Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 176 - Answered on 31st March, 2015

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD (Dublin Central, Independent)

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the action he is taking to address the situation at Clonmel, County Tipperary, during the National Coursing meeting, where hares were kept in captivity, for numerous days, due to cancellation of coursing, with bad weather, in contrary to hare maintenance guidelines, set out by the Irish Coursing Club (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Guidelines set out by ICC (Irish Coursing Club)
You are asked to take particular care with your hare stocks. Please ensure that the hare- paddocks are dry and sheltered and that the feeding and feeding arrangements are to the highest standards. Ensure that a reliable, knowledgeable person is given the responsibility of looking after all aspects of the hares' welfare. Utilise the medication supplied to you by the Irish Coursing Club

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney

Under the provisions of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 the regulation of coursing is chiefly a matter for the Irish Coursing Club (ICC), subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, which is the statutory body with responsibility for the improvement and development of the greyhound industry, greyhound racing and coursing.

The ICC has confirmed to my Department that it has systems in place to underpin the welfare of animals participating in coursing events. These include the issuing of guidelines to Coursing Clubs and the mandatory inspections of hares and coursing venues in advance of the commencement of an event.

The ICC rules provide for the postponement/cancellation of meetings in the event of adverse weather conditions, e.g. snow, frost or waterlogged ground, which may impact negatively on the welfare of the hare and/or the greyhound. The ICC invoked this provision when it postponed the national meeting scheduled for Monday, February 2nd 2015, to Sunday, February 8th 2015, due to unfavourable conditions caused by frost. I am advised that officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht did inspect the hares in the paddock while they were in the enclosure and found them to be in a very good condition with sufficient food and water supplied. Officials also attended the last day of the meeting on 8th February and agreed with the Club officials on the number and locations of the hares to be released back into the wild.

I am advised that the National Meeting commenced with 177 hares and following the completion of 209 competitive courses, all of the 177 hares were released back to the countryside in accordance with the conditions of the licences granted by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I am also advised that ICC Guideline 7 enforcing the high standard of hare maintenance while the hares were held in captivity, was fully complied with.

The ICC has informed my Department that it ensures:

· Veterinary care is available to the hare at all times. Coursing Clubs employ a veterinary surgeon to attend at coursing meetings to administer care as deemed appropriate to any animal in need of attention.

· The health status of all hares is assessed by a veterinary surgeon (appointed by the ICC) and a member of the Hare & Field Committee and an ICC Control Steward prior to coursing.

· A member of the Executive Committee of the ICC oversees each coursing meeting. This person has powers to curtail or abandon a meeting if required.

· An ICC Control Steward is appointed to each meeting to ensure all rules are adhered to by the host club.

· On conclusion of the coursing meeting all hares are released back into the countryside under supervision of an ICC steward and a Wildlife Ranger, when available.

· Wildlife Rangers are officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and these officials attend a number of coursing meetings, including the National Meeting to monitor compliance with conditions of the licences issued by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. These licences facilitate the tagging and capturing of hares for the purpose of hare coursing.

· The conduct of each coursing meeting is monitored to capture relevant information as required by the NPWS and the ICC and this data is returned to the NPWS.

The ICC has assured my Department that the measures outlined above underpin the welfare of animals participating in coursing events, and were in place throughout the period during which the hares were in the care of the ICC for the national meeting.

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

Stop Licensing Cruel Hare Coursing
Save Irish hares from cruel coursing
Ban horrific hare coursing cruelty in Ireland
Stop sponsoring hare coursing in Ireland

Urge Minister Heather Humphreys to show compassion for the persecuted Irish Hare and stop licensing hare coursing.

Email "Minister Humphreys - Stop licensing cruel hare coursing" 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

(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.)

Dear Minister Humphreys,

I am one of the majority who want hare coursing outlawed. I am writing to urge you to stop licensing this cruel activity.

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 stop licensing hare coursing.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,


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
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Email: Simon.Coveney@oireachtas.ie
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,
Government Buildings,
Upper Merrion Street,
Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6194020
Fax: 01-6764048
Email: taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie

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.

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