Irish Rail must prosecute hunt that trespassed on to rail line
14 January 2014
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on Irish Rail/Iarnrod Eireann to prosecute a Kilkenny hunt for trespass on the Waterford to Dublin railway on Saturday 11th January. A number of hounds were killed and damage was caused to a train when it ploughed into the pack.
The rail company confirmed to the Irish Independent that the 14.50 train from Waterford to Dublin's Heuston station hit a pack of hounds on the track at Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, just after 3pm on Saturday. A spokesperson also told the paper that "to be on the track was trespassing".
In a letter to Irish Rail CEO, David Franks, ICABS urged the company to vigorously pursue the hunt responsible.
We pointed out that the company has previously assured ICABS that hunt trespass is not tolerated and that hunts caught trespassing will be prosecuted.
We also quoted from a past Irish Rail statement which acknowledged that "trespass on an operational railway can endanger the lives of both the trespassers and rail users and is considered, both by Iarnrod Eireann and the courts, as most serious."
For years, ICABS has been warning Irish Rail about the dangers posed by hunts on railway lines.
As far back as 1999 we urged the company to act to keep hunters out. We provided them with photos of mounted hunters on tracks and highlighted highly dangerous situations such as one reported in the Irish Field involving hounds owned by a Wexford hunt pursuing a fox "along the centre of the railway line with the full pack in pursuit" as a train came along the track.
Iarnrod Eireann’s then Chief Executive, Richard Fearn, responding to ICABS, stated that all hunts had been warned by the company’s district managers that trespassing by them onto tracks would be prosecuted, adding that Iarnrod Eireann "will, and has, prosecuted offenders who commit acts of trespass on the railway".
Foxhunts in this country generally have an arrogant and cavalier attitude to trespass onto other people’s property, be it private land, roads and railway tracks. They wreak havoc in the countryside, and their view seems to be that they have a God-given right to go where they please. It’s time that this was addressed and a ban introduced on their barbaric activity, which clearly causes a risk to rail and road users.
If they want to ride out in the countryside, they should change to drag hunting, where no live quarry is chased and where the route is pre-planned in conjunction with landowners’ wishes.
Were you on Saturday's 14.50 train from Waterford to Dublin Heuston which collided with and killed the hounds? Please email us if you witnessed the hunt carnage and/or have photos/video.
Urge Irish Rail to prosecute any hunt that trespasses on to railway lines. Tell the company that, in the interests of public safety, they must immediately act to prohibit hunts from coming anywhere near tracks. The company has acknowledged that a collision with animals could derail a train; they therefore must put passenger safety first and stop allowing hunts and their horses and hounds to use unattended level crossings. If you are a rail user, please point this out in your correspondence.
If you witness a hunt trespassing on rail lines, urgently contact Iarnrod Eireann. Their emergency number is 01 8555 454. After alerting Iarnrod Eireann, please send the details to ICABS. Thank you.
Waterford's News & Star newspaper (14th January) has reported that hounds killed by a train last Saturday belonged to the Kilkenny Foxhounds hunt.
The report states that two hounds were killed and damage was caused to the front of the train when it collided with the dogs near Mullinavat.
A spokesperson for Iarnrod Eireann said that the company does not allow people or animals on the line except at level crossings.
"People, animals or machinery are only permitted to cross at a designated level crossing." the spokesperson stated, adding that the site of the collision was "not a designated crossing".
Asked to comment on the incident, Kilkenny Foxhounds chairman Ned Norris told the News & Star: "I don't have much to say about it. It was just an accident that happened."
Please join us in urging Iarnrod Eireann to prosecute the Kilkenny hunt. See Action Alert above.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is also calling on Irish Rail / Iarnrod Eireann to ban hunts from using unattended level crossings.
Despite acknowledging that "animals can behave in an unpredictable fashion" and that "collisions between trains and animals have resulted in derailments", the company outlines in its "The Safe Use of Unattended Railway Level Crossings" booklet that hunts, with their horses and hounds, are free to cross unattended level crossings if the crossing is "carefully planned".
We say to Iarnrod Eireann - "With passenger safety on the line, hunts must not be trusted to be anywhere near tracks."
Urge Iarnrod Eireann to prosecute any hunt that trespasses on to railway lines. Tell the company that, in the interests of public safety, they must immediately implement a total ban on hunt horses and hounds coming on to tracks, including at unattended level crossings. If you are a rail user, please point this out in your correspondence.
If you witness a hunt trespassing on rail lines, urgently contact Iarnrod Eireann. Their emergency number is 01 8555 454. After alerting Iarnrod Eireann and the Gardai, please send the details (including any photos or video) to ICABS. Thank you.
The chairman of Athlone SPCA has described the terrible fate of a hunt hound that was left to die on a track after being hit by a train.
"I had to pick the foxhound off the railway track in Athlone last year," Billy Gallagher recalls in a message posted on the ICABS Facebook page. "A train had ran over it and broke its back. It couldn't move and a number of trains passed over the live, paralyzed dog till i picked him up and carried him to my van."
The dog, which was later put to sleep at a vets, was found suffering on the track on a Monday - the day after a foxhunt had been in the area.
"I still think about what happened," Billy said. "Fox hunting makes me sick."
Urge Iarnrod Eireann to prosecute any hunt that trespasses on to railway lines. Tell the company that, in the interests of public safety and to prevent further suffering for animals, they must immediately act to prevent hunt horses and hounds coming anywhere near tracks, including accesss to unattended level crossings.
Iarnrod Eireann contacts hunt about reported track trespass
18 October 2007
Iarnrod Eireann's Chief Safety and Security Officer has contacted a hunt in Wexford after a newspaper described how hounds chased a fox along a track as a train approached.
The move comes following a letter from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports to Iarnrod Eireann CEO, Richard Fearn in which we highlighted an Irish Field account of what happened.
The February 2006 report, which unfortunately only came to our attention recently stated: "...hounds disturbed another fox who ran in the direction of the Slaney River and then proceeded along the centre of the railway line with the full pack in pursuit. As a train came in his direction he skipped right and went to ground beside the line. Thankfully all the hounds were safely accounted for."
Thanking ICABS for bringing the article to his attention, Mr Fearn expressed regret that as the incident reportedly took place last year, no action could now be taken against the hunt in question.
However, he stressed that the hunt has been contacted by the company.
"My Chief Safety and Security Officer has written a follow-up letter to the hunt concerned highlighting our awareness of the article and advising them of the seriousness with which we will take any future examples of trespass on the railway," he said.
Earlier this year, ICABS welcomed Iarnrod Eireann's announcement that they were to contact all hunts to warn them that those caught trespassing on tracks would be prosecuted. Please help keep hunts off railway tracks by responding to our Action Alert below.
Iarnrod Eireann to contact hunts about trespass
02 March 2007
The Chief Executive of Iarnrod Eireann has announced that the company's district managers have been asked to contact their local hunts to warn them that any hunters caught trespassing on to tracks will be prosecuted.
In a letter to an ICABS Supporter in February, the national rail company's CEO, Richard Fearn, wrote: "Noting your concerns that, in particular, mounted foxhunters have trespassed on the railway lately, I have asked my district managers to contact their local hunts directly and to advise them of the seriousness of acts of trespass on the railway."
He also stressed that Iarnrod Eireann "will, and has, prosecuted offenders who commit acts of trespass on the railway".
"Trespass on an operational railway can endanger the lives of both the trespassers and rail users and is considered, both by Iarnrod Eireann and the Courts, as most serious," he added.
ICABS is very pleased with this response. Last year, the company promised to contact a single hunt after one of its members reportedly trespassed on to a track as a train approached. This latest announcement that district managers are to actively address the problem on a national scale, however, is a major step further.
ICABS has today sent Iarnrod Eireann a complete list of Ireland's registered hunting groups along with contact names, addresses and phone numbers.
We have assured the company that our efforts to convince the government to replace animal hunting with drag hunting is ongoing. "Drag hunting not only eliminates the cruelty of hunting but also ensures that the route taken by hunters avoids prohibited land, public roads and railway lines," we stated.
Rail hunter reported to Iarnrod Eireann
Animal Voice, Autumn/Winter 2005
A foxhunter who reportedly jumped over a level crossing barrier as a train approached has been reported to Iarnrod Eireann.
The hunter from the Galway Blazers Hunt was described in the Irish Field as being "amongst the best horseman to follow hounds".
The December 2002 article, which only recently came into our possession, boasted how nothing got in his way when he was following hounds.
It outlined how "one day at Craughwell...he jumped the double gates at the railway level crossing to keep with them and beat the oncoming train to it."
Such recklessness appears to be a clear breach of Iarnrod Eireann's Safety and Security guidelines which state that people "must always stop...when crossing gates are down". It also states that those who trespass onto railway lines could face a fine and/or six months in prison.
This is the just the latest account of the Galway Blazers on railway tracks and is the third time ICABS has contacted Iarnrod Eireann.
In February 2000, for example, we photographed mounted members of the hunt trotting along the tracks. Iarnrod Eireann's response to our submission was merely to issue a warning to the hunt.
This despite a previous statement from the company that "trespass remains a major concern...and it is the company's policy to prosecute trespassers."
ICABS has again called on the rail company to take action to keep hunters off the lines. Trespassing incidents pose danger not only to those trespassing but also to train drivers and passengers.
No prosecution for rail track trespass
Animal Watch, Summer 2000
Iarnrod Eireann has refused to prosecute the Galway Blazers foxhunt after they were caught trespassing on a railway line for the second time in a year.
ICABS observers present in the village of Crumlin, Co. Galway on November 16th last, photographed and filmed mounted members of the hunt and a pack of foxhounds on the tracks.
|Galway Blazers Hunt followers on railway tracks in County Galway|
We sent the evidence to Iarnrod Eireann authorities, but their response was to pass on our correspondence to the hunt with a mere “slap on the wrist" and a warning to stay off the track in future.
Earlier on in the year, we sent photographic evidence of a previous Blazers incursion on the line at Craughwell, Co. Galway.
The incident took place in February 1999 but we did not obtain the images until several months later.
Iarnrod Eireann District Manager, Gerry Glynn, responded as follows: “Your letter and photograph were forwarded to the Iarnród Éireann solicitor in order to issue the necessary proceedings. Unfortunately, as this incident took place in February last, it is now statute barred, and cannot be prosecuted at this stage."
He assured us, however, that any future incidents would be attended to promptly.
Any sensible person interpreting the statement by Mr Glynn that the first trespass was statute barred, and couldn’t be prosecuted, might reasonably conclude that had it not been statute barred, Iarnrod Eireann would have indeed prosecuted.
|Galway Blazers hounds on Crumlin railway tracks|
But, when we put this to the test in November with irrefutable evidence of a further trespass, Iarnród Éireann, for reasons best known to themselves, got cold feet and decided to give the fox hunting “pillars of society" a second chance.
One wonders if second chances like these would apply to other lesser mortals caught trespassing on their railway lines.