Animal Watch

Animal Watch, May 2001
Full Contents - Pages 1-12

Sick hare slaughter

ICABS has called for a Garda investigation into the circumstances surrounding the slaughter of sick hares at a coursing meeting in Abbeyfeale last January.

The Irish Coursing Club, in a rare and unprecedented move, censured the Abbeyfeale club after an inquiry concluded that officials should have moved to halt the meeting.

The startling revelations that sick hares were coursed came initially from Irish Independent journalist and coursing commentator, John Martin. Mr Martin reported in an article on January 3rd that “what passed as a coursing meeting was a disgrace”.

“I counted 11 hares which did not make the escape and frankly appeared to have no chance of doing so,” he wrote. “As many again were injured and undoubtedly died later. Some were barely moving beyond walking pace.”

Coursing fan, Martin, was extremely critical of the club’s decision to press ahead with the meet. He told ICABS that he had approached senior officials on the day and asked them to call it off, but they refused.

Presiding over this cruelty fest were Abbeyfeale club secretary Jack O’Rourke (who also happens to be the reigning president of the Irish Coursing Club) and, we understand, a top official from Bord na gCon.

It would seem that the Irish Independent journalist was the lone voice calling for a halt to the cruelty.

The Department of Agriculture and Dúchas have questions to answer about their failure to act, given that both a vet and a wildlife ranger were present.

Coursing sick hares is in contravention of the licence to capture hares, granted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Minister Síle DeValera - in response to a Dáil Question put by Deputy Tony Gregory about the breaching of the licence conditions - responded that “some hares were run but not coursed.”

Clearly, she finds it acceptable to ‘run’ sick hares up coursing fields as long as they are not being pursued by greyhounds - so “technically”, it’s not a breach of the licence. In another separate question put by Deputy Gregory to the Minister for Agriculture, the hare death toll was reported to be 14. The results of a post mortem proved inconclusive.

This points up again the shocking and abusive nature of an intrinsically cruel blood sport, the flimsy rules which apply to it, and the government agencies which turn a blind eye and try to explain away the misdemeanors of the coursers.

Action Item

Contact Ministers Síle DeValera and Joe Walsh asking why their officials did not move to stop the meeting when it was apparent that hares were sick. Contact details are as follows:

Minister Joe Walsh, Department of Agriculture, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-607 2892 or LoCall 1890-200 150. Fax: 01-661 1013 Email:

Minister Sile DeValera, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-667 0788 Extension 2321 or LoCall 1890-474 847. Fax: 01-647 3101. Email:

Best of friends!

Who said hounds are natural born killers? Our picture shows rescued fox cub, Penny, with her best pal, Silky the Lurcher. (Photo: Peter Akokan)

fox cub with lurcher dog

Waterford Crystal pledge end to hunt support

After pressure from several animal welfare groups, international glass company, Waterford Crystal, has publicly stated that they no longer sponsor events connected to blood sports.

ICABS was appalled to note that the company lent its good name and reputation to the endorsement of cruelty by sponsoring a race at the Waterford Foxhunt Point-to-point fundraiser last year.

Point-to-point races are the main fundraisers for foxhunting clubs, and without them the hunts would undoubtedly be starved of cash for their cruel activities.

In an article in the Waterford News and Star in February 2001, a company spokesperson stated: "Waterford Crystal does not support events which are intended as fundraising activities for blood sports."

The spokesperson claimed that the policy had been in place for some considerable time.

In 1999, the company was also linked to hare coursing. From a Waterford Crystal stand at the Greyhound of the Year Awards, Minister Joe Walsh presented a Waterford Crystal trophy for the Coursing Greyhound of 1998/1999.

A Waterford Crystal trophy was also presented to greyhound trainer, Ger McKenna (father of Owen McKenna who was convicted in 1994 in a notorious case involving the blooding of greyhounds with live rabbits in Tipperary).

Action Item

Please write a letter to Waterford Crystal asking them to confirm that they have permanently stopped associating themselves with all forms of blood sport activity. The address is: Therese Dooley, Sponsorship Section, Waterford Crystal, Kilbarry, Waterford.

Charity shop admits selling fur products

A charity shop chain which stocks fur products has indicated that it has no intention of removing cruelty clothes from its inventory.

Paul Hughes, General Manager of the Irish Cancer Society’s chain of charity shops confirmed to ICABS that fur continues to be stocked in a number of their shops.

"The Society does not have a policy against the sale of furs but our established practice is not to include fur products in window displays,” he said.

However, an ICABS supporter in Cork told us that a fur coat was indeed on display in the window of the Castle Street branch. She said: “I was shocked to see the Irish Cancer Society selling second-hand fur coats. They had one half-length coat on a mannequin in the window and when I went in to have a look around, I found about five other coats on a rack at the rear of the shop.”

While outlining that the shops rarely receive furs as donations, Mr Hughes suggested that there would be no move to eliminate fur from stock or refuse future donations. “We fully appreciate the merit of the animal welfare concerns that your organisation promotes,” he commented. “However, the role the charity shops fulfill is to contribute funding to the Society services."

Around 30 million animals suffer a life of misery in the world’s fur farms. They are forced to live in cramped conditions and are brutally slaughtered at eight months of age. Some are clubbed to death while others are gassed, electrocuted or have their necks broken. Between 10 and 40 animals are killed to make each fur garment.

Crown criticised over bullrunning promotion

Crown Paints has been criticised for organising a holiday promotion in which the top prize was a trip to Spain to see a bullrunning event.

The promotion, run in conjunction with 2FM, ended with a listener winning the trip to Pamplona’s annual bullrunning festival.

The bullrun or “encierro” in Pamplona is a tourist-driven and sanitised version of real bullruns of which there are approximately 15,000 throughout Spain. In these, the animals - sometimes including calves as young as two months old - can be tortured for hours by being stoned, stabbed and dragged along the ground by tractors.

ICABS is extremely disappointed that both 2FM and Crown Paints promoted such cruelty. We are also shocked that Crown considered it appropriate to give away a holiday to an event which, over the years, has claimed the lives of 14 people and has seen more than 200 injured by bulls.

Welcome Message

Welcome to our slimmed-down version of Animal Watch. We plan to bring this newsletter out more often and keep you informed of the campaigns and how you can help.

Your letter writing efforts are vital and they do make a difference. The appeal to Bishop Kirby to stop the Galway Blazers hunting on his land is a case in point. We know your letters had a real effect on the bishop!

So keep writing and emailing. ‘The pen and the internet is mightier than the sword’.

As we go to press, we continue to hope that foot and mouth will be contained and that there will not be a further outbreak.

We hope that this crisis will be a wake-up call for farmers who allow hunters to run riot over their lands with dogs in pursuit of innocent wildlife, thus leaving themselves open to the spread of various diseases.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Government-backed bill to outlaw hunting with dogs won the day in the Commons with an overwhelming majority, but as expected, it was shot down in the House of Lords. The battle will continue, however, and hunting with dogs in Britain is now in its death throes.

Here, while our task is enormous, we are much heartened with a poll in the Sunday Independent showing 56 per cent supporting a ban on foxhunting, and the pledge by the Sunday People to take up the campaign.

Thank you again for your support, financial, moral and otherwise which is vital to our success. And remember, all is not bad news for our wildlife.

The heartwarming story of a farmer in Roscommon who discovered a badger and her cubs in his cowhouse, and gave them sanctuary, fills us with hope for the future and gives us the heart to fight on.

Exhibition shows fox victims

Foxwatch Ireland is currently hosting an online exhibition of photos showing the horror which awaits foxes around every corner of our countryside.

Entitled Images of Death, the hard-hitting display includes pictures of foxes killed by hunt hounds, shooters, snares and poison. One particularly horrific image shows a pregnant vixen which was poisoned while carrying four cubs.

A spokesperson for Foxwatch Ireland said: “The images are shocking but this is the reality. We want people to look at them and to see exactly what is being done to Ireland’s favourite mammal.”

The exhibition can be viewed in the gallery section of the group’s website at:

Wildlife cull not necessary to prevent FMD: experts

Many experts believe that culling wildlife to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease is counter-productive in that it causes disturbance and movement of wildlife which could create more problems than it would solve.

Feral goats and wild deer have been culled in the Cooley Peninsula, Co. Louth, where there was an incidence of foot and mouth. Army sharpshooters in helicopters are being used to spot the animals.

In the UK, research has shown that spread of foot and mouth from wildlife to domestic animals is minimal, and although some species of wildlife such as hedgehogs are susceptible to the disease, there is no evidence of wildlife contributing to the spread of foot and mouth. Furthermore, the disease is known to die out quickly in the wild.

Commenting on the effects of any attempt to kill badgers in an outbreak area, Bernie Barrett of Badger Watch stated: “Shooting, snaring or disturbing badgers will merely disperse the disease further - any sign of disturbance and badgers will just move out of the area.”

We hope that common sense will prevail and that the Department of Agriculture will not extend the cull to wildlife in general in the event of any further outbreaks of foot and mouth.

Become an e-campaigner

Would you like to keep up to date with developments in the campaign against blood sports? Would you be willing to respond to urgent letter writing appeals?

Join the ICABS emailing list and we will keep you posted on when and how you can help.

From time to time, we will notify you about anti-bloodsport campaign issues which you can respond to - key politicians to write to, companies to challenge on blood sport support, members of the clergy who partake in hunts, etc.

Please with your email address and join this very important campaign initiative.

Experts advise against hunting on State lands
Is gunclub-friendly Minister listening though?

In the last edition of Animal Watch, we reported on Minister Síle DeValera's call for a review of the longstanding policy of no hunting on state lands.

The call came after the Minister attended the AGM of the gun clubs at which she was obviously put under strong pressure from the shooters who want to blast away at the wildlife in the precious few remaining sanctuaries in this country.

The review was carried out by a British based group, Just Ecology, who met with various interested groups.

The Minister, however, wanted to exclude ICABS when she asked for the review to take into account implications for wildlife conservation (rather than animal welfare, which does not come within the her remit).

Just Ecology, very wisely, thought differently, and invited ICABS to make a submission, which we did when we met with them in April last year. We made a strong case for keeping the hunters out of our national parks and we provided them with valuable research material.

Just Ecology delivered their report to the Heritage Council at the end of summer 2000. It wasn't what the Minister and the gun clubs wanted to hear.

It advised against opening up state lands to hunters and went on to spell out deficiencies and weaknesses in conservation management in Ireland, highlighting the need for species surveys as well as research and monitoring.

A hare survey was on the top of their recommendations, after having identified a decline in the hare population and expressing "grave reservations as to whether the current exploitation of hares, let alone any increase, is sustainable”.

ICABS has been calling for a national hare survey for over a decade.

The 100 page report made very interesting reading and provided a valuable insight into the views of various groups on blood sports and hunting.

For example, while shooters considered themselves very responsible, Coillte (which was consulted because 70 per cent of forestry is let for shooting) were not so enthused.

Coillte revealed that there was considerable public reaction against hunting, and that they had a file of complaints from forestry workers and the public; that hunters seldom comply with their conditions for hunting in the forests; that they are lax about informing the public when they are active; that only 50 per cent of shooters hand in bag returns at the end of the season as required, and that Coillte doubt the accuracy of such returns.

Dúchas (the National Parks & Wildlife Service) was also consulted and declared, as a matter of policy, that they were not anti-hunting, but anticipated substantial problems in opening up the national parks to hunters because they were perceived to be public places of free access and places to find peace and tranquillity.

They felt that the public would perceive hunting in the parks to be a safety risk. They spoke of a change in culture in the countryside, with few youngsters now taking up hunting which they perceive to be an unnecessary activity.

Public reaction to culling was strong, and they cited a “furore” when goats were being culled in the Burren National Park and much local opposition to the culling of Sika deer in Killarney National Park.

Hunting with hounds was perceived by Dúchas to give greater problems than shooting.

The Heritage Council forwarded the report to the Minister last September, with the advice that the policy of no hunting on state lands should remain in place, and that the necessary research be carried out to fill information gaps relating to species population and dynamics identified in the report's conclusions.

To date, there has been no response from the Minister's office in relation to the crucial issues raised by Just Ecology.

Action Item

Contact Minister Síle DeValera and ask her to implement the recommendations of Just Ecology's Review into Hunting on State Lands to address gaps/weaknesses as identified in the report. Ask her, as a priority, to carry out a national hare survey, and to suspend all hare hunting until this has been done. Minister Sile DeValera, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-667 0788 Extension 2321 or LoCall 1890-474 847. Fax: 01-647 3101. Email:

Protesters threatened outside coursing event
Blood sport supporters throw eggs and water at demonstrators

ICABS was forced to call for Garda protection after an anti-coursing demonstrator was threatened during a protest in Co Offaly last November.

The protester, who was filming the Edenderry coursing event from a public road, was told that her video camera would be "smashed before the day was out".

ICABS supporters who attended the peaceful demonstration were also pelted with eggs and water which was thrown from within the coursing field.

ICABS demonstrators
Brave ICABS supporters who continued protesting despite being pelted with eggs and water during an anti-coursing protest in Edenderry. (Photo: Philip Kiernan)

Local Town Commissioner, Eileen O'Connor, who joined our protest, had water thrown on her coat and an egg flung at her placard. She described the behaviour of the coursers as "horrendous" and said that threats issued by them were uncalled for.

Not surprisingly, a member of the coursing club committee later denied in the local media that anything was thrown at the protesters or that any threats were made. However, his claims were contradicted by a spokesperson for the Gardaí who told the Offaly Topic that water was witnessed being thrown and that there was evidence of eggs having been thrown.

Another ICABS camera operator who was positioned close to the entrance of the venue was also the target of a water attack. Luckily, the camera escaped damage.

These incidents are another clear indication of the coursers' determination to prevent further filming of their cruelty. Video footage secured by ICABS in the past and broadcast on national TV has helped to highlight the barbarity of coursing and has increased calls from the public to have the blood sport banned.

Needless to say, ICABS has never been deterred by the bullying tactics of animal abusers and our efforts to gather more evidence of coursing and hunt cruelty is set to continue.

Gun clubs boss joins wildlife committee

In a move which demonstrates the cosy relationship between Minister Síle DeValera and the shooters, she has appointed a gunclub boss to the Wildlife Committee of the Heritage Council.

The appointment of Des Crofton - director of FACE Ireland and FACE Europe (groups set up to defend all hunting interests in Ireland and Europe) - brings to two the number of hunters currently on the committee.

Crofton was quoted in the Irish Shooter's Digest as follows: "My appointment to the Heritage Council's Standing Committee on Wildlife will not in any way deter or restrict me in continuing to fight for a better deal for both hunters and Ireland’s wildlife." Spot the contradiction!

Write to Minister DeValera now and question her decision to appoint Mr Crofton to the Wildlife Committee.

Minister Sile DeValera, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-667 0788 Extension 2321 or LoCall 1890-474 847. Fax: 01-647 3101. Email:

Galway Blazers given access to Coillte woods

Coillte has confirmed that the Galway Blazers has permission to access forestry near Loughrea.

However, a Coillte spokesperson refused to supply us with details of conditions attached to the permit issued to the hunt.

Local anti-hunt campaigner, Thomas Hardiman, told ICABS that the hunt has been witnessed cub hunting on the Coillte property and interfering with fox earths.

Majority support for foxhunt ban
Polls prove most Irish people want end to hunt cruelty

Two opinion polls carried out by the Sunday Independent have shown that a majority of Irish people want the government to act to have foxhunting banned.

In January, a telephone poll carried out by the newspaper asked "Would you favour banning fox hunting in this country?". The results showed a majority of 55 per cent saying “yes”.

Another poll carried out by the same paper in February recorded 56 per cent in favour of a ban, nine per cent unsure and the remainder opposed to a ban.

Although the results of the polls don't match the level of opposition recorded against live hare coursing, they are nonetheless very encouraging.

Fox hunting and hare coursing both involve horrendous forms of cruelty so why are more people apparently opposed to coursing than fox hunting?

The reason for this, we believe, is that the cruelty involved in fox hunting is rarely seen by members of the public. While, footage of coursing cruelty has been shown on numerous occasions on national television, fox hunt barbarity has yet to be fully exposed.

Hunt activities such as the digging out of foxes, terrier work and cub hunting take place away from the view of the public and are extremely difficult to capture on film.

If the public could see exactly what hunters do to our wildlife, we have no doubt that the results of these recent polls would have recorded much higher levels of opposition to fox hunting.

In contrast, a telephone poll carried out by RTE’s ‘Questions and Answers’ in January on whether foxhunting should be banned recorded the opposite of the two Sunday Independent polls, with 45 per cent in favour of a ban and 55 per cent against.

Obviously, the Sunday Independent’s two polls, conducted on a scientific basis, taking a representative sample of adults over 15, would be far more reliable than inviting people to phone in to a television programme to cast their vote. Some of our supporters reported not being able to get through on the night as the line was constantly engaged.

Sunday People supports campaign
Thousands of angry readers criticise foxhunters on anti-hunt hotline

The Sunday People newspaper has pledged its support to the campaign to end foxhunting in Ireland.

In a article headed “Blood on their hands”, the paper described foxhunting as a “cowardly and brutal ‘sport’.”

Photos published alongside the story showed hunters and hounds alongside a railway line, the remains of a fox torn apart by hounds and a hunter with a fox grasped in his hands.

An anti-hunt hotline set up by the newspaper attracted thousands of calls from readers who expressed their anger that hunting remains legal in Ireland.

An outraged Donegal farmer was quoted as saying: “I do not see how anyone could call this sport and I wouldn’t allow anyone on my farm to hunt - I have No Hunting and No Shooting signs up all over my land. I feel very strongly about it and so do a lot of my farmer friends.”

Another caller said: “A fox took one of our ducks and people said we would not be so keen now but that is just nature. I would be all for animal welfare.”

ICABS congratulates the Sunday People for this initiative and thanks them for their support.

Complaint against “rude” Spanish ambassador

A complaint has been lodged against the Spanish Ambassador to Ireland after he returned anti-bullfighting petitions which were sent to him by ICABS.

The batch of petitions - downloaded off our website and signed by secondary school students in Australia - were received by us in August. We promptly forwarded copies to Jose Maria Sanz-Pastor.

Two days later, the petitions were back in the ICABS office along with the brief explanatory letter we had sent. There was accompanying correspondence from the ambassador enclosed.

The only conclusion we could come to was that Mr Sanz-Pastor does not want to entertain any form of protest against his country’s appalling blood sport activities.

ICABS subsequently complained about the ambassador’s rude behaviour to both the Spanish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. We outlined how Mr Sanz-Pastor is a diplomatic guest here and that his response to our petitions was offensive.

“We feel that as the ambassador to Ireland, he should respect all correspondence received and extend courtesy to those who take the trouble to contact him,” we stated.

Spanish officials must have a policy of ignoring correspondence concerning bullfighting because neither of our complaints were acknowledged.

NOTE: Jose Maria Sanz-Pastor is no longer the Spanish Ambassador to Ireland. The new ambasaddor is Sr Enrique Pastor de Gana and he can be contacted at the Embassy of Spain, 17A Merlyn Park, Dublin 4. Please write to Sr de Gana and express your views on the cruelty of bullfighting.

Anti-hunt protester wins court appeal

Tom Hardiman of Ganty, Craughwell, Loughrea had his conviction for public order offences overturned at Galway District Court last October.

As reported in the last edition of Animal Watch, Mr Hardiman had been convicted at Loughrea District Court the previous April.

Mr Hardiman's “crime” was that he carried out a peaceful protest outside Loughrea Cathedral in January 2000 to highlight the fact that local bishop, John Kirby, allowed the Galway Blazers foxhunt to hunt on his 70 acre farm outside Loughrea.

On the day in question, the Gardaí arrived at the scene, ordered Mr Hardiman to stop his protest and confiscated his placards. He subsequently received a summons to attend court and answer public order offences which he was convicted of.

Mr Hardiman appealed the conviction and was successful. RTÉ News carried reports on both the initial and appeal cases.

ICABS is delighted that Mr Hardiman has been vindicated in his right to protest. We believe that the local Gardaí acted wrongly in charging him with public order offences and we view this case as an important one in terms of upholding the constitutional and civil rights of individuals and groups to peacefully protest.

A poem by Charmaine Martin

Spring is in the air
He emerges from his lair
The birds are singing
Flowers are blooming

Oh, life is great
He’s off to mate
She’ll be his wife
Together for life

Over the fields he bounds
When suddenly,
thunderous sounds
With panic in his heart
He hears the dogs bark

He hears the horn
By dogs he will be torn
He must run and hide
For his home on the otherside

Horns blowing, they’re near
Panic stricken, full of fear
Dogs snapping at his heels
He rushes through the fields

For mercy he begins to scream
Ahead appears a stream
He plunges in the water
And swims towards her

To the otherside he went
The dogs have lost his scent
She is huddled in fear
She thought his time was near

They plan their future together
He’ll stay with her forever
They’ll stay this side of the stream
And hope they’ll never hear the huntsman’s scream

Charmaine Martin is an ICABS supporter in Kerry. Thanks for submitting the poem, Charmaine

Thank you!

ICABS wishes to thank everyone who sent in subscriptions and donations since the last issue of Animal Watch. Without your support, our work could not continue. Thank you very much.

Thank you also to all those who gave their time to respond to our letter writing campaigns.

Coursing goes ahead despite FMD fears

The last event in the 2000/2001 coursing calendar went ahead despite nationwide fears over the spread of foot and mouth disease.

The Irish Cup meeting took place in Tralee on February 23, 24 and 25 - despite the fact that the first day of the event coincided with a statement by hunting organisation, FACE Ireland, that all hunting was to be called off. FACE represents all hunting in the country, including hare coursing.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s 5-7 Live, spokesperson David Wilkinson said that the hunters were going to act responsibly and stop all hunting from midnight.

When ICABS called the Department of Agriculture that day to warn them about the coursing event and the possibility of people travelling from Britain and Northern Ireland to take part with their dogs, the official we spoke to seemed unconcerned and simply said: “You can’t stop all trade and commerce.”

When we phoned the Gardaí in Tralee to ask if the event was going to continue, we were told that it was.

When we advised the on-duty Garda that Minister Joe Walsh had called on all hunting to cease, he said: “Sure that crowd wouldn’t listen to the Minister anyway.” This provides an interesting insight into how the coursers are viewed by at least some of the constabulary in Tralee.

Meanwhile, the infamous Waterloo Cup at Altcar, Liverpool, was called off. This must have proved a disappointment to the Irish coursing fraternity who, judging from their selfishness and lack of patriotism in carrying on with the Tralee event, would have had no problem going to Britain, despite the foot and mouth outbreaks there.

Anti-bullfight coalition

ICABS has joined with six prominent European campaigning groups to form a new coalition group called APACE - Association for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty in Entertainment.

The aim of the coalition is to form a strong, united force against bullfighting, blood fiestas, hunting with dogs and other cruel practices involving the use of animals for entertainment.

The initiative is the brainchild of Tony Moore of Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe. Tony lost his wife and co-campaigner, Vicki, last year following five years of suffering after being badly gored by a bull when she was filming a bullrun.

Tony and Vicki lobbied in the European Parliament and were successful in having some fiestas banned - notably the throwing of goats from belfries and the decapitating of chickens. The most recent success has been the imposition of fines for a cruel event involving tying fireballs to the horns of bulls. This is now classified as “an event not permitted”.

In 1999 Tony and Vicki showed the horrific video footage of a fire bull incident which shocked MEPs who immediately decided that pressure should be applied to the Spanish authorities for a halt to the torture. The result is the imposition of a £200 fine on a Town Council if the event is carried out.

Tony Moore sees this as the beginning of the end for this cruel blood fiesta.

Things they Said

"The Irish media army’s silence during the three-day Clonmel event, their derisory coverage when they did deign to report, should not be interpreted as indifference. They are merely waiting, hiding in the long grass, for the campaign to begin. When it does, the coursing fans, the hunters, will have no chance.” (Diarmuid O'Flynn, columnist, Cork Examiner, bemoaning the lack of media coverage of Clonmel’s national coursing meeting)

"Hunting is not an issue in Ireland." (Dublin TD, Brian Lenihan, on RTE’s Questions & Answers, January 2001. Write to Mr Lenihan at Dáil Éireann, Kildare Street, Dublin 2)

"We have no multiplex cinemas in the countryside.” (James E Norton, Irish Masters of Foxhounds, on why foxhunting must be allowed to continue. BBC’s Country File, October 2000)

“I would not return to Ireland if there was a drag hunt. The chase, the event, the kill are all part of the game.” (A blood sport enthusiast from America who comes to Ireland every year to kill our wildlife)

“We could kill the guys who made that video.” (Kate Horgan, Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association, on the South Union video which showed a terrified fox being attacked by a terrier, dug out of the ground and thrown to the hounds by hunters. Irish Times Magazine, February 2001)

“I am quite satisfied with our operation of fox hunting and other field activities here.” (Minister, Joe Walsh, in response to an ICABS appeal for an inquiry into hunting with hounds. Irish Independent, August 2000)

Hunt stays off bishop’s land
Bishop bombarded by ICABS letter writing campaigners

A full year after the Irish Council Against Blood Sports appealed to a Galway bishop to make his land off-limits to foxhunters, we now have reason to believe that our campaign has been a success.

Rev John Kirby, the Bishop of Clonfert, had allowed the Galway Blazers foxhunt access to his lakeside land for 13 years.

This continued even after ICABS made a written appeal to the bishop, outlining the cruelty of foxhunting and his duty to set a good example when it comes to compassion for animals.

Our appeal initially fell on deaf ears - our observers witnessed the hunt subsequently entering the bishop’s land on several occasions - but it appears that Bishop Kirby has finally taken steps to make his land a haven for wildlife.

On the last two occasions on which the Galway Blazers were in the vicinity of the bishop’s land, they did not enter the property.

Bishop John Kirby
Bishop Kirby: Allowed hunt on to church land

Although it remains unconfirmed whether the hunt decided themselves not to enter the land or whether the bishop instructed them to stay away, we hope that it was Bishop Kirby who took the initiative and made a positive move for wildlife.

We believe that the work of ICABS letter writing campaigners played a vital role in this development. An appeal launched by us to our team of nationwide letter writers saw dozens contacting the bishop.

We also succeeded in having the bishop’s behaviour highlighted in the media.

“I fully support the Irish Council Against Blood Sports’ call on Bishop John Kirby to ban fox hunting from the 70-acre farm adjacent to his episcopal palace in Loughrea,” announced News of the World columnist Bishop Pat Buckley.

He went on to ask the question: “How can any Christian clergyman pronounce God’s blessing on the wanton destruction of wildlife?”

Meanwhile, an article in Ireland on Sunday reported on Bishop Kirby’s plans to “take a look at how the land was being used”.

In our original appeal to the bishop, we asked for him to make the land a haven for foxes and all wild creatures. We drew his attention to paragraph 2418 of the Catechism which states that “it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly.”

Action Item

Please write a letter to Bishop Kirby asking him to confirm that he has permanently barred foxhunters from his property. Write to: Rev Bishop John Kirby, Coorheen, Loughrea, Co Galway.

Thank you and congratulations to all the ICABS letter writers around the country who have already given their time to write letters of appeal to Bishop Kirby.

Our hunting employee is “not breaking rules”: ISPCA

The ISPCA has claimed that there is nothing they can do about an employee involved in foxhunting activities.

In a News of the World article in March, ISPCA Chief Executive, Ciaran O’Donovan insisted that an ISPCA dog warden who attended a hunt ball was “not breaking any rules”.

Mr O’Donovan added: “If [our warden] decides to go to a hunt ball, he is entitled to do so.”

ICABS is dismayed at this attitude of acceptance adapted by the society.

A new rule introduced by the ISPCA now compels incoming employees to sign a pledge saying that they have no connections with foxhunts. We have to wonder, however, why this rule was not introduced much sooner.

Alarm bells should have been ringing at ISPCA headquarters a long time ago when it became clear that local SPCAs were being steadily infiltrated by foxhunters. ICABS has continually exposed this in an effort to spur the ISPCA into action.

Mr O’Donovan readily admits that “there are lots of people who go foxhunting who are involved with local SPCAs”.

This is a well known fact. The question is: What is the ISPCA doing to rid itself of these blood sport enthusiasts?

Coursing dog tests positive for dope

It seems that the doping of greyhounds continues in the tawdry and sick ‘sport’ of live hare coursing.

It was reported in the press that ‘Ballymac View’, winner of the ‘Bitch Oaks’ at Clonmel national coursing finals last February, tested positive for a banned substance.

It was also reported that the greyhound had been treated for a number of illnesses before the Clonmel event.

It seems that the dog, an outsider at 50/1 before the commencement of coursing, caused a major upset by knocking out the favourite, Dunsilly Laura, in the semi-finals.

The owners of the greyhound intend to take legal action on the findings of the drug test which was conducted at the Bord na gCon laboratory in Limerick.

Carmel Power

ICABS extends deepest sympathy to Dick Power on the death of his wife, Carmel who passed away in January of this year.

Dick and Carmel had been married for over 40 years and were devoted to each other.

Carmel had been a staunch ally and supporter of Dick in his campaigning work for ICABS. Our sympathies to the Power Family on their loss.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis.

Priest blesses hunt hounds

The opening meet of the Kilmoganny Hunt in November 2000 was marked by a blessing of the hounds by local priest, Fr Willie Dalton. Please write to Fr Dalton and ask him to stop giving his support to blood sports. The address is: Fr Willie Dalton, Parochial House, Dunamaggin, Kilkenny.

UK hunting ban update

On January 16th last, there was an overwhelming Commons majority for an outright ban on hunting wild animals with dogs.

Licensing and self regulation options were defeated. However, as expected, the House of Lords recently challenged this government backed bill, voting down a hunt ban and even the softer options of licensing and self regulation.

The Labour Government now has the option, under the Parliamentary Act, of obliging the House of Lords to accept the will of the House of Commons, i.e. the will of the majority of citizens.

In any event, Tony Blair goes to the country in June for an election, and it is expected that the Bill will be brought back into the Commons and pushed through in spite of the Lords.

Campaigners in the UK are continuing to urge him to proceed with pushing through the legislation under the Parliamentary Act.

“Words of Wisdom”

"Fox hunters raising money for a charitable cause is a thing hard to stomach. While I'm sure there were genuinely charitable motivations on the part of the people involved, I cannot help but see it as also being an image-improvement exercise on their part. That's distasteful, to say the least." (Richard Champman, columnist Galway City Tribune)

"Self enforcement is as effective as the Garda Complaints Commission. It is totally ineffective. There is no monitoring or independent checks. The rules are meaningless." (Tony Gregory, TD on the foxhunters' so-called code of conduct)

“Two young fellows came to shoot [the badger] but there was no way I was going to let her be shot. There’s an awful lot of wildlife destroyed that shouldn’t be. Badgers are good, clean living animals and are not a threat to livestock.” (Farmer, Patrick Flynn, who provided refuge for a badger and her two new-born cubs)

“It came to the Crier’s attention last Sunday that the Square was almost entirely taken over by horse boxes as the hunting set moved into town. One particularly unpleasant female was even overheard demanding that motorists remove their cars from the Square to make room for more horse boxes to arrive. The Crier was unaware that parking spaces in the Square could be pre-booked by anybody - including the hunting brigade.” (The Town Crier columnist, Roscommon Champion)

Anti-bullfighting news
Tayto urged to pull bullfighting advert

Crisp company, Tayto, has been urged by ICABS to immediately withdraw a TV advert that glamorises bullfighting.

The 40-second ad, currently running on TV3, features Jose, a Spanish matador who moves to Ireland for the taste of Tayto crisps.

The ad, described by Tayto as being part of an “exciting new television advertising campaign”, includes bullring scenes in which the character is waving to an applauding crowd. Several shots of Jose with a red bullfighting cape are also shown.

In our letter to Tayto’s publicity agents, we pointed out that the advert trivialises what is in reality an horrific blood sport involving the slow torture to death of thousands of bulls every year.

Tayto character
Tayto’s Jose abandoned blood sport glory to come to Ireland

The company refuted our claims, however, saying: “Tayto in no way supports or condones the 'sport' of bull-fighting."

This statement is extremely difficult to accept. How can Tayto claim that they do not condone bullfighting when their ad undeniably portrays the bullfighter as a hero who is “loved by millions”?

Further questions must be raised about their blood sport policy when a Tayto press release published on the company’s website depicts bullfighting in a favourable light.

According to the statement:

At the time of going to press, Tayto continue to defend their ad, saying that “no effort is made in any way to glorify, glamorise or propagate bullfighting.”

Interestingly, the spokesperson goes on to explain that: “Care was taken...not to show any bullfighting or cruelty.”

This appears to suggest that the company is perfectly aware that the blood sport involves cruelty but they chose to gloss over it and misportray the true nature of matadors.

Action Item

Please contact Tayto and demand that they withdraw this ad immediately. Write to: Tayto Ltd, Greencastle Rd, Dublin 17. Tel: 01-8036090. Email: Alternatively you can send a message directly from their website.

Postcard plea to Spanish bishops

ICABS has joined 135 animal welfare groups from around the world in supporting a campaign that is calling on the Catholic Church in Spain to stop supporting cruelty fiestas.

The initiative, organised by Barcelona’s Anti Bullfighting Campaign (ABC), aims to present tens of thousands of protest postcards to church leaders in a bid to persuade them to denounce the animal torture.

The message on the cards is clear: “Stop the torture and killing of animals during Catholic fiestas. These barbaric and cruel practices give religious celebrations a bad name. Animal suffering is no fiesta.”

The controversial fiestas are organised in celebration of Catholic patron saints and according to ABC, the church has the power to bring the barbarity to an end.

“The Spanish Catholic Bishops can decide to end these cruel fiestas and call for fiestas without the use of animals,” stated a spokesperson.

Methods of torture used in the fiestas include: shooting metal darts into the skin of animals, chasing exhausted animals into rivers and beating calves to death.

The campaign will culminate this September when a presentation of all returned cards will be made to the Archbishop of Madrid.

Animals found struggling in deadly Department snares

Two animals found desperately struggling for freedom were the victims of Department of Agriculture snares, according to Badger Watch Ireland.

The fox and badger were found in a very distressed state by a caring Monaghan motorist who stopped on his way to work to investigate.

The scene he came upon shocked him. Lying on the ground was a whining fox and an adult badger - both clearly exhausted from trying to free themselves.

And as if the snares weren’t bad enough, the badger sett at which the animals were found had been dug up. Near the entrance to the sett was a dead baby badger. It remains unclear who was responsible for this further act of cruelty - those who laid the snares or badger baiters who may have stumbled upon the sett.

dead baby badger
Was the Department responsible for the death of this baby badger? (Photo:

The grim discoveries were made close to Dartrey Forest outside Cootehill.

A total of six snares were present around the sett and these were later confirmed to be the property of the Department of Agriculture.

The man who found them rushed to get help and eventually the animals were released with a bolt cutters.

He stated that the fox was so weak that he just lay there. Eventually, after being given a drink of water, both animals slowly regained some energy and walked weakly away.

Commenting on the incident, Bernie Barrett of Badger Watch said: “This is one of the most horrific incidents we have heard about in some time.”

The snares used are part of a dubious Department drive to cull badgers suspected of spreading TB.

The devices are set and, in theory, are checked on a daily basis.

However, Badger Watch are now questioning whether the snares which caught the Cootehill animals may have been set on a Friday evening - more than two days before their Monday morning rescue.

Action Item

Write to Ministers Joe Walsh and Síle DeValera. Ask them to ban the use of the snare due to its inhumane and barbaric nature. Remind them that the badger is a protected species. Contact details are as follows:

Minister Joe Walsh, Department of Agriculture, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-607 2892 or LoCall 1890-200 150. Fax: 01-661 1013 Email:

Minister Sile DeValera, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4. Tel: 01-667 0788 Extension 2321 or LoCall 1890-474 847. Fax: 01-647 3101. Email:

Caring Cavan farmer saves badgers

We wanted to end the newsletter on a positive note and we’re sure we’ve found the perfect piece to do just that!

A story recently carried in the Roscommon Champion tells how caring Cavan farmer, Patrick Flynn, provided a safe haven for an expectant badger sow.

The farmer who was watching over his calving cow suddenly spotted “something that looked like a coat rolled up” in an old fireplace in his cowshed.

This thing was seen to be breathing and when it looked up at him he was stunned to see it was a badger!

During the night, both the cow and badger gave birth. The cow and calf were said to be “as content with the badgers as the flowers of May”.

When word spread about the mother badger, however, two locals eagerly arrived with guns to shoot her. But Mr Flynn was having none of it.

“There was no way I was going to let her be shot,” he said, adding “There’s an awful lot of wildlife destroyed that shouldn’t be.”

Dismissing claims that badgers spread TB, he outlined his belief that they are not in fact a threat to livestock.

“There’s plenty of them on my land. I’m testing cattle for 50 years and we’ve never had a case of TB.

He acknowledges badgers as “good, clean living animals”. In fact, before the mother left the cowshed with her cubs, she made sure to clean up the spot where she gave birth.

Said an amused Mr Flynn: “I opened the doors and she went but before she left, she cleaned out that fireplace that hadn’t been cleaned for years!”


Animal Watch is published by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, PO Box 88, Mullingar, County Westmeath. Tel/Fax: 044-49848. Website:

Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell
Layout and Design: Philip Kiernan.

All submissions to Animal Watch should be sent for consideration to the above address along with your name, address and telephone number.

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