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Deputy Clare Daly looks forward to day when blood sports are banned
08 July 2011

Clare Daly, TD says she and Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan "look forward to the day when coursing, fur farming, fox hunting and all such activities are banned". She made the statement during a debate on the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011 before going on to highlight some of the victims of greyhound racing in Ireland.

Deputy Daly, who is currently pushing for a ban on hare coursing, condemned bloodsports as activities that "have, at their core, deliberate and wilful cruelty to animals, including death".

You can read the full text of her statement below:

Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011: Second Stage
Thursday, 30 June 2011

Deputy Clare Daly: My Technical Group colleague, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, has asked me to apologise on her behalf as she is unfortunately unable to contribute to the debate. Like me, she welcomes all initiatives that promote animal welfare and looks forward to the day when coursing, fur farming, fox hunting and all such activities are banned. All these so-called sports have, at their core, deliberate and wilful cruelty to animals, including death. Deputy O'Sullivan also makes the point that while she would welcome the Bill if it genuinely tackled the issue of greyhound welfare, she is slightly concerned that Bord na gCon has expressed support for the legislation. This is especially the case given, as Deputy Stanley noted, the role Bord na gCon played in the proposal to export greyhounds to China. It is appalling that Ireland could be involved in such an activity. I hope the plans to export greyhounds to China will be stalled indefinitely.

There is no doubt that attention must be paid to the welfare of greyhounds. While it would also make economic sense for the greyhound industry to give priority to welfare issues, sadly the reality suggests otherwise. When the lobby was under way to exclude greyhounds from the dog breeding establishments legislation, it was argued that the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 was sufficient to protect, regulate and monitor the welfare of greyhounds. We must examine this argument more closely. Since the 1958 Act was introduced, a large number of greyhounds have suffered appalling treatment in this country. The argument that the legislation in question protects greyhounds belies the reality.

I propose to cite some examples of cases involving cruelty. There is not a county which has not come to the fore as a result of a scandal involving the mistreatment of greyhounds. In many cases, greyhounds are kept in poor conditions, confined to sheds or barns without light and proper heating and do not receive proper care and attention. Many have been found lying malnourished on concrete, having been denied adequate care. The welfare of animals, specifically greyhounds which do not make the grade, is secondary to the commercial side of the greyhound industry.

Statistics showing that 10,000 dogs were put down last year are an indictment of society. A large number of the 27 dogs put down daily are greyhounds which breeders do not want because they do not make the grade. It is indicative of the inadequacy of regulation that so many of the greyhounds in Britain are bred in Ireland. The media regularly reports on cases of mistreatment of animals and the misuse of greyhounds. In 2010, for instance, the media highlighted a case in which greyhounds, being a relatively tame breed of dog, were used as bait in County Tipperary during the training phase for fighting dogs to give them a taste for blood and practice in fighting. We have also learned of instances in virtually every county of mutilated and abandoned dogs being found wandering the streets with weights tied around their necks, having had their ears cut off to avoid identification.

While wanton cruelty is one aspect of the multi-million euro greyhound industry, another aspect of the business is the use of drugs. A significant number of greyhounds have tested positive for ecstasy, cocaine and viagra, which causes deep trauma for the dogs in question. Abandoned dogs and the use of drugs are aspects of the greyhound business which provide a different picture of the glowing accounts one hears from spokespersons of the industry.

The number of greyhounds being bred in Ireland gives an idea of what the business involves. On average, 35,000 greyhound pups are born in 4,500 litters every year. Of the 35,000 greyhounds born in 2007, only 23,000 were earmarked and tattooed 16 weeks later and only 20,000 of these were given identity cards, making them, if one likes, eligible for racing. What happened to the greyhounds which did not appear on any books or in a race? Clearly, a large number of the 20,000 dogs with identity cards did not make the grade and were discarded on the basis that they did not have commercial value. There have been shocking and repeated cases of vicious mutilations being carried out, the most popular method being the removal of dogs' ears to avoid identification before being abandoned. This practice has been carried out using battery acid, blow torches and other means as people try to avoid the identification of the dog. In other cases, dogs have had their throats cut or have been dumped in rivers having had weights tied to them. These activities have taken place in every county, albeit in some counties more than others, despite the protection of the 1958 Act. That such cases have occurred serves as a warning and demonstrates a clear deficit in the legislation. It also vindicates the position that legislation alone is insufficient to deal with animal welfare and shows that enforcement needs to be examined.

The Bill states that greyhound keepers and those involved in handling greyhounds shall not cause or permit unnecessary suffering or injury to a greyhound. This is a welcome provision, on which all Deputies should be able to agree. The shortcoming in the legislation is that it relies largely on self-regulation, with the greyhound industry responsible for registering and monitoring the new register for breeding establishments and so forth. It is also under the supervision of the Irish Coursing Club and the local authorities. A huge number of organisations have a role so there is potential for a lack of clarity about who really has the overall responsibility. It is unclear in the legislation.

I welcome the fact that the local authorities have a role in this, but that must be weighed against the massive reduction in resources with which local authorities are operating. There is a contradiction in piling more responsibility onto the authorities at the same time as their resources are being cut. Given that the recruitment ban does not allow them to replace the staff they have lost, how are they expected to take on this responsibility in the serious way that is necessary? I do not see how they can. My experience with how local authorities deal with stray dogs and so forth is that they are already stretched to the limit and can just about maintain the status quo, not to mention take on another serious function in terms of regulating the greyhound industry or playing a more serious role in that regard. That is something the Minister must examine. I do not support the embargo on recruitment in the public sector. It is costly and does not work. It has to be reconsidered. If the Minister is serious about giving the local authorities a role in this area, that must be resourced and that will impact on the recruitment embargo.

Much of the cruelty greyhounds experience does not occur in the kennels. The problem mainly arises from over-breeding, which is linked to racing, and the inevitable disposal of the unwanted greyhounds. There are also problems with the tracks, such as the drugs, the injuries and collisions in the racing and what happens to those animals, the unsafe running surfaces and so forth. Bord na gCon is a semi-State company and it has been charged with carrying out inspections for the past 50 years or so. It already has the legal power to deal with many of the issues that cause welfare to be jeopardised but it has not used it. That is a real problem.

I come from the semi-State sector and usually I would defend it. However, it has been in the limelight recently as a result of the disgraceful amounts being paid to its top executives. It is just not good enough that Bord na gCon should be in existence for 50 years and have these responsibilities, yet the litany of abuses I have outlined and which are well documented have taken place on its watch. This is a crucial issue the Minister must address. The legislation is fine, although there is a lack of clarity about who will take overall responsibility, but nobody believes it will be a panacea. If the objectives of improving the animals' welfare are to be achieved, it must be backed up with resources, particularly at local authority level. A good example of where that took place was when the limelight was focused on the Smithfield horse market. Since that occurred there has been far tighter enforcement at that market. We have seen the results with fewer horses being traded and more proactive responses.

Overall, measures such as restricting the litters, trying to professionalise the registration and so forth are welcome but there must be more in the context of animal welfare issues in general. There is a view among many in society who care deeply about these issues that perhaps this Government is trying to row back on some commitments given previously on improving our standards with regard to fur farming, the threat to reverse the ban on stag hunting and so forth. As other Deputies have said, this is an issue many people feel strongly about; they want animal welfare to be addressed in a serious way.

It is often said, understandably, that the country is in tatters. Internationally, Ireland is like Greece, despite what the Government says. We are in a precarious situation where many of our citizens are suffering horrendous problems. Some might ask why people are even wasting their time talking about animal welfare issues when such vast problems are affecting humans. The reality is that the two are not contradictory. All those issues should be addressed, and dealing with animal welfare issues is long overdue. In some ways they are legacy issues which should have been addressed previously. Whether we are economically successful or going through a recession or depression, it is no justification for tolerating cruelty and wilful neglect of animals or anybody else.

A civilised society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. I believe there is a correlation between the way this Government is targeting the most vulnerable citizens and how there is a certain rowing back on some animal welfare issues. This side of the House will not allow that to happen.

Read the entire debate at:

Clare Daly, TD "pushing for an outright ban" on coursing
07 July 2011

Socialist Party TD, Clare Daly, has said that she is "pushing for an outright ban" on hare coursing and urging Minister Jimmy Deenihan to refuse a licence for another season of the blood sport.

Minister Deenihan is currently considering an application by the Irish Coursing Club to net thousands of hares from the wild for use as live lures before greyhounds. Please urgently respond to our action alert below and demand that this application is rejected.

A big thank you to Deputy Daly for her efforts to bring coursing cruelty to an end in Ireland.


Contact Minister Deenihan now and urge him to refuse the coursing licence.

Jimmy Deenihan, TD
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
23 Kildare Street
Dublin 2

[with a copy to An Taoiseach]
Tel: (01) 631 3802
Fax: (01) 661 1201

(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, feel free to send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)

Dear Minister Deenihan,

I am one of the majority of Irish citizens who want hare coursing outlawed. I am writing to urge you to refuse a licence to the Irish Coursing Club.

In coursing, hares suffer and die at all stages - during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity and during the coursing meetings where they run for their lives in front of greyhounds. Among the injuries recorded are broken legs, damaged toes and dislocated hips.

I ask you to please act on the wishes of the majority, show compassion and refuse to licence this cruelty.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,


Socialist Party support for ban on hare coursing
15 April 2011

Socialist Party TD, Clare Daly, has said that the party is in favour of a ban on hare coursing and will oppose any attempt to bring back stag hunting in Ireland.

"We in the Socialist Party oppose stag hunting and the inherent cruelty of hunting animals purely for human enjoyment," Deputy Daly stated in an email. "We will oppose any attempt to overturn the ban from within the Dail."

She added: "We also support the banning of hare coursing and we would be in favour of legislation which aimed to do so."

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports welcomes this positive statement as we continue to press all parties to support legislation banning blood sports.

Socialist Party TD, Joe Higgins has previously called on the Environment Minister to refuse licences for coursing. "I am opposed to the hunting of foxes by hounds as indeed I am opposed to live hare coursing," Deputy Higgins is on record as saying.

In 2007, as a Councillor, Clare Daly proposed a successful motion to ban the use of wild animals in circuses on land owned by Fingal County Council. The final wording of the agreed motion was: "That Fingal County Council support the introduction of by-laws or other measures which would ensure that circuses which use wild animals are prohibited from performing in any part of the local authority area, in light of the well-documented evidence of suffering endured by the animals involved and the serious animal welfare issues raised."


Contact all your local TDs and urge them to support legislation banning coursing, foxhunting and all blood sports. Tell them that you want them to oppose any attempt to reverse the widely welcomed ban on stag hunting.

Find out the name of your TDs and their Email addresses.

Write to your TDs at:
Dáil Éireann
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2.

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