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TD who praised coursers as "honourable people" asks about hare protection
02 May 2018

A Cork politician who outrageously praised cruel hare coursers as "genuine, decent and honourable people" has questioned the Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister about what she is doing to protect the Irish Hare.

In a Dail Question to Minister Josepha Madigan, Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan (Cork North West) asked about "the steps being taken to protect the Irish hare".

Given that Deputy Moynihan is shamelessly in favour of bloodsports - he voted against Maureen O'Sullivan's bill which sought to ban coursing - his interest in hare protection quite likely only extends as far as ensuring there are sufficient hares remaining for coursers to persecute.

During a Dail debate on the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill in June 2011, Michael Moynihan claimed that "those involved in the [greyhound] industry and coursing clubs are genuine, decent and honourable people, providing employment and entertainment". Disregading the terrorisation of hares during coursing and the injuries and deaths which occur every season, he went on to farcically praise hare coursers for "maintaining animal welfare standards second to none".

With growing fears for the future of the Irish Hare, the species certainly needs protecting but that protection MUST include a ban on coursing and all forms of hare hunting and shooting.

In her reply, Minister Josepha Madigan stated "there is a short Open Season when hunting is permitted, and the capture of hares for coursing is permitted under licence."

Minister Madigan's claim that the open season is short is incorrect - it is actually a very long 156 days or just over 22 weeks/5 months. In that period, hares may be shot, coursed and torn to bits by packs of hunting hounds.

According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website, the permitted "hunting period" for the Irish Hare runs from "the 26th day of September in each year and ending on the 28th day of February in the year immediately following that year."

Hare coursing - shamefully licensed by Minister Madigan and the National Parks and Wildlife Service - is responsible for major interference with the species during seven months of the year (August to February). Thousands of hares are snatched from the wild in nets, held in captivity for months, manhandled, fed an unnatural diet and eventually forced to run for their lives from pairs of greyhounds. Every coursing season, hares are injured and killed on coursing fields and those who survive the ordeal are at risk of later dying as a result of stress-related capture myopathy.

Among those expressing fears for the Irish Hare is ecologist Dr Karina Dingerkus who told RTE's Mooney Goes Wild show last month that "over the last 50 years, numbers have declined significantly."

"We know that hare populations do fluctuate naturally but we don't know by how much," Dr Dingerkus stated. "We certainly know that numbers have declined...We don't see very many...Certainly over the past 50 years, we know numbers have dropped dramatically...they're in trouble...we do know that they have been dropping over a long period of time."

Mooney Goes Wild reporter Terry Flanagan noted that "there is an overall trend over the past number of years and that trend is downwards."

Tuesday, 24 April 2018
Wildlife Protection

Michael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)

To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps being taken to protect the Irish hare; the measures that are already in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18024/18

Josepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)

The hare is protected under the Wildlife Acts although there is a short Open Season when hunting is permitted, and the capture of hares for coursing is permitted under licence.

The hare is also on Annex V of EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) and Ireland is required to make a detailed report every six years on the conservation status of all species listed in the Annexes to that Directive, including the Hare. Ireland’s most recent report in 2013 included a comprehensive assessment of the range, population status, habitat and threats for the Irish hare. The next report is due in 2019.

The 2013 report stated that the Hare is found throughout the country from coastal habitats to upland heath and bog. The Hare is widespread and common in Ireland with a broad habitat niche. None of the identified threats are considered likely to impact on its conservation status in the foreseeable future and the Overall Conservation Status was assessed as Favourable.

In addition to the reporting requirements of the EU Habitats Directive, data on the distribution of the hare is being collected continuously by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the recent Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015 provided a summary of the species’ range, demonstrating that it remains widespread across the country.

My Department recently commissioned a new assessment of the status of hare’s population in Ireland. The survey work to inform this population assessment will extend over two years to provide for a comprehensive review of the national situation. The first round of surveys began in December 2017, with a second survey season to follow in winter 2018/19. The final report is due in July 2019.


In June 2016, Michael Moynihan (Fianna Fail, Cork North West) was among the 114 TDs who voted against Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan's bill which sought to ban cruel hare coursing.

"Those involved in the industry and coursing clubs are genuine, decent and honourable people, providing employment and entertainment and maintaining animal welfare standards second to none...We must acknowledge the voluntary contributions people made in Bord na gCon and the Irish Coursing Club. Many of them have been attacked from certain quarters. It is up to those who acknowledge these people’s contribution to stand up for them and point out that their sports are completely legitimate." From a Dail debate on the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011, 30 June 2011


It is now more clear than ever that the Irish Hare must be given full protection. Urgently contact Minister Josepha Madigan, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to demand an immediate end to hare coursing, hare shooting and hare hunting.

Email "Stop the cruelty - Ban hare coursing NOW" to,,

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
Department of the Taoiseach,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion St, Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 (0)1-6194020
Tweet to: @campaignforLeo
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Minister Josepha Madigan
Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht
Phone: +353 (0)1 631 3800

John Fitzgerald
Director, National Parks and Wildlife Service
Phone: +353 (0)1 888 3242


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