Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question 171 - Answered on 31 March 2015
Joan Collins, TD (Dublin South Central, United Left)
To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will initiate a new investigation and-or review into hare coursing, with a view to removing its exemption from prohibition under the Animal Health and Welfare Acts, and to bring Ireland into line with neighbouring jurisdictions, where it has criminal status
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney
The Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 represents a major updating of our laws in this area going back to 1911. Under the Act lawful coursing of a hare is permitted unless the hare is hunted or coursed in a space from which it does not have a reasonable chance of escape. The protections, such as the muzzling of greyhounds, which were introduced in 1993 have played an important role in safeguarding hares involved in coursing. In addition to supervision by officers from the National Parks & Wildlife Service, my Department’s veterinary officials attend around 1 0% of coursing meetings with a view to ensuring optimum welfare standards. These are selected through a combination of random and risk-based decision making.
The Deputy will be aware the matter was both debated at length and voted upon during the extensive debates that occurred during the passage of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 through these houses. I think that we have struck a reasonable balance in the legislation as between those opposed to hare coursing and those who consider it to be a legitimate sport.
As the Deputy is aware, I am fully committed to promoting good practices that respect the welfare of all animals and my Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and in dealing with breaches of animal welfare legislation. The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 applies across the board, both to rural and urban areas and to all animals, irrespective of species, whether kept for commercial, domestic, sport, show or for other purposes. Under the Act, on summary conviction, a person can receive a fine of up to € 5,000 and, on indictment, €250,000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years. There are fixed penalty payments for lesser offences. The Act provides the framework within which the welfare of animals can be safeguarded and I am hopeful that the substantial and significantly increased levels of penalties for offences of animal cruelty provided for under the Act will act as a deterrent to animal welfare abuses.
In conclusion, I am satisfied that the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 is working well and I have no plans to review so soon after it has come into effect.
Videos: Ireland's cruel hare coursing
Videos: Drag coursing, the humane alternative to hare coursing
Express your support for a ban on coursing. Sign and share petitions
Urge Minister Heather Humphreys to show compassion for the persecuted Irish Hare and revoke the coursing licence she issued.
Email "Stop the cruelty. Revoke the hare coursing licence" to Heather.Humphreys@oireachtas.ie
Tel: (01) 631 3802 or (01) 631 3800
Leave a comment on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/heather.humphreysfg
Tweet to Heather Humphreys: @HHumphreysFG
Tweet to @HHumphreysFG
(If you have time, please compose your own personal letter. Otherwise, feel free to send the short sample letter below. Be assertive, but polite, in all correspondence. Thank you.)
I am one of the majority who want hare coursing outlawed. I am writing to urge you to revoke the licence you issued to the Irish Coursing Club.
In coursing, hares suffer at all stages - during the capture, during the time they are kept in captivity and during the coursing meetings where they run for their lives in front of greyhounds. Among the injuries recorded are broken legs, damaged toes and dislocated hips. Every season, hare injuries and deaths are documented.
I ask you to please act on the wishes of the majority, show compassion and permanently revoke the licence.
Appeal to the Minister for Agriculture
Please appeal to the Minister for Agriculture to remove an exemption for hare coursing from the Animal Health and Welfare Act.
Simon Coveney, TD
Minister for Agriculture
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2884 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.
Urgently contact An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and ask him to back a ban on hare coursing.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
Department of the Taoiseach,
Upper Merrion Street,
Contact all your local TDs now. Demand that they urgently push for a ban on hare coursing and all bloodsports. Tell them you are one of the majority who want coursing banned. Remind them that coursing is already illegal in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Urge them to respect the wishes of the majority of the electorate and back a ban.
Find out their contact details
Please also arrange a meeting with your TDs at their local clinics.