Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan defends cruel coursing
09 September 2016
Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan has claimed that hare coursing is "an integral part of the sporting year" and that a ban on the cruel bloodsport would have a "detrimental impact on rural Ireland".
Despite having received an ICABS report which details the hare injuries and deaths caused by coursing, the Dublin Rathdown politician also made the outrageous claim that the monitoring of coursing meetings by National Parks and Wildlife Service staff "has proved effective in ensuring that the welfare of the hare is protected".
Our report details hares hit, mauled, injured and killed by greyhounds on coursing fields around the country. It also includes information on hares injured so severely, they had to be treated or put to sleep by vets. (See report at https://www.scribd.com/doc/316224792/Hare-Coursing-Cruelty-Catalogue-2016)
Josepha Madigan's statements were made in an email to a constituent ahead of June's Dail Eireann vote on the bill to ban coursing. Deputy Madigan was among the 114 TDs who shamefully voted against the bill and ensured that the suffering of hares continues.
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Ireland: Ban Cruel Hare Coursing
JOSEPHA MADIGAN TD's DEFENCE OF CRUEL HARE COURSING
I know that this is a matter that people feel very strongly about. As a member of Fine Gael I have to act in consultation with my party. As a member of Fine Gael and the party having considered the matter with the crucial input of the Minister concerned I have been asked not to support the Bill. I know that this may disappoint you but I would like to set out the reasons for the decision of the Government.
· The control of live hare coursing, including the operation of individual coursing meetings and managing the use of hares for that activity, is carried out under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958 which is the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
· The responsibility of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht relates to the conservation status of the hare and in this regard, the Department issues licences under the Wildlife Acts to the Irish Coursing Club, on behalf of its affiliated clubs, to capture and tag hares for use at coursing meetings on an annual basis.
· The Private Members Bill proposes to delete the provision in Section 23 of the Wildlife Acts which effectively allows for the capturing of hares for coursing meetings and its replacement by a new provision banning live hare coursing. The Government is opposing the Bill on the following grounds:
· The conservation status of the Irish hare is not under threat.
· The most recent conservation assessment, undertaken in 2013, states that the Irish hare is considered wide-spread and common in Ireland. None of the identified threats are considered likely to impact on its conservation status in the foreseeable future and future prospects of the hare are all assessed as favourable.
IMPACT ON RURAL IRELAND
· Hare coursing is mainly a rural activity. · There are some 70 meetings held around the country and in some cases they attract thousands of people to rural towns.
· In many parts of the country, especially in Munster, it is an integral part of the sporting year.
· Any proposal to ban live coursing would have an economic effect on these towns and would have a detrimental impact on rural Ireland.
LICENSING / PROTECTION OF HARES
· The licences issued by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to the Irish Coursing Club and its affiliated clubs contain a number of conditions specifically relating to hare welfare. The hare coursing season lasts from 26 th of September to the following end of February. Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) attend coursing meetings to ensure compliance with the conditions. The monitoring of these meetings by NPWS staff has proved effective in ensuring that the welfare of the hare is protected. Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine also monitor coursing meetings during the coursing season. Conditions: There are a total of 26 conditions associated with the licences issued by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to the Irish Coursing Club, on behalf of its affiliated clubs, to capture and tag hares. These conditions have been developed and refined over a number of years. The Minister will continue to refine the conditions of the license in order to ensure that the welfare of the hare is protected. Conditions of the licences cover a range of items, including · providing data on hare captures and releases; having a veterinary surgeon in attendance at a coursing meeting; not coursing hares more than once per day; not coursing sick or injured hares; having adequate escapes for hares during coursing; releasing hares in daylight the day after the coursing meeting; complying with Irish Coursing Club directives; co-operating with National Parks and Wildlife Service staff of the Department and allowing only coursing club members to be involved in catching hares.
Officials of the NPWS of my Department attend coursing meetings, as resources allow, to ensure compliance with the conditions of the licences. In addition, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine have a Hare Coursing Monitoring Committee consisting of representatives from that Department, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as well as the Irish Coursing Club which has oversight of hare coursing. The Irish Coursing Club has had mandatory muzzling of greyhounds at regulated coursing meetings since the early 1990s.
It is for the above reasons that I have been asked by the Government and Fine Gael to oppose the Bill. I wanted to explain the reasoning behind this.
Josepha Madigan T.D.
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