all your friends, work colleagues, neighbours and family members who are against blood sports to support this action alert. Thank you.


Please contact your local TDs today and encourage them to vote in favour of the upcoming legislation. Tell them that their attitude towards animal issues and their commitment to bringing animal cruelty to an end will be a major factor in your voting decision.

Why not also arrange a meeting with your local politicians to discuss your concerns about animal cruelty and encourage them to take action.

Address your correspondence to:
Dáil Éireann
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2.

Find out the names of your TDs and their email addresses

Dear Deputy

I am writing to urge you to vote in favour of the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 which will outlaw the Ward Union deerhunt.

The unacceptable suffering caused to animals by this hunt is clearly presented in a new Irish Council Against Blood Sports leaflet which can be viewed at

I also encourage you to watch the following ICABS videos which explicitly show the cruelty: and

Deputy, I am one of the majority of the electorate who abhor animal cruelty. I want to see the Ward Union banned. Please do the right thing and vote in favour of the legislation.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,


Previous poll found that Meath majority wants Ward Union banned
6 November 2007

A majority of people in Meath want Minister John Gormley to refuse a licence to the Ward Union hunt. According to a poll carried out by the Meath Post, nearly two thirds of residents in the Royal County now want the cruel hunt ended.

The poll also found that only around a quarter of locals want the hunt to continue while nine per cent of those polled said that they didn't know.

Pie chart showing majority want Ward Union hunt banned
The results of a Meath Post opinion poll confirm that a majority of Meath residents want the Ward Union banned.

The Bill that will ban carted deer hunting
20 April 2010

Environment Minister, John Gormley, has today published the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 which will "ban the practice of stag hunting with a pack of hounds". The publication of the bill marks a historic day in the campaign against blood sports in Ireland. Please contact your local TDs now and encourage them to vote in favour of the Bill.

Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010

Statement from Minister Gormley / Department of the Environment

Gormley Publishes Bill to Ban Deer Hunting with Dogs


Mr. John Gormley T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today (20 April) published the Bill to prohibit deer hunting with packs of dogs.

The renewed Programme for Government included a commitment to bring forward legislation to ban the practice of deer hunting with packs of dogs.    The Minister said, "I am pleased that I am in a position to implement another commitment in the renewed Programme for Government, in this instance to ban the practice of deer hunting with packs of hounds.   The Government has decided that this particular hunting practice should cease for animal welfare and public safety reasons."     The Minister added that a large proportion of the Irish public considers that this activity is no longer acceptable anymore.

The Minister said that the purpose of the Bill was to ban the practice of deer hunting with hounds and to increase the maximum fines for wildlife related offences.    "I want to emphasise, despite much comment to the contrary, that this legislation will have no implications for other country pursuits such as fox-hunting, hare-hunting, hare coursing or deer stalking."

The Minister proposes to present the Bill to the Dáil shortly with the intention that it will be enacted before the summer recess. 

“I look forward to an informed, structured debate in the Dail and Seanad on this Bill.  I also look forward to the opportunity to dispel many of the inaccuracies and incorrect claims that have been made in recent weeks about  this legislation,” ended Minister Gormley.


Section 4 provides for increased penalties for offences under the Wildlife Acts. Maximum fines are being increased such that on summary conviction the maximum fine is increased to €1,000 from £500 for a first offence, to €2,000 from £1,000 for a second offence and to €5,000 from £1,500 for a third or subsequent offence. The maximum fine for conviction on indictment is increased to €100,000 from £50,000. These fines were last increased in 2000. There are no changes in maximum times of imprisonment terms.

These are;
A first offence €1,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months.
A second offence €2,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.
A third or subsequent offence €5,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.
On indictment €100,000 and/or imprisonment  for a term not exceeding 2 years.

The Cruelty of Carted Deer Hunting

The cruelty of carted deer hunting

A selection of images showing the cruelty of carted deer hunting.
To enlarge an image, simply click on it.

Videos: Carted deer hunting cruelty

More information about carted deer hunting

Carted deer hunting: Leaflet | Photos | Videos | Petition

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