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Ward Union Ban: "Tony would have been proud"
01 July 2010

Independent TD and friend of ICABS, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, has said that the late Tony Gregory would have been proud of the ban on the Ward Union hunt.

On Tuesday evening, Maureen was one of the 75 TDs who voted in favour of the Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010 which banned the cruel Ward Union hunt. "It was a historic event," she later commented. "Tony would have been proud."

Thanks to Maureen, representatives of ICABS were able to witness the debate and historic final vote from the Dail's public gallery.

On the day, we remembered our ally and Vice-President Tony Gregory's enormous contribution to the campaign. Up until his untimely death in 2009, he remained at the forefront of the campaign to ban blood sports.

He accompanied us as we monitored the Ward Union and was disgusted to see the deer desperately running from the pack of hounds. In 2004, after observing a Ward Union hunt, Tony told hunt master Michael Bailey that "it's inevitable that it will be gotten rid of here. It's only a matter of time." (See transcript of conversation below)

In 2003, thanks to a Dail Question, Tony succeeded in gaining access to a report which the government had kept hidden for nearly seven years. The Kane Report proved damning of the Ward Union and greatly helped us to further expose the cruelty involved.

Over the years, Tony tabled numerous Dail Questions in relation to the hunt, unearthing incidents of suffering caused to deer. Despite his illness, he continued pressing for a ban.

Tony would rightly be proud of all his work which helped pave the way towards the day that the Ward Union was finally banned.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.

Maureen O'Sullivan TD and Noel Gregory (brother of the late Tony Gregory, TD) at an anti-coursing protest outside the Department of the Environment in August 2009. During the protest a minute's silence was observed for Tony who contributed so much the campaign over the years.

Tributes to Tony Gregory, TD (1947-2009)

Drag hunting option "a possibility": Ward Union master
06 February 2007

ICABS is today asking Minister Dick Roche to watch a Video Clip in which Ward Union hunt master, Michael Bailey, doesn't rule out the possibility of the controversial deer hunt choosing to go drag hunting instead.

This significant ICABS footage from 2004 demonstrates that the hunt is open to alternatives and should signal to Minister Roche that when he finally decides to stop licensing the Ward Union, the hunt will be willing to change.

Answering questions from ICABS campaign director, Aideen Yourell and ICABS vice-president, Tony Gregory TD, Mr Bailey is clearly receptive to the idea of replacing the abuse of deer with the humane drag hunt alternative. "I'm not saying that's not a possibility," he says.

The conversation took place following a hunt in County Meath in which a sweating deer with its tongue hanging out was seen desperately running across a field, under a wire fence and over a ditch. Also witnessed was a scene involving hunt hounds invading the garden of a local woman who shouted at them to get out.

Michael Bailey
Ward Union hunt master, Michael Bailey, after a hunt in County Meath. Speaking to ICABS representatives, he was receptive to the idea of the drag hunting alternative.

Transcript of conversation

To view the video clip, please click on the following link:

Aideen Yourell: Would you consider drag hunting?

Michael Bailey: I'm hunting since I was a child...I don't know...

Aideen Yourell: Blood hounds, drag hunting - very enjoyable.

Michael Bailey: Do you do it? I haven't seen it done so I don't know anything about it.

Tony Gregory, TD: Would you like to organise a pilot scheme?

Michael Bailey: Where would you be thinking about doing it?

Aideen Yourell: Around here! And you wouldn't have any problems with farmers because you'd have a [pre-planned course].

Michael Bailey: We don't have any problems with farmers, thank God.

Tony Gregory, TD: You had problems with some people there when the hounds went into their home earlier on in the day.

Michael Bailey: Well, I didn't see that.

Aideen Yourell: Would you not consider that?

Michael Bailey: Well it's open to anybody to consider it, I suppose.

Tony Gregory, TD: Well, hopefully you may have to consider it in due course. Most civilised countries are getting rid of this sort of thing. It's inevitable that it will be gotten rid of here. It's only a matter of time. Maybe looking at alternatives that they're doing in countries around the world is a good idea.


Aideen Yourell: Maybe we'll see you doing drag hunting then and save that poor animal all that distress and exhaustion.

Michael Bailey: I'm not saying that's not a possibility...I'm not saying that's not a possibility.

Aideen Yourell: I saw him [the stag] there in the field and it was pathetic...

Michael Bailey: Well everyone has their views.

Aideen Yourell: see a creature like that pursued and hounded like that - it's dreadful.

Michael Bailey: I like to hear your views.

Aideen Yourell: That's my view and it's the view of an awful lot of people. It's shocking when you see it like that.

Quote: Ward Union's drag hunting experience

"Pat Coyle of the Ward Union is still on his bike and will be for another week or so before the horses are called upon. He will be doing two or three drag lines a week after that. This drag is used as a training device for young hounds and to get them hunting fit, as he does not have the luxury of cubbing, like the foxhunters." (The Irish Field, September 10th, 2005)

Banned: The Ward Union carted deer hunt

View More Videos exposing the cruelty of blood sports in Ireland.

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