Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Question 25 - Answered on 20 February, 1997
Trevor Sargent: To ask the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the outcome of his monitoring of deer hunting activities by the Ward Union; and if he will have regard to the many landowners, road users and compassionate members of the public, both rural and urban, who object to deer hunting with hounds before deciding on his future policy in relation to this activity.
Question 36 - Answered on 20 February, 1997
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 126 of 22 October 1996, the action, if any, taken by him and/or the Wildlife Service regarding the ongoing stag hunts organised by the Ward Union Hunt.
Question 38 - Answered on 20 February, 1997
Tony Gregory: To ask the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if he intends to issue any further licences for stag hunts in view of the cruelty inherent in such hunts.
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. Michael D Higgins): I propose to take Questions Nos. 25, 36 and 38 together.
My reply to Question No. 126 on 22 October 1996 indicated that no application had been made or licence issued to the Ward Union hunt club under section 26 (1) (ii) of the Wildlife Act, 1976 since October 1988. Following this reply there was an exchange of correspondence between the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department and the Ward Union hunt club in relation to the requirements for a licence under the 1976 Act for carted stag hunting. Ultimately, this correspondence resulted in an application for a licence under section 26 (1) (ii) of the 1976 Act being submitted by the Ward Union hunt club on 30 December 1996 to the NPWS. I understand that a number of complaints in relation to the Ward Union hunt club have been made to the Garda Síochána and these matters are currently under investigation. In the circumstance, further comment by me at this stage would not be appropriate.
In meetings on 8 January last which I held with representatives of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports and the Ward Union hunt club, I had the opportunity to consider in detail the views of both organisations regarding the licensing of carted stag hunting under the 1976 Act. Following these meetings, I decided, pending the consideration and advice of the Heritage Council on the conflicting assertions regarding deer hunting, to issue a licence under section 26 (1) (ii) limited to 31 March next. This licence is subject to the condition that I can appoint a person or persons to undertake the monitoring of the Ward Union hunt club.
In relation to monitoring, an official from the NPWS monitored the hunt on 15 January last and I have since then arranged for an official from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to undertake ongoing monitoring of the hunt up to 31 March next. The monitoring involves the furnishing of factual reports on the hunt dealing, inter alia, with the health and condition of the animal before and after the hunt, the treatment of the animal during the hunt, the conduct of the hunt and its followers and the impact of the hunt on the lands over which it passes. The reports received will be passed to the Heritage Council to assist in their deliberations. My intention is to ensure that the process of review put in place by me in relation to the licensing of stag hunting with hounds under section 26 (1) (ii) of the 1976 Act will take into account all issues and viewpoints, including those adverted to by the Deputies.