South Dublin County Councillors pass motion calling for ban on cruel hare coursing
11 April 2023
South Dublin County Councillors have voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion calling on the government to ban cruel hare coursing. 17 Councillors voted in favour of the motion, with just 6 voting against.
At a Council meeting on 11 April 2023, 17 Councillors voted in favour of the motion, with just 6 voting against.
The motion - "South Dublin County Council supports the Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill 2020 and will write to the Minister for Agriculture, calling for a ban on hare coursing" - was presented by Green Party Councillor Lyn Hagin Meade.
It was supported by representatives of the Green Party, People Before Profit, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, The Social Democrats, Sinn Fein, Labour, An Rabharta Glas and some Independents.
Those who voted against were from Fine Gael, Sinn Fein, Labour and 1 Independent. Two Sinn Fein Councillors abstained. See full list below.
Introducing the motion, Cllr Hagin Meade explained that “hares are a protected species under Irish law but under the Animal Welfare Act, hares are protected unless it is for hare coursing.”
She noted that hares are in decline, are an endangered species and that one of the threats they face is coursing.
“During coursing, the fragile, solitary creatures are herded and netted, they're kept in cramped conditions and then they are put in the coursing field where the muzzled dogs chase them,” Cllr Hagin Meade outlined. “The hares don't know that the dogs are muzzled...The hares can be trampled, their bones can be broken, the dogs have claws and they are large and heavy in comparison to those hares. Why should any wild animal have to repeatedly run for their life in an enclosed space from dogs trained to catch them for entertainment value? Hares can be injured and stressed to the point of dying. Statistics show that there are hares that need to be euthanased because of their injuries. The five freedoms of animal welfare which apply in Ireland since 2016 include the freedoms from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering. So why is coursing still legal here? In our 21st Century society, there is no place for animal cruelty, instilling fear into creatures that would otherwise live a peaceful life."
Highlighting that hare coursing is banned in the UK, most EU countries and Australia, Cllr Hagin Meade said that “Ireland is really the outlier”. She referred to the 2019 RED C poll which found that a 77% majority want coursing banned, with just 9% disagreeing with a ban.
She said the council would contact the Department of Agriculture “to encourage the legality of the practice to be reconsidered”.
In his response to the motion, Cllr Francis Timmons (Independent) condemned hare coursing as “barbaric, cruel and inhumane”. “It's pure animal cruelty,” he said, pointing out that “Ireland is one of the last EU countries to allow this.”
Hare coursing “should not be in existence in this day and age”, Councillor Mick Duff (Independent) added. “This is outrageous in the 21st Century.”
Councillor Guss O’Connell (Independent) emphasised that hare coursing “is NOT a sport”.
"In this day and age, there is no excuse for calling it a 'sport',” he said. “I fully support the motion and I would hope it will get close to 100% support".
Green Party Councillor Laura Donaghy commented that “it is not representative of rural Ireland to say that [hare coursing] is enjoyed by anything other than a very small minority of people”.
Councillor Carly Bailey (Social Democrats) pointed out that in coursing, hares are used "in very, very cruel ways”.
Cllr Liam Sinclair (An Rabharta Glas – Green Left) also spoke out against the bloodsport, saying - "this is enjoyment of a helpless creature's distress - you're enjoying a creature being in distress.”
“It needs to be banned," he stressed.
Labour Party Councillor Pamela Kearns described hare coursing as “JUST WRONG”.
Cllr Madeleine Johansson (People Before Profit) said she was “very happy to support this motion” and went on to acknowledge that “there's been a lot more recognition about animal rights over the past few years".
Cllr Cathal King (Sinn Féin) - who praised the hare as "such a majestic animal and very much related to our country" - told Cllr Hagin Meade that he fully supports "what you are trying to achieve" but that he had to abstain in the vote because of Sinn Fein's current pro-coursing policy.
Cllr Paul Gogarty (Independent) said that if a referendum was held, the majority across Ireland would support a ban on hare coursing. “[Coursing] is inhumane, we live in a modern society and it should have been long gone,” he stated, dismissing claims that coursers are involved in conservation as codswallop.
Shamefully speaking in support of coursing at the meeting were Fine Gael's David McManus (a former Greyhound Racing Ireland employee), Joanna Tuffy (Labour) and Ronan McMahon (Independent). They were among the tiny minority who voted against the motion.
A big THANK YOU to Cllr Hagin Meade and all the compassionate councillors who voted in favour of the motion.
The council will now contact the Minister for Agriculture to express support for the Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill and call for a ban on hare coursing.
The Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill was introduced in September 2020 by Paul Murphy TD (People Before Profit / Solidarity) and is expected back before the Dail later this year. Presenting the bill - which is co-signed by TDs Gino Kenny, Mick Barry, Richard Boyd Barrett, Brid Smith, Joan Collins and Catherine Connolly - Deputy Murphy condemned coursing as “a cruel, barbaric and outdated practice”.
Watch the full South Dublin County Council meeting discussion
HELP THE HARES: Tell Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan to give full protection to the Irish Hare and stop licensing cruel coursing.
Minister Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fail, Dublin Fingal)
Tel: (01) 618 3802 OR (086) 251 9893
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Malcolm Noonan TD (Green Party, Carlow Kilkenny)
Minister of State for Heritage
Tel: (01) 888 2425 OR (01) 618 3156
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
With a RED C opinion poll confirming that a 77 per cent majority of citizens want hare coursing banned (with just 9% disagreeing with a ban), it is now time for politicians to consign this nasty bloodsport to history. Join us in contacting all TDs and urging them to act to ensure that a ban is urgently introduced. Visit the Oireachtas website for contact details for TDs https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/members/tds/?term=/ie/oireachtas/house/dail/33
Contact the leaders of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Sinn Fein and the Labour Party to tell them that you want hare coursing and all bloodsports banned.
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Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088
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Eamon Ryan TD
Leader, Green Party
Tel: 01 618 3894
Mary Lou McDonald TD
Leader, Sinn Fein
Tel: (01) 727 7102
Ivana Bacik TD
Leader, The Labour Party
Tel: (01) 6183136
Contact Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Green Party, Sinn Fein and Labour Party TDs and urge them to pledge support for the upcoming Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill 2020.
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