Animal Voice, Winter 2006-07 (40th Anniversary Edition)
Bullfighting ditched by Kerry firm
A Kerry company has been thanked for removing bullfighting references from a website aimed at tourists in Spain.
Gulliver Infores Services Ltd deleted the content from the alltravelspain.com site after ICABS highlighted the cruelty of bullfighting.
Greyhounds given drugs
Cocaine and Viagra are among the drugs being given to greyhounds to illegally boost their racing performances.
Fine Gael TD, Jim O'Keeffe (who is part owner of a greyhound) revealed in the Dail that "some handlers have a supply of cocaine in one pocket and bread soda in the other [to mask the drug], and that this potent cocktail is a common weapon in the doping armoury at greyhound tracks." Viagra is also used on the dogs, he said.
Terrier usage is "pure evil"
The use of terriers in hunting has been condemned by the Sunday Mirror as "pure evil" after injured dogs were found abandoned close to a suspected badger baiting location in Kilkenny.
Describing badger baiting as "pure savagery", the ISPCA's Noel O'Donoghue was quoted as saying: "The badger is a protected species and it is illegal to harm it...Even in the cases of foxes it is nothing but cruelty to force a fight to the death. Foxes are not protected...but they do not deserve to be mutilated either for the enjoyment of cruel hunters."
Terrierwork barbarity is integral to foxhunting in Ireland.
Coursing trips were a pleasure: Minister
Minister of State, Sean Power, has revealed that, as a boy, he "had the pleasure" of travelling around Ireland with a priest to racing and coursing meetings.
The Fianna Fail TD for Kildare South made the statement in June during a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006.
"I was a greyhound owner in the past and my family was involved down through the years in the industry," he proclaimed. "I was an altar boy to a priest who loved both horse and greyhound racing and I had the pleasure of travelling around the country to attend horse and greyhound race meetings and even the odd coursing meeting."
"I learned a great deal and my experience with this priest was joyous and educational," Mr Power reminisced. "I am grateful for the education I received about greyhounds and horses."
Reacting to the Minister's comments, Aideen Yourell of ICABS criticised members of the clergy with links to cruelty.
"Snatching timid, delicate creatures out of the wild in nets and using them as live lures before greyhounds is, without a doubt, in direct contravention of the Catholic Catechism," she said. "Worse still is the fact that a priest of the Catholic Church took an impressionable altar boy to coursing meetings to witness hares being terrorised and abused for 'sport'."
"The vast majority of Mr Power's constituents, and indeed the vast majority of the Irish electorate, are opposed to live hare coursing," she added. "It's high time for him and his party in government to respect the wishes of the electorate and outlaw live hare coursing and other blood sport activities."
McCririck condemns race horse whipping
Thumbs up to John McCririck, the flamboyant and outspoken racing pundit and former Celebrity Big Brother housemate.
Speaking on RTE's Tubridy Show on the eve of Cheltenham, he roundly condemned the use of the whip in horse racing and called on Ireland to "put a stop to this obscenity once and for all". His appeal was greeted with loud applause from the audience.
McCririck said: "I am totally opposed to the use of the whip. Why is it that only in racing can we beat animals in the name of sport? It is unacceptable. Racing will go on without the whip. Hitting these beautiful animals is unacceptable."
"We're trying to stop it [loud applause from audience]. But it is up to you at home, you in the audience, people in Ireland - the most horse loving nation on earth. It is up to you to put a stop to this obscenity once and for all. Racing can't continue with the beating of horses!"
Mr McCririck's opposition to race horse whipping has also been documented on the Channel 4 Racing website. In response to the question, "If you could change anything in racing, what would it be?", he replies: "Stop whipping animals in the name of sport."
Welcome for Failte's anti-hunt move
In the Autumn-Winter 2005 edition of Animal Voice, we praised Failte Ireland for removing numerous references to hunting from their ireland.ie website - 29 were taken off but two remained.
We are pleased to report that, following a recent search of the site, we can confirm that all hunt details have now been deleted.
This is in line with the tourist board's policy of not promoting hunting in Ireland.
Thanks very much to everybody who contacted Failte Ireland to ask them to completely exclude hunt information from their website.
Major thumbs up for draghunting on TG4
Draghunting, the humane alternative to foxhunting, was given a major thumbs up on TG4's An Tuath Nua programme in August.
Heralded as the future for blood sports groups, the activity was praised not only for being animal-friendly but also for its ability to guarantee participants "a good run, good jumps and great fun" during every outing.
In contrast to foxhunting with its disjointed, stop-and-start routine, the route of a draghunt is pre-planned to ensure that riders are given a challenging and pacey course to run.
Fionnuala Ní Chíobháin of the South Leitrim Harriers Draghunt explained on An Tuath Nua that the scent spread across the countryside is made from linseed oil, paraffin oil and urine.
"The hounds follow this scent and the horses follow the hounds," she said. "Everything is pre-planned; the route is pre-ordained. We know exactly where we'll be jumping and running. It's easier to have a better day as we know we'll have some good jumps and it'll be safe. We know where we're going and everyone is promised a great day as it's good running, jumping and fun!"
Members of the "hunt" interviewed on the programme praised draghunting as being:
With so much in its favour and a high level of acceptance among the public, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports has no doubt that draghunting is the future for hunting in Ireland. It's a view shared by draghunt participants who have seen interest in the activity rising.
"I suppose many Irish hunts will go down this [draghunting] route," commented Ms Ní Chíobháin on An Tuath Nua. "It's growing all the time as it's safe and we're not bothering any foxes or animals. You're promised a good run, some good jumps and great fun every time you go out."
Why is hare coursing still permitted here?
by Louise Gleeson
With the start of the hare coursing season the question has to be posed: "Should our government be doing the same as their UK counterparts and banning the so-called sport?"
Recent and past surveys have shown that the majority of the population, as much as 80 per cent, are opposed to the sport and the cruelty that it represents. Given that the number is so large it can be presumed that not all those opposed are city dwellers and that many in the countryside are opposed to the sport also.
The argument has been made that those that live in the city do not understand the dynamic and draw of the sport. That hunting and hare coursing are a tourist attraction and a tradition for people in this country and beyond.
This argument falls short of an understandable explanation. To kill something for sport and not necessity is not something that many people understand or tolerate in a modern context, and the ban on the sport in Scotland and the UK illustrates this.
Many politicians, as high up as our Taoiseach, have expressed their opposition to the sport so the question is why the sport is allowed to continue in this country when it is being banned in so many others. Bertie Ahern said of the sport: "I am totally opposed to hare coursing and I hope that...many more people reject hare coursing as a past-time, which can never justifiably be called a sport."
If the majority of the people in this country object to this sport and our leader has voiced his own opposition to the blood sport then why is it still legal in this country while all others are imposing bans?
There is no doubt that this industry does draw revenue and tourists to this country but to take advantage of a ban on this barbaric practice in other countries for our own financial gain is neither moral or right. Ireland is a country with many other tourist attractions and if the money spent on the sport was re-directed to marketing other tourist amenities then the loss to the country would be minimized.
We are among one of the last countries in Europe to not have a ban on hunting and all associated sports. One has to wonder how long this can remain.
Thanks to Louise Gleeson and Douglas Weekly for allowing us to reproduce this article.
Ireland faces fines for failing to protect natural habitats
The European Commission has warned that failure to protect endangered habitats and species, "will expose Ireland to the risk of substantial fines".
A Commission statement seen by ICABS reveals, incredibly, that Ireland has not yet fully met a 1995 deadline to complete a list of nature sites for an EU network.
Nor has the country taken sufficient measures to recover vegetation damaged by overstocking of sheep from the 1980s onwards.
"Correct implementation of EU environmental legislation is crucial to meet the EU's commitment to halting biodiversity loss in Europe by 2010," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas commented. "I am hopeful that the Irish authorities will now step up efforts."
In 2001, Ireland was condemned by the European Court of Justice for not respecting the deadline. According to the Commission, significant advances were made up to 2004 but since then "progress has stalled".
Undercover investigator on the trail of the deer hunters
An undercover investigation carried out on behalf of ICABS has once again exposed the plight of deer used in carted deer hunting.
The operation, conducted by Mike Huskisson of the UK's Animal Cruelty Investigation Group, succeeded in securing further evidence of the Ward Union's deplorable treatment of deer.
Monitoring the hunt in Counties Meath and Dublin, at meets throughout the entire season, Mike filmed several incidents showing how the deer desperately endeavour to outrun the hounds.
This valuable footage is being used by ICABS in our ongoing effort to get the Ward Union hunt banned.
Among the scenes filmed were:
During the 2005-06 season, three new conditions were imposed on the hunt as part of the Department of the Environment's licensing of the activity. These "rules" relate to the capture of the deer at the end of the hunt (please see Page 4 for related article).
Among the goals of Mike Huskisson was to monitor the implementation of the new conditions. His conclusion, as predicted, is that these conditions are largely unworkable.
"By the time we completed the project we were able to prove the expected - that on occasion hunting at the Ward Union staghounds has changed very little," Mr Huskisson stated. "Yes, hunt staff appear to be trying to conform to the new conditions in their licence but deer will be deer and dogs will be dogs and it is not always easy for the hunt staff to be close to their charges to control them."
He added: "It can all go wrong and when it does the deer can end up cornered, looking straight at the dogs with no-one on hand able to get the dogs away."
Also emphasised in his report is that, regardless of any conditions, the deer can never know that the intention is to call off the pack of hounds at the end of the hunt.
That the fleeing animal is effectively running for its life for the duration of the hunt is what makes carted deer hunting so utterly cruel and unacceptable.
ICABS thanks Mike for the enormous amount of work he put into this successful operation and we look forward to collaborating with him again in the future.
You have my support: Benjamin Zephaniah
Novelist and poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, has signed a "Ban Blood Sports in Ireland" petition and expressed his support for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports campaign against animal cruelty.
In a recent letter to ICABS, the popular writer outlined that he was "aware that people have started travelling over to Ireland to do their killing", now that hunting is banned in the UK.
"You can certainly count me as one of your supporters," he said.
ICABS is delighted to have the support of Benjamin Zephaniah in our campaign to secure a ban on foxhunting, hare coursing, carted deer hunting and all forms of hunting animals with packs of dogs.
Mr Zephaniah is the author of eleven books (novels and poetry), including Too Black, Too Strong, Gangsta Rap, Funky Chickens and Refugee Boy. He has also recorded several albums featuring his poetry performed over music.
In 2003, he famously rejected an OBE (Officer of the Order of British Empire) from the Queen. Quoted in The Guardian, he stated: "I get angry when I hear that word 'empire'; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire."
For more information on Benjamin Zephaniah, please visit his official website at: www.benjaminzephaniah.com.
Partial ceasefire for animals, says army
ICABS has welcomed the news that if animals stray on to the Irish Army's shooting range, a ceasefire is immediately called.
The wildlife-friendly policy was revealed by Captain Fergal Costello of the Irish Defence Forces. Responding to an ICABS enquiry about wildlife protection on Department of Defence lands, Capt Costello stated: "The ranges in the Glen of Imaal are cleared prior to firing. The range officer observes the range area throughout the shoot for animal movements and calls a halt to firing if any animals encroach on to the range area."
Disappointingly, however, not all animals can live a life free from the threat of gunfire on Department land. ICABS has learned that two army game clubs exist which are free to kill birds.
According to Property Management spokesperson, Tony O'Reilly, the clubs hold shooting rights over state lands in Roscommon and Wicklow.
"The licences granted to the game clubs also provide for the rearing and preserving of game birds on the lands in question by the clubs," he outlined, adding that "this matter is being kept under review and in this regard, the ICABS suggestion regarding these lands being made a haven for wildlife has been noted."
Environment Minister, Dick Roche, has been asked to protect all wildlife on the Department of Defence's 8,500 hectares.
Leverets live online
Visitors to the Irish Hare Initiative website in June were treated to a rare close-up of leverets.
A new webcam set up by the group conveyed live footage of the rescued youngsters from a purpose-built facility in County Tyrone.
Orphaned and injured leverets are brought to the Glenlark Nature Reserve centre from all over Ireland for rearing, rehabilitation and release. Live web feeds or recorded highlights can be viewed by visiting www.irishhare.org and clicking on the hare webcam link.
The following advice is being offered to anyone who spots an apparently orphaned leveret:
"Young hares are often left alone by their mothers, who return at night to feed them. It is normal for a leveret to be left in a hedgerow, long grass or vegetation.
"Their instinct is to stay still and not move, which leads people to (wrongly) believe that they are orphaned, sick or injured. Leverets like this should not be at risk unless there is immediate cause for concern or an imminent threat."
If the hare is genuinely orphaned or injured, it will require urgent specialist attention. For more information, please visit the Irish Hare Initiative website and click on "Orphans and casualties". Alternatively, phone the Hareline on 048-8164 7081.
Coursers net hares without licence
A coursing club in the midlands was caught with hares on its premises - outside the hare netting period specified on a licence issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The Westmeath United coursing club, based in Raharney near Killucan, was reported to the NPWS by ICABS after a caller to our offices brought the situation to our attention.
The NPWS licence allows hares to be snatched from the wild after September 1st. Our informant pointed out that hares had been caught in August.
The Wildlife Service reacted swiftly to the ICABS report. Local officers inspected the club's premises and found several hares. We understand that these creatures were immediately released back into the wild, on the instructions of the NPWS officials.
Brendan Farrelly, the club's chairman, admitted that the hares had been caught outside the licence period. Quoted in the local media, he claimed that "it was simply over-enthusiasm on the part of some members."
Mr Farrelly resigned his position as chairman of the general purposes sub-committee of the Irish Coursing Club, but maintained that this was unconnected to his own club's licence breach.
Sadly, despite appeals by ICABS to Minister Dick Roche, the coursing club was allowed to resume capturing hares in September. Their meeting went ahead as planned in October.
ICABS believes, however, that a prosecution for a breach of the 1976 Wildlife Act licence regulations will now be taken by National Parks and Wildlife Service officials.
No rangers in blood sport black spots
There are less than 70 National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers covering the 26 counties and some of these are confined to desk duties, ICABS has learned.
According to an article in the Irish Independent in May, the number of rangers was put at around 90 but we have since discovered that the picture is even bleaker.
A listing on the NPWS website shows that out of a total of just 78 ranger positions, only 68 are filled. Among the ten vacancies are for rangers in blood sport black spots like Kildare, Meath and Tipperary.
The rangers are backed up by just nine "covering officers", according to the national list.
An Environment Department spokesperson told the Independent that the unfilled NPWS positions are due to a ban on public sector recruitment.
"There is a difficulty with numbers because of the government embargo," he said. "There is the same number of rangers as 2002, but less on the ground."
ICABS has called on Minister Dick Roche to ensure that all ranger positions are filled and that new positions are urgently created to help protect our wildlife and habitats. We have suggested that a ban on hare coursing would free up rangers' time and resources; rangers could devote time to protecting the hare species instead of monitoring coursing meetings.
"Rock relics" perform for hunt group
Eric Clapton and Bryan Ferry were among the musicians who appeared at a controversial concert to raise cash for a pro-hunting group.
Held on the grounds of an English castle, the Countryside Alliance fund-raiser also saw performances from Georgie Fame, Andy Fairweather Low, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, Paul Carrack of Mike and the Mechanics, Genesis guitarist, Mike Rutherford, and Procol Harum founder, Gary Brooker.
Commented Animal Aid's Fiona Pereira: "Just as they are rock relics from another age, so killing animals for pleasure belongs to the Dark Ages - a fact that most people can appreciate. The only punters willing to lash out 75 quid to watch a load of misguided old fools shuffling around on stage, are, well, misguided fools."
According to the Newbury Weekly News, those who showed up at the event had to endure "dismal weather"!
Farmer fires over festive foxhunters
A farmer who found hounds heading towards his horses fired a shotgun into the air during a St Stephen's Day hunt.
Described in the Kilkenny Voice newspaper, the incident reportedly involved Mick Farrell of Pleberstown, Thomastown and a Kilkenny foxhunt.
"These people won't leave me alone," he was quoted as saying. "I have asked them time and time again to stay away."
"My lands are preserved and people in the hunt know that," he added. "I have put up signs stating that fox hunting is prohibited but they have been torn down and flung away. I am at my wits end."
Mr Farrell told the Kilkenny Voice that, over the years, several of his animals have been seriously injured when hunts crossed his land. He said that some of these animals had to be put down and that he never received compensation for the losses.
During the incident last Christmas, he admitted firing the shots from a ditch on his land but maintained that animals and hunt riders were well away from him at the time.
"I had only two seconds to make a decision," he recalled. "I could either fire the shots and save my horses or allow my animals to be panicked. I have no intention of hurting anyone but I had no choice but to protect the horses that are my living."
After the shots were fired, the hunters called off their dogs but, said Mr Farrell, some of the animals were still in the vicinity over an hour later.
He added: "My telephone number is with Thomastown Gardai and I will meet the superintendent at his convenience. I will be lodging a complaint against the intruders. I'll see this through to the bitter end. I have had enough."
Thank you to politicians
ICABS thanks all the politicians who have helped us with the campaign over the past year.
TDs, Senators, MEPs and Councillors (independents and from all the political parties) have joined us in our bid to persuade the government to rid Ireland of blood sport cruelty.
We look forward to their continued support in the future.
Green TD calls for hare coursing ban
The Green Party's Sports and Tourism spokesperson has called for a complete ban on hare coursing.
Paul Nicholas Gogarty, the party's TD for Dublin Mid-West, said: "The greyhound industry is covered in a cloud of cruelty and is in urgent need of reform."
In a statement issued in June, Mr Gogarty condemned the cruelty inherent in coursing.
"Hare coursing involves cruelty to both hares and dogs and this has to stop," he stated. "I am not anti-greyhound racing, but an industry that knowingly engages in animal cruelty for profit is not one that should be allowed operate in such a fashion."
Citing statistics which show that a huge majority of rural and urban dwellers want the blood sport banned, Mr Gogarty queried the government's reluctance to act.
"Perhaps this is because many of our elites own greyhounds, including politicians from several parties," he remarked. "A considerable number of TDs [have] admitted to owning a greyhound, making it hard for many to take a balanced view of the industry."
"Do these parliamentary colleagues condone the stress caused to hares that are captured for up to six weeks? Do they condone the deaths from stress and maulings that still occur, even with muzzles on the greyhounds? What about the illegal bloodings that still go on and the putting down of greyhounds that have outlived their economic usefulness? Is there not an element of hypocrisy involved?"
Deputy Gogarty stressed the availability of a humane alternative to hare coursing. This could, and should, replace the use of hares, he said.
IFA "selling out": anti-hunt farm group
The Irish Farmers Association has been accused of "selling out" by inviting foxhunters to join its IFA Countryside scheme. Strongly criticising the move, Philip Lynch, chairman of Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass, remarked: "it appears that all the principles of the IFA are up for sale."
The IFA Countryside website acknowledges that the countryside is "a great national resource which Irish farmers work hard to maintain and enhance" but adds that the scheme is open to those with "an interest in...Irish field sport activities".
Quoted in the Irish Independent of May 22nd, Mr Lynch stated: "It's a crying shame that [the IFA] is about to make hunters, who are nothing but vandals, members of the organisation. With IFA Countryside, they are bringing in people who are not even farmers."
He went on to emphasise that farmers trying to protect their lands and livestock from trespassing hunters are relying on the IFA to help them.
The article revealed that several cases are now before the courts involving farmers seeking compensation from hunters for alleged crop damage.
ICABS views the invitation to blood sports enthusiasts to join IFA Countryside as being incompatible with the aims of the IFA which was established "to present a coherent national voice for all Irish farmers on all issues affecting their livelihoods".
Every hunting season, farmers are plagued by hunts coming on to their land and threatening their livelihoods. Among the complaints are damage to boundary fences and pastures, the disturbance of livestock and pets, the spread of disease and abusive and threatening behaviour from hunters when told to stay off private land.
I have no plans to ban coursing: O'Donoghue
Despite being aware that coursing is opposed by 80 per cent of Irish citizens, Arts and Tourism Minister, John O'Donoghue, has announced that he has no plans to ban the cruel activity.
Responding to a letter sent by ICABS to Bertie Ahern, the Minister ruled out an end to the blood sport which sees thousands of hares snatched from the wild annually and forced to run for their lives.
"I do not have any plans at present to introduce a ban on coursing," Minister O'Donoghue stated in the August letter, "but I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that coursing is run in a well-controlled and responsible manner in the interest of animal welfare, both for hares and greyhounds alike."
Considering that coursing is an intrinsically cruel activity, ICABS finds the idea that it is, or could ever be, carried out in an animal welfare-friendly fashion to be absolutely absurd. As long as hares are used in coursing, there is no possibility of it being compatible with acceptable animal welfare standards.
Minister O'Donoghue's response is particularly disappointing as he has been made fully aware of a perfectly viable and humane alternative to coursing. In drag coursing, the dogs chase an inanimate object dragged rapidly along the ground.
Please contact Minister O'Donoghue and urge him to ban hare coursing in Ireland.
Minister John O'Donoghue
Dept of Arts, Sport & Tourism
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: +353 (0)1 631 3802
Fax: +353 (0)1 678 5906
Please send a copy of your correspondence to:
Bertie Ahern, An Taoiseach
Department of the Taoiseach
Merrion Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: + 353 (0)1 678 9791
Please also send a copy to your local Dail and Seanad representative(s) at Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-618 3000.
Stay away from coursing finals: appeal to minister
ICABS appealed to Minister John O'Donoghue to stay away from the February 2006 coursing finals in Clonmel.
The appeal came following an article in the Irish Independent which described the Fianna Fail TD as a coursing fan and revealed that he was due to attend the controversial event.
In our letter, ICABS stated: "On behalf of the vast majority of citizens who want coursing outlawed, we appeal to you to refrain from attending this meeting and to instead give your support to efforts aimed at safeguarding the future of the hare, one of Ireland's oldest and favourite species."
"We remind you that hare coursing is opposed by most Irish people," we added. "It is now illegal in the UK and has also been stopped in Northern Ireland in response to the All-Ireland Species Action Plan which has identified the hare as being a species of highest conservation concern."
The Minister did not reply.
No link to hunt, insists charity
Enable Ireland has assured ICABS that they are not connected to hunting.
The charity was responding to a Kilkenny Voice article from November 2005 which referred to a race night being organised by the "Kilkenny Farmers Hunt in association with Enable Ireland (The O'Neill Centre)".
ICABS urged the charity to act to prevent its good name from being associated with hunters. A spokesperson confirmed that "Enable Ireland Kilkenny has no direct links or association with the Kilkenny Farmers Hunt."
Tourism body reminded of hunt cruelty
A tourism body publicising hunting has been reminded that blood sports result in horrendous animal suffering.
East Coast and Midlands Tourism (ECMT) has been asked to stop including hunting in promotional material.
In its "Equestrian Holidays" booklet, several references to hunting appear, including a listing for a country club which says it can arrange hunt outings for visitors. Elsewhere, a riding centre lists hunting as its specialty.
As part of our appeal, ICABS sent ECMT a selection of graphic photos and urged them to consider the reality of hunting.
"We are sure that East Coast and Midlands Tourism would not want to play any part in publicising these cruel activities," we stated. "We appeal to you to please exclude references to hunting from future publications."
We have also pointed out that as they are a regional representative of Failte Ireland, they should be abiding by the latter's policy of not promoting hunting in Ireland.
UPDATE: For an update on this story, please see:
Hunt literature removed from midlands tourist offices
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