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No agreement to reverse Ward Union hunt ban, says Labour
24 March 2011

In a Sunday Times article last weekend (March 20th), a spokesperson for the Labour Party stated that the Ward Union ban should not be reversed. He was quoted as saying: "There is no commitment in the programme for government to reverse the legislation and our view on it remains the same as it was in the election campaign; that is, it has been passed and should not be reversed."

This was in response to a quoted statement from Meath TD Shane McEntee, and recently appointed Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture, that "the legislation will be reversed as Fine Gael said it would during the election campaign. Thereís an understanding between Fine Gael and the Labour Party on this."

However the Labour Party spokesperson told the Times that he didnít know where Shane McEntee got the impression there was an agreement between the parties on lifting the ban.

He also insisted that there is no agreement between the parties that any changes to the legislation would be left to the minister responsible. "In any case," he added. "The line minister can only produce legislation, but it all still has to be passed by cabinet."

ICABS welcomes Labourís clear statement on the issue. Please scroll down for our related action alert.

Ban reversal "will be a matter for discussion": Brendan Howlin
18 March 2011

Labour Party Minister, Brendan Howlin, has stated on national radio that any move to reverse the ban on cruel carted deer hunting "will be a matter for discussion". His statement follows a pre-election assurance from Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore, that the party accepted the ban and wouldn't support a reversal.

Mr Howlin, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, was speaking on the Pat Kenny Radio Show. A transcript appears below. After reading, please urgently contact the Labour Party and its TDs and urge them to reject any attempt to reverse the staghunt ban.

Interview on Pat Kenny Radio Show with Brendan Howlin (Labour) and Phil Hogan (Fine Gael)
7th March 2011
Listen to the show

Pat Kenny: Stag hunting, have you reconciled your differences?

Brendan Howlin: We have in as much as itís not in the programme.

Pat Kenny: So youíre going to let it be.

Phil Hogan: No, I think that, Pat, the position in relation to stag hunting is left to the line minister to establish the licensing arrangements for that particular matter in line with our manifesto.

Pat Kenny: In line with your manifesto, which is to...?

Phil Hogan: Yeah, we have an understanding on that with the Labour Party.

Pat Kenny: An understanding. Are you going to tell us what it is?

Brendan Howlin: The understanding - we have no commitment to do anything in relation to it.

Pat Kenny: One way or the other?

Brendan Howlin: We have negotiated that there would be no binding commitment in the programme for government on that matter.

Pat Kenny: So if it comes up, if the line minister decides he wants to reverse it?

Brendan Howlin: Thatíll be a matter for discussion, Iím sure.

Pat Kenny: At the time. So itís still hanging there.


Please urgently contact the leader of the Labour Party and your local Labour TDs. Urge them to reject any attempt to reverse the staghunt ban.

Eamon Gilmore TD
Labour Party Leader
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade
Dail Eireann
Dublin 2

Tel: 01 6183566 (Dail)
Fax: 01 6184574
Mobile: 087 2200495

For details of Labour Party TDs, please visit and choose TDs in the "Find By Category" dropdown list.

The Labour Party
17 Ely Place
Dublin 2
Tel: 01 678 4700
Fax: 01 661 2640

Labour Party won't reverse staghunt ban: Eamon Gilmore
21 February 2011

Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, has re-iterated that the party will not support a reversal of the ban on staghunting, if they form part of the next government. Speaking on the Today with Pat Kenny radio show on 18th February, Mr Gilmore stated: "We do not believe in reversing the legislation. The legislation was passed. We accept that. We won't reverse it."

Listen to Eamon Gilmore's statement
Today with Pat Kenny radio show, 18th February 2011
Listen Online
Download as mp3, 48 seconds

Eamon Gilmore had previously given a similar assurance on the Marian Finucane radio show last October.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports welcomes this latest confirmation that, unlike Fine Gael, the Labour Party will not try to reverse the ban.

See the Labour Party's list of election candidates at
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We won't reverse staghunt ban - Labour Leader
05 October 2010

Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, has announced that if his party gets into government after the next election, they will not reverse the ban on staghunting.

Speaking on the Marian Finucane radio show on October 2nd, Mr Gilmore stated that the party "won't reverse the decision" and that they "will stick with the ban on staghunting".

Mr Gilmore was one of the majority of Labour Party TDs who voted against the ban in June. It finally passed by a majority of 75 votes to 71, thus banning the cruel Ward Union deer hunt.

ICABS welcomes this confirmation that, unlike Fine Gael, the Labour Party will not try to reverse the ban. We are calling on the party to give a commitment that if they get into government, they will ban hare coursing and foxhunting.

You can hear Eamon Gilmore's statement by clicking on the link below
Listen Online
Download as mp3, 43 seconds

Video: Carted deer hunting cruelty

The Labour Party will not support a reversal of a ban on this disgusting animal cruelty. Fine Gael has pledged, in its manifesto, that they will reverse the ban.

Fine Gael will bring back deer hunting cruelty

The following list details just some of the suffering that carted deer hunting caused to deer before the cruel activity was outlawed in 2010. In its election manifesto, Fine Gael says it will bring back carted deer hunting. The Labour Party says it will not support any such reversal of the ban.

"In January 1999, Irish Council Against Blood Sports monitors obtained the first ever photographic and video evidence of the cruelty of the Ward Union carted deer hunt. Available to view in the videos and gallery pages of, it shows a terrified and exhausted stag, having been pursued across countryside for one and a half hours and cornered in a field by a pack of hounds. An ICABS cameraman raced to the scene and managed to film the terrified stag under pressure from hounds and being bitten. A number of hunt supporters manhandled the stag to the ground, and the exhausted animal with blood on its mouth and its tongue hanging out, was dragged away down a laneway through a farmyard and pushed into a cart." (Irish Council Against Blood Sports report, 1999)
During a Ward Union hunt in December 2009, a hunted deer jumped on to a road, was struck by a car, smashed into its windscreen and suffered a broken leg. The animal was put down. The occupants of the car were left badly shaken according to a relative speaking on RTE's Liveline radio show. The Irish Times of December 19, 2009 reported on the collision as follows "An incident occurred last Friday week which will only strengthen Gormley’s view that it should be banned. At 1.30pm a stag collided with the windscreen of a car on the Slane-to- Ashbourne road near Ashbourne. The animal broke a leg and was put down."
On 25 November 2008, a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger monitoring the Ward Union hunt reported that he was forced to "brake hard" to avoid a collision with a hunted deer. The ranger said he "narrowly avoided killing" the animal.
In a veterinary report submitted to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a veterinary surgeon monitoring a hunt at Scurlogstown, County Meath during the 2006-07 season, reveals that a deer "died as a result of 'dry drowning' having fallen into a quarry." The vet mentioned other deer that suffered injuries during the season. Five deer had "slight lameness" and two had "skin abrasions", he said.
In an official report dealing with the 2004-05 Ward Union season (obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act), details are provided about an 8-year-old deer that dropped dead after trying to escape. The death occurred after the creature was hunted for approximately one and a half hours. The following provides a harrowing glimpse into the deer's final minutes of life... "the stag...jumped over a 5 foot in height wall into the cottage garden, following which 3 nominated handlers entered the garden through a side gate. The stag, in full view of two of the handlers then attempted to escape from the garden by attempting unsuccessfully to scale a higher wall (approximately 8-9 feet high) before being captured on his feet by the three nominated handlers...The stag was held for approximately five minutes by the handlers as they waited for the deer cart to arrive, following which he suddenly dropped dead...The cause of death was due to a ruptured aorta."
A report in the Irish Times revealed that a stag being pursued by the Ward Union hunt was forced to swim across the River Boyne in a desperate bid to escape. The stag went into the river near Navan during a hunt on December 30th 2008 during a chase involving "50 huntsmen and huntswomen on horseback, in addition to some Ward Union staff...and a pack of hounds". (from "Stag escapes from Meath hunters by swimming river", Irish Times, December 31, 2008)
A farmer who phoned in to RTE's Liveline show following the chasing of a Ward Union deer into a school playground, said he had never before seen "an animal so shook looking". "I pitied him," the farmer said. "He was covered in a lather of sweat and his tongue was hanging out." When he questioned the hunt about their behaviour, he said they told him to "F*** off." (Liveline Radio Show, RTE, January 2007)
A Ward Union deer was choked to death in a wood, the Irish Farmers Journal has revealed. The death occurred at the end of a hunt and is one of the fatalities caused by the Ward Union "over the last few years", the newspaper reported. (From a report highlighted on the Irish Council Against Blood Sports website, 2007)
Two deer were hounded to their deaths by the Ward Union hunt during the 2004-05 season. The deer deaths were recorded in a Department of Agriculture report obtained by ICABS under the Freedom of Information Act. A veterinary inspector from the Department highlighted in the report how one deer died from fractured ribs while another died from a ruptured aortic aneurism.
According to a Department of Agriculture report obtained by ICABS, a deer hounded by the Ward Union Deerhunt died when recaptured at the end of a hunt. Following a post mortem, it was found that the deer had died from a ruptured aneurism. The report concluded that it was "most likely that the physiological stress of hunting led to the rupture". (From an article in ICABS newsletter, Animal Watch, Issue 1, 2003)
A report from a Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector revealed that a deer "accidentally choked" while being captured.
"As a young Irish man living in Dunshaughlin County Meath in the 1950's as a groom, I saw many a deer put down after breaking his back as a result of having to make a jump because the hounds were at its heels. I can honestly say it was not a pretty sight. Whilst at home a few years ago the hunt came by and to see the reaction of the huntsmen on the Dublin / Navan road galloping up and down was unbelievable." (From a comment on the Irish Times website, Joe Dowd, United Kingdom, December 2009)
The quotes in this section are extracts from the Kane Report on the Ward Union The conclusions of Veterinary Inspector, Kieran Kane are utterly damning of the Ward Union...

"The transportation of the stags in the cart is inhumane in its manner and in the design of the cart. The enlargement of the stags is inhumane in that they are ejected suddenly into a strange environment and alone. A stag which has been hunted previously appears, before the hunt starts, to be distressed and aware that he is about to be hunted again. Stags being hunted appear to be terrified of the hounds. A stag is aware when he is being hunted and continues to flee even when the hounds are far behind. Stags are sometimes wounded or injured during hunts by physical incidents or by the hounds. Stags are terrified by people and motor vehicles during the hunt. Stags are apparently distressed and exhausted towards the end of hunts and will hide and lie down at this stage. At the end of the hunt the fact that a man can catch and hold him would seem to be adequate evidence of physical exhaustion by the stag. The handling of the stag when taken at the end of a hunt must be terrifying and stressful to the animal." (Kane Report)

"Nervousness of stags in the cart prior to hunts was variable...with some appearing very nervous or stressed. At one hunt it was notable that of the two stags in the cart, one which had been hunted previously was showing body tremors, excessive salivation and panting."

"A farmer who saw, at very close range, the stag at bay on 7th February told me that it was bleeding from one leg; also I was informed by Hunt staff that some stags are given antibiotic treatment after hunts if they have injuries such as wounds or swollen limbs." (Kane Report)

"On two hunts on which the route of the stag was traced well on a half inch map, it was calculated that one stag had run at least 8 miles and the other at least 12 miles." (Kane Report)

"A stag which has been hunted before is, presumably, aware that he is about to be followed by hounds and runs from fear: indeed it is notable that the stag runs although the hounds are not yet on his trail. In the early stages of the hunt the stag runs constantly but as the hunt progresses he may stop running and hide or even lie down and it is at this stage that the hounds may catch up with him." (Kane Report)

"A major hazard encountered by stags is barbed wire. One stag was seen attempting to jump a very fence and getting his front leg caught on a top strand of barbed wire and hanging, thus suspended, for some seconds before his struggles and/or weight tore him free." (Kane Report)

"Stags are frightened by people and motor vehicles when they cross public roads, which they frequently do during hunts.

"A stag observed, down to 30 yards range through binoculars, having run at least 8 miles in 90 minutes showed extreme physical distress, panting through its mouth and with a lather of white foam around its muzzle." (Kane Report)

"I was informed by two eye-witnesses that hounds, although chary of a stag at bay, will attempt to bite him." (Kane Report)

"Stags are hunted until about 9 years of age at which time they may get "stiff" or fail in condition and I was told that they are then sold or exchanged with commercial deer farms or slaughtered for venison." (Kane Report)

"Domesticated Red Deer are obviously completely unfit for a prolonged chase by hounds. A recent scientific report in England has concluded that wild Red Deer are physiologically unable for a prolonged chase by hounds." (Kane Report)

In December 2003, ICABS monitors filmed and photographed a Ward Union deer at the end a hunt. The injured animal was seen panting for breath. There was blood on its head. Photos taken on the day can be viewed in our Gallery Page, including this one showing an injured deer with blood on its head
"Of course the stag suffers. I saw the hounds attack the hind quarters of the legs of the poor, unfortunate animal. It's horrific to see the end of the hunt." (Fianna Fail Meath Councillor, Noel Leonard, on his opposition to the Ward Union hunt, Meath Chronicle, 9th January 2010)

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