Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 288 - Answered on 1st March, 2005

Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food the arrangements her Department has made to regulate the practice of fox hunting; her views on the practice of cubbing or cub hunting; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

For WRITTEN answer. Ref No: 6649/05

The Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mary Coughlan): In August 1998, the Hunting Association of Ireland (HAI), which encompasses bodies that represent organised fox hunting in Ireland, announced Rules and Procedures which apply in particular to the practices of digging out, bolting and earthstopping. This initiative was taken after my Department had conveyed to the bodies in question its concern about such practices.

The bodies concerned also gave specific written assurances that they are committed to ensuring compliance with and enforcement of these measures, and to imposing severe sanctions on anyone found not to have complied with them. I believe that these assurances were given in good faith and we have made clear the importance which we attach to ensuring that there is indeed full compliance by all concerned.

Any person making an allegation or complaint of a breach of the Rules and Procedures should provide to the HAI supporting evidence of the alleged breach in order to facilitate proper investigation in accordance with fair procedures. It is open to a complainant to provide such information to my Department, which will pass it to HAI with a request that the matter be investigated.

As indicated, the Rules and Procedures in question were introduced in August 1998 and my Department has not to date been given grounds for believing that they are not being observed by member hunts of the HAI.

My Department meets with the HAI from time to time and the matters raised by the Deputy will be discussed with that organisation in the near future.

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