Animal Watch

Animal Watch, Issue 1, 2003
Full Contents - Pages 1-24

Coursers demand taxpayers’ money
And Minister Joe Walsh says they’ll get it!

The Irish Coursing Club are demanding Exchequer funding to help support their blood sport activities, ICABS has learned.

The club is desperate to get its hands on a chunk of the grant aid doled out by the Government to Bord na gCon.

But Bord na gCon are resisting the demands because they believe that if money is given to coursing, "it will mark the beginning of the end for greyhound sports"

According to the Bord’s chairman, any such move would lead to anti-blood sports campaigners "putting pressure on the Minister and on Brussels".

Meanwhile, the hare coursers appear to have a friend in Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh. They claim Minister Walsh promised them funding at a Select Dáil Committee meeting in 2001.

They quoted the Minister as stating that the coursing clubs "are the linchpin of the whole [greyhound] industry and deserve to get their proportionate amount of funding and I will make sure that happens."

The danger that coursing clubs might actually get taxpayers’ money to carry on their barbarity is unthinkable.

It is bad enough that coursing is now attached to the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, thus elevating this despicable activity to the status of "sport".

A statement on the Department’s website outlines that its goal is to "formulate and oversee the implementation of policies for the promotion and development of sport and to encourage increased participation in sport and recreation". We hope that this doesn’t include live hare coursing.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, John O’Donoghue, to ensure that not a penny of taxpayers’ money is given to coursing. Funding a cruel activity which is opposed by eighty per cent of the population would be highly unacceptable.

Action Item:
Please contact Minister John O’Donoghue and insist that no funding is given to coursing clubs. Contact: Minister O’Donoghue, Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, Frederick Buildings, South Frederick Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-631 3802. Email:

A courser grips an injured hare and kicks a greyhound. Animal abusers like this could benefit from Minister’s "promise". Image © ICABS

Historic victory in sight for campaigners in UK

Live hare coursing and deer hunting with hounds are to be banned in the UK, and that’s almost definite.

Fox hunting with hounds is not so clearcut, however.

According to the recently published Hunting Bill, fox hunting is to be curtailed, and licensed, with hunts having to prove that it is necessary, "for utility purposes", to hunt down and kill a fox.

The stated purpose of the Bill which is now at committee stage is "to make provision about hunting wild mammals with dogs and to prohibit hare coursing".

However, the majority of Labour MPs in the UK want closure on the matter and say they will not be satisfied with anything less than a complete ban on hunting with hounds - including fox hunting.

Whatever is decided about fox hunting, it will be a historic milestone for campaigners to finally see consigned to history the barbaric blood sports of live hare coursing and deer hunting.

It is expected that the Hunting Bill will have its final stage in Parliament sometime in March 2003.

Appalling scenes like this could soon be a thing of the past in the UK with a ban on coursing appearing likely. Photo © Tony Moore/FAACE

Church challenged over hunt chaplain

The Catholic Church has been challenged over reports that a priest in County Clare is acting as chaplain to a foxhunt.

According to an article in the Irish Field newspaper: "Fr Joe Hourigan is chaplain to the [County Clare Foxhounds], an enormous responsibility given the characters he has to deal with!"

And he is not the first member of the clergy to be involved with this particular hunt. The report goes on to outline that Fr Hourigan "follows in the tradition of hunting priests like Fr Loughnane, who hunted regularly with both the Blazers and the County Clares."

ICABS has sent a copy of the article to the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth and asked for all priests to disassociate themselves from activities involving extreme animal cruelty.

Cavan Tourism scraps online hunting promo

The Cavan Tourism website has removed a reference to foxhunting following an ICABS appeal in January 2003.

Hunting was listed as a tourist attraction in the equestrian section of the site.

Said Rachel Doherty of Tourism Marketing Cavan: "We have instructed our web hosters to delete this reference as requested."

Thank you!

ICABS wishes to thank everyone who sent in subscriptions and donations since the last issue of Animal Watch.

Without your generous support, our work could not continue.

A special thanks also to those who continue to give their time to respond to our letter writing appeals and to help with other campaigning efforts.

Irish celebs back badger campaign

A "Save the Badger" campaign launched by the Irish Mirror has drawn support from several Irish celebrities.

All have expressed their concerns over the Department of Agriculture’s dubious TB Eradication Scheme which involves slaughtering tens of thousands of badgers.

Speaking out against the mass cull, Belfast-based TV presenter, Eamonn Holmes, said: "Surely there is some other way around this problem instead of just killing a random 30 per cent of the badgers."

Comedian Patrick Kielty agrees. "To actually go out and lay traps outside badger setts is unbelievable," he commented. "And the fact that badgers are a protected species makes the whole thing even worse."

Coronation Street actor and former Boyzone star, Keith Duffy, criticised the Department of Agriculture’s methods.

"The Department should do some more research before they carry out the cull to see if the badgers they are killing actually have TB or not," he said. "It seems crazy that the Government are allowed to go ahead with this."

And model Vivienne Connolly had this to say: "To cull 30 per cent of a protected species without finding out if they are infected or not just makes no sense. It’s like playing Russian roulette with animals’ lives."

Sophie poses for anti-fur poster

Singer Sophie Ellis Bextor has posed for a horrific anti-fur poster which she hopes will shock people into boycotting fur.

The poster, bearing the slogan "Here’s the rest of your fur coat", shows the singer holding up a skinned fox.

Sophie says she agreed to join the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals anti-fur campaign due to an increased number of celebrities wearing fur.

She criticised the fur industry for its ongoing attempts to make fur fashionable through such celebrities as Kate Moss, J-Lo and model Gisele.

"I hope this picture sparks the debate on fur again," says Sophie. "It’s a serious subject but we’ve all just forgotten that wearing fur is totally unacceptable."

Sophie Ellis Bextor in PETA’s hardhitting anti-fur poster.

Singer’s son suspended from school

According to reports last March, singer Bryan Ferry’s son was suspended from Eton College for allegedly sending an offensive email.

Sixteen year old Isaac Ferry allegedly sent the email to anti-hunting campaigner, Simon Wild, of the West Sussex Wildlife Protection Group. Mr Wild, who described the email as "very upsetting" lodged complaints with both the police and the school.

Isaac Ferry reportedly hunts with the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt in West Sussex.

Leonardo acts to save elephants

Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has lent his support to the campaign to save elephants from ruthless ivory poachers.

The actor has joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare in highlighting the threat posed to elephants in Africa and Asia.

"The vast majority of African and Asian countries are fighting to save elephants," he said. "However, a powerful minority in southern Africa wants to reopen the trade in elephant ivory."

For more information on Leonardo DiCaprio’s efforts to save the elephants, visit

Animal Watch: fit for a bishop!

Animal Watch has been praised as a top newsletter by News of the World columnist, Bishop Pat Buckley!

"I’ve just received [the latest issue] of Animal Watch and I’m amazed at how professional a magazine it is, given the fact that ICABS funding is so restricted," wrote Bishop Buckley.

"The Irish Council Against Blood Sports do a wonderful job standing up for the dignity and rights of animals but so often they come up against opposition and ignorance," he added.

ICABS thanks Bishop Pat Buckley for his ongoing help in exposing the cruelty of blood sports in Ireland through his popular column.

Bishop Buckley: Impressed with ICABS newsletter.

Complaint made following emails from hunt boy

ICABS has lodged a complaint with the management of a school in Oxford, England following the receipt of abusive emails.

The email messages appear to have come from two email addresses at Summerfields, the Oxford Boys’ Preparatory Boarding School.

We believe the senders were two boys, one of whom claimed to be a 13-year-old foxhunter who had attended 500 hunts.

The pair felt compelled to contact us after having a look at our new “Ban Fox Hunting” website which contains revealing video clips of foxhunting cruelty in Ireland.

The pair obviously didn’t like the fact that the truth about foxhunting was being exposed.

"All of those clips are b***oks and none of them are true," one of the boys wrote, "That never happens." Another message received appealed for us to: "F*** off you city pleb."

Summerfields School secretary, Christine Berry, responded as follows to our complaint: "Thank you very much for informing us [about the messages]. I have passed it on to the headmaster and the boys will be dealt with immediately."

Eamonn Darcy a keen hunter in Co Wicklow

A report in the Irish Field last February described international golfer Eamonn Darcy as "a keen hunt follower".

The article on the Wicklow Foxhounds outlined that Darcy "took it in style on his well turned-out chestnut."

"He has a great seat and very sympathetic hands which allows the horse to stretch when jumping," it added.

A few paragraphs later we were told of a "nice dog fox who gave [the hounds] a good spin up and down this long stretch of covert."

According to the report, this fox was put under pressure as he was chased by 20 foxhounds which eventually caught and killed the animal.

Petitions signed in USA and UK

ICABS petitions against blood sports have been rolling in not only from all over Ireland but from all over the world.

Concerned citizens in Wales, England and New Jersey, USA are among the latest to lend their support to our campaign.

All petitions received by us are copied and sent to the relevant Government Ministers in an effort to remind them of the overwhelming desire - both at home and abroad - for blood sports to be finally outlawed in Ireland.

Petitions against foxhunting, hare coursing and carted deer hunting are available to download from the ICABS website.

Pub guide promotes foxhunts

The publishers of an Irish pubs brochure have been urged to omit references to foxhunting from future editions.

The Vintners Research & Development Company's "Irish Pubs of Distinction 2001" booklet mentioned hunting in two of its entries and featured a photograph of fox hunters and hounds.

The photograph, showing a mounted hunt master being served a drink, was placed alongside information on Roscrea's Racket Hall pub.

Meanwhile, the entry for The Golden Thatch pub in Emly, County Tipperary, boasts that "hunters will be spoiled for choice in this area".

Foxhunting is again promoted in the section dealing with pubs in the west - the Blazers Bar is described as "the meeting place for the famous Galway Blazers Hunt."

In an appeal to the publishers of the brochure, ICABS pointed out that foxhunting is opposed by a majority of Irish citizens.

Spokesperson, Anne Duke, replied as follows: "We will draw your observations to the attention of those who provided the scripts for our brochure. We do not have a policy of support for foxhunting."

Action Item:

Please join us in our efforts by contacting the Vintners Research & Development Company Ltd, VFI House, Castleside Drive, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14. Tel: 01-4923400. Fax: 01-4923577. Email:

Ask them to please stop promoting animal cruelty by featuring references to foxhunting in their brochure.

Do you know of any other tourist publications which promote blood sports? If so, please let us know immediately.

Kill for a pint? Brochure caters for foxhunters.

Acorn Life sorry about coursing ad

Acorn Life has apologised for an advert which appeared in a coursing club booklet.

Company Chief Executive, Gerard O'Connell, explained that a self-employed local level associate was responsible for placing the ad in the Mallow coursing club publication.

"She placed and paid for the advertisement without any approval from the Branch Manager or Head Office," he said. "It is the policy of the company to have all sponsorship or advertisements authorised by Head Office."

"I have spoken to the Branch Manager in Cork and he in turn has spoken to the associate involved," he added.

Mr O'Connell went on to state that it is against Acorn Life policy to support any form of cruelty. However, he accepted that on this occasion, the company name had been associated with the coursing event but that the company was sorry it happened.

"I apologise for the hurt this has caused and assure you that as a company we do not support events of this kind," he said. "I hope that my assurance will give you some comfort in your continued fight against inhumane activities."

Free car stickers

Help promote the work of ICABS by displaying one of our eye-catching car stickers on your back window.

The sticker displays our logo and website address - - in bold red letters.

For your free car sticker, simply send us your name and address and, if possible, an SAE.

Dana shares bull abuse concerns

Anti-cruelty campaigners are singing the praises of Dana Rosemary Scallon after she revealed her efforts to highlight the cruelty of bullfighting.

In a letter to an ICABS supporter in Cork, the Connacht-Ulster MEP stated that she "has difficulty with this so-called sport" and has voiced her views to colleagues in the European Parliament.

"Because of subsidiarity, i.e. the right of citizens in each member state to decide on what is lawful, or morally acceptable within their own country, it is not an easy matter to deal with this issue on a European level." she said. "However, I will continue to highlight your concerns and the fact that many people share them, including myself."

Independent MEP, Dana Scallon: highlighting bull abuse in Euro Parliament.

Statoil act to protect logo

In the last issue of Animal Watch we reported on how several companies had become linked to blood sports by allowing their logos to appear in a coursing club booklet.

One of these companies was Statoil Ireland. You will recall how their PR Manager, Martina Byrne, explained that the local agent who placed the ad was an "independent businessman" and that Statoil could not "direct or instruct him in the running of his business or where he chooses to advertise".

After receiving this reply, we got back to Statoil with examples of other companies who had taken every step possible to prevent their company brand or logo being in any way associated with a blood sport activity.

And we are now happy to report that Statoil have considered the points we raised and are investigating the possibility of restricting the use of their logo in advertisements.

"We have discussed the matter with our legal advisors and we are currently exploring the feasibility of altering future dealer agreements to include matters in relation to the use of the Statoil logo in advertisements," stated Ms Byrne.

"As a corporate body, Statoil Ireland Limited does not support blood sports by sponsorship of any kind," she added.

Things They Said

"They course with muzzles in Ireland and it's worse. The hares get battered to death. Because the dogs can't pick the hare up, they batter it with their heads. It's a more painful death." Peter Lister, secretary of the Coquetdale and Border coursing club in England. The Times, February 2002.

"With farmers becoming more and more cautious as the season goes on, [Philip Copithorne, master huntsman of Cork’s South Union Hunt] believes that it is imperative that they are kept on the best of terms throughout the entire year." An article in the The Irish Field of March 16th, 2002 acknowledges farmers’ concerns about hunts crossing their land.

"Who will replace the diehards when they inevitably call it a day...There is a problem at grassroots level because anyone with half an eye could see that attendances are down." Tom Kelly, Sporting Press commenting on the decline of involvement at coursing meetings. November 2002.

"It's hard to accept that a creature as noble as a fox should be classed as vermin." Thady Ryan, former Scarteen Foxhunt master. (Limerick Leader, September 2002). An ICABS letter was subsequently published in which we pointed out that it is indeed hard to accept - because it's not true! Under Irish law, foxes are not classed as vermin.

Coillte quizzed over forestry foxhunters

Coillte has maintained that foxhunters who entered a Waterford forest were not hunting foxes but merely retrieving their hounds!

The statement came after ICABS called on the forestry board to investigate an incident at Waterford’s Gardenmorris Forest. Photos obtained by ICABS show hunters and hounds on both sides of a forest entrance barrier.

Anti-blood sport campaigners monitoring the hunt last Saint Patrick’s Day say they witnessed around 15 mounted hunters from the Kill Harriers hunt jumping the barrier and entering the Coillte forest.

However, a statement from Coillte’s Stakeholder Relations Manager, Patricia Flanagan, says that "no hunting took place at Gardenmorris forest on 17th March."

"The hunt in question entered Coillte property for the purpose of retrieving some dogs that had entered in error," the statement claimed.

Meanwhile, ICABS has learned the identity of all three hunts which currently hold permits to hunt on Coillte property.

They are the Galway Blazers, the Bray Hunt and the Shillelagh Hunt. Both of the latter two are based in County Wicklow.

An ICABS supporter who contacted Coillte about the company's policy of allowing hunters on to their property was told that "Coillte facilitates hunts which have hunted over our land under permit prior to 2001 but we do not wish to license any others."

"Coillte's position is that the only situations where fox hunting is permitted are those where there are long established traditional rights or conventions which pre-date Coillte's ownership of the land," she said. "In these few cases Coillte honours these rights and allows hunting under permit."

And, incredibly, Coillte are trying to present this arrangement as something positive.

A spokesperson said: "It is preferable that hunting should take place under permit because this enables Coillte to attach restrictions rather than allowing unfettered access to our land. Granting permits therefore should be seen as controlling rather than supporting hunting."

The ICABS view is that it is preferable that no hunting whatsoever takes place on Coillte property. From previous lobbying of Coillte we know that the Galway Blazers hunt, for example, have access to around 30 square miles of Coillte forest. That represents a lot of opportunities for the unnecessary terrorisation of foxes.

During previous foxhunting seasons, hunters have been spotted cub hunting and interfering with fox earths on Coillte land.

ICABS does not accept that Coillte is obliged to allow any hunters in and we will continue to lobby them to afford protection to the wildlife residing in the forests. Please help us by responding to the Action Item below.

Action Item:

Please contact the following and appeal to them to withdraw all forestry permits to hunts.

Martin D Lowery, CEO, Coillte Teoranta, Head Office, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-6615666. Fax: 01-678 9527.

Patricia Flanagan, Stakeholder Relations Manager, Coillte, Bridge Street Centre, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Tel: 0502-78501. Fax: 0502-60524. Email:

A foxhunter inside the entrance barrier of a Waterford forest. Coillte maintain that the hunters were only retrieving hounds. Photo © Bernie Barrett

ICABS websites expose cruelty of blood sports

Three new websites launched by ICABS last November aim to expose the shocking cruelty of blood sports.

These unique websites present - for the first time ever - online video clips of blood sport cruelty in Ireland.

The "Ban Fox Hunting", "Ban Hare Coursing" and "Ban Carted Deer Hunting" websites each include ten video clips.

The foxhunting clips show a fox being dug out of the ground, viciously bitten by a terrier and eventually thrown to a pack of foxhounds.

The coursing footage shows various maulings while the deer hunting footage shows the Ward Union’s abusive treatment of deer.

The websites (which also include information leaflets and petitions) have been brought to the attention of all of our TDs, Senators and MEPs along with an appeal for them to pledge their support for our campaign.

The addresses of the three sites are as follows: and

A muzzled greyhound chases a hare in a scene from one of the video clips available on the Ban Hare Coursing website.

Packers sent packing

Dunnes Stores responded positively to an ICABS appeal last May to call a halt to a pony club fundraiser.

The Westmeath Hunt branch of the Pony Club were carrying out a bag packing fundraiser in the Harbour Place Shopping Centre store in Mullingar.

However, when ICABS informed Dunnes Stores’ head office that the club was connected to the local hunt, the fundraiser was stopped.

Earlier in the year, pony club notes published in the Westmeath Examiner newspaper urged members to attend a "mock hunt".

"It’s a great opportunity to learn more about hunting and to support our local hunt of which we are a part," the report stated.

ICABS thanks Dunnes Stores for doing the right thing and disassociating themselves from foxhunting.

Bulmers Bullrun

Bulmers have defended a television advert which showed a man taking part in the Pamplona bullrun.

The ad for Strongbow cider featured a man dressed in red dashing from a bull before escaping into a pub.

ICABS appealed to Bulmers to withdraw the ad on the grounds that it promoted a cruel activity which involves the terrorisation of bulls.

We also pointed out that after the bullrun is over, the bull is killed in a bullfighting arena.

In response, company spokesperson George Thomas commented: "At no time is a bull seen being harmed, nor does the commercial promote or condone bull fighting".

Not good enough! We still feel that any portrayal of animal cruelty in a humorous and light-hearted fashion amounts to a promotion of the activity.

At the time of going to press, the ad in question hasn’t been seen on TV for several months.

Political watch
More politicians pledge support for campaign

Over the past few months, ICABS has been continuing to lobby politicians in an effort to encourage them to work towards introducing legislation to ban blood sports in Ireland.

Despite the fact that this is an issue which a majority of Irish citizens want addressed, most TDs and Senators are maintaining their silence.

Why is this? Some are directly involved in blood sports while others are afraid to voice their opinion for fear of offending the minority who take pleasure in hounding animals for fun. Others hide behind the feeble excuse of not knowing enough about the issue to formulate an opinion.

Encouragingly, we have received some feedback from a cross-party selection of deputies and senators since the last edition of Animal Watch. Their comments are listed below.

As for the others, we will continue pressing them for their views and asking why they refuse to take action to ban cruel activities which are opposed by the majority.

For a more detailed list of pro- and anti-blood sport politicians, please see our website.

Thank you to all the ICABS supporters who have strengthened our efforts by contacting politicians at a local level. Keep up the good work.

Seán Ardagh, TD (Fianna Fáil): "I am not in favour of any kind of blood sports and will lobby whenever possible to have them banned."

Anti-blood sport TDs, Eamon Gilmore, Dan Boyle and Seán Ardagh.

Dan Boyle, TD (Green Party): "My views on blood sports are quite simple. I believe that the use of animals against animals for the purposes of 'sport', with the intent to kill or maim, is morally wrong and should be suitably legislated against."

Séamus Brennan, TD (Fianna Fáil): "I have no difficulty in stating my own personal view which is that I am against all blood sports."

Dr Jerry Cowley, TD (Independent): "I think [blood sports are] barbaric and totally unnecessary."

Eamon Gilmore, TD (Labour Party): "I am opposed to the blood sports of badger baiting, cock fighting, dog fighting, hare coursing and stag hunting."

Joe Higgins, TD (Socialist Party): "I am opposed to the hunting of foxes by hounds as indeed I am opposed to live hare coursing."

Noel O'Flynn, TD (Fianna Fáil): "I am on record as being totally opposed to all forms of blood sport. I will support any future legislation that will outlaw cruel blood sports."

Ruairí Quinn, TD (Labour Party): "I am against the hunting of live animals with dogs, i.e. fox hunting, live hare coursing and carted deer hunting."

Eamon Ryan, TD (Green Party): "Like most of my fellow Green Party TDs, I am firmly opposed to the current practice of fox hunting and hare coursing in the country which I feel cannot be defended on the grounds of preserving rural traditions or indeed any other conservation or rural development arguments."

Senator Jim Higgins (Fine Gael): "I am totally and unequivocally anti-blood sports. I think foxhunting is appealing to the lowest possible instincts in so-called civilised men. It is manifest barbaric cruelty."

Weakest Link's Anne presents foxhunt event

Weakest Link presenter, Anne Robinson, has been criticised by anti-blood sport campaigners in the UK for hosting a foxhunting fund-raiser.

When the BBC presenter turned up to host the Weakest Link-type quiz in Gloucestershire, she was met by more than a hundred protesters from the League Against Cruel Sports who chanted: "Weakest Link-Cruellest Link".

The fundraiser was organised in aid of the Vale of the White Horse Foxhunt.

Ms Robinson publicly admitted that she refused to watch a video tape sent to her by the League. The tape included footage showing the cruelty of foxhunting, mink hunting and other blood sports.

Commenting on her support for foxhunting, she said: "I care passionately about the countryside and the rights of people who live in it. I am on the side of liberty and the Prime Minister should address the real problems of rural Britain rather than picking on minorities."

Anne Robinson: Has questions to answer over hunt support

Top class fox views

When third class pupils in Castlebar were asked for their opinions on foxes, the predominant view was that they were vermin, sly, chicken killers and hated by all farmers.

Thankfully, not everyone held such negative attitudes towards this much misaligned animal.

Two young lads, in particular, stood out as having a top class understanding and appreciation of the fox.

Shane and David of St Patrick’s National School were quoted as follows on the school's website:

"The fox is one of the most beautiful animals in the world. It is most known for its beautiful bushy tail. It is called a brush. Their home is called an earth.

"Every spring the male fox mates and the female has cubs. When the cubs are old enough they will leave their parents and live alone in the woods or in the forest.

"Around once a week a fox gets killed on the roads. This is very sad."

Words of Wisdom

"These [foxhunters] just don't care. They have come onto farmers' property and cut electric and barbed wire. These people are superior beings according to their way of thinking. They don't seem to realise that the bad old days of Landlordism are long gone." Philip Lynch, former IFA County Chairman and founder of Farmers Against Hunting. (The Star, September 2002).

"The killing of badgers has been shown to be a discredited fiasco which is costly and cruel." Columnist Joe Kennedy on the government’s TB Eradication Scheme. (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, June, 2002).

"While individuals have every right to challenge legislation in the courts, the actions of this small hunting minority are those of a playground bully and an affront to a modern and democratic Scotland." Les Ward, Scottish Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs, on attempts by foxhunters to challenge a ban on their blood sport. (, July 2002).

"It is scandalous that Spain, a country currently holding presidency of the EU, is allowing man's best friend to be so cruelly and callously abused." A WSPCA investigator on the hanging to death of thousands of coursing greyhounds every year. Countless Irish greyhounds are exported to Spain. (The Star, April 2002).

Irish hare numbers continue to decline

ICABS is currently preparing a submission to the Council of Europe, citing the failure of the Irish Government to adhere to an EU Directive which states that a protected species may only be exploited provided this is compatible with its maintenance at a favourable status.

At present, Ireland does not have any information on hare numbers, and despite repeated calls to successive Ministers with responsibility for wildlife, this plea has fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, there is no way of knowing if hares are at a favourable status.

There are indicators that hares are becoming scarce in many areas, and this was identified in Northern Ireland which, like the Republic, signed up to the Biodiversity Convention in 1994. This convention required nations to take steps to protect threatened species.

According to a study carried out by Queen’s University, Belfast, hares in Northern Ireland have declined. They have also dramatically declined in Britain, according to a 1993 survey.

Northern Ireland has identified the hare as being a species in crisis, and has drawn up a Species Action Plan to counter-act the population drop.

Although our government signed up to this same convention, absolutely nothing has been done to address concerns here. A blind eye is being turned and hares are continuing to be exploited by hunting and coursing clubs.

The signs of decline are to be seen. In 1999, the coursers themselves expressed concern about a decline. And significantly, the Irish Coursing Club has introduced new rules this season, calling on clubs to "respect the preserves of other clubs" and not to "take, catch or net hares on lands near to or adjoining other club’s preserves."

There was also a warning "not to purchase hares for any purpose whatever, except from an authorised source." One wonders what is meant by "any purpose whatever".

According to the Wildlife Act, a dealer must have a licence and be approved to trade in wildlife, except for coursing clubs which are also permitted to buy and sell hares. In 1976, our government handed over the hare population to the Irish Coursing Club to exploit for their barbaric activities and in 2003 they continue to do so in the face of a certain decline.

ICABS has written to Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, warning of what we believe to be a flagrant breach of EU Conservation Directive 92/44/EEC, calling for a survey to ascertain hare numbers on the ground, and the cessation of all hunting and coursing of hares. To date, there has been no response.

Action Item:

Write to Minister Cullen, expressing concern about our hare population and calling for a survey. Minister Cullen, Dept of the Environment, Custom House, Dublin 1. Tel: 1890 202021 (Locall). Fax: 01 888 2888. Email:

Rail company examines hunt activity near track

Iarnród Éireann has followed up a request by ICABS to investigate a possible trespass onto tracks in Dublin.

An article about the Fingal Harriers published in a hunting publication outlined that the hunt's "first draw was down the left side of the Dublin/Belfast railway line". The article was brought to the attention of Iarnród Éireann who were asked to examine whether or not a hunt trespass had occurred.

Safety manager, Ted Corcoran, responded by saying that it was unlikely the hunt had entered their property.

"The location has been inspected and it is felt that the fencing and terrain does not lend itself to easy access. From the details supplied in the article, it appears that the hunt passed through Skerries Golf club and agricultural fields, which are adjacent to the railway line, but didn't actually encroach onto the line."

"Trespass remains a major concern for Iarnród Éireann," he added. "All our routes are patrolled regularly, especially busy routes such as the Dublin to Belfast line and it is the company's policy to prosecute trespassers."

Foxhunters resort to emotional blackmail

Foxhunters are now using a sickening form of emotional blackmail to gain access to farmers' lands to hunt down wildlife.

The following text was carried in an advert in Donegal Free Ads magazine, "The Dealer", for the Donegal Farmers Hunt:

"Attention All Farmers: Has a relative of yours ever suffered or maybe even died of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or any other illness for that matter? Would you like an opportunity to raise funds for research into that illness or any other local charity? One day a year, between November and March, would you allow the local hunt to cross your land on behalf of your chosen charity?"

We find this approach by the hunt to gain access to farmers' lands despicable in the extreme.

ICABS is well aware of the cynicism of the foxhunting fraternity in their public relations exercise of raising funds for charities in order to give themselves and their cruel activities a veneer of respectability and an acceptance in their local communities.

The advert in the Donegal magazine ended with this appeal: "Please help us in our quest for land and we will do our utmost for the charity closest to your heart."

Rarely is it spelled out so explicitly that the primary purpose of a hunt fundraiser is to benefit the hunt itself.

Charity fundraisers by hunts are on the increase and they are playing a definite role in keeping this blood sport alive.

These events usually take the form of a cross country chase during which it is frequently emphasised that no animal gets killed.

However, these hunt rides are inextricably linked to the terrorisation and tearing apart of foxes.

Hunts which gain permission to cross land during a cross country charity ride effectively have their foot in the door and are more likely to retain that permission for subsequent hunt outings.

Furthermore, we believe that hunt fundraisers for charity are used as an opportunity to deceitfully "illustrate" claims that foxes are rarely killed during a hunt.

Those who take part in the fundraising ride for charity are given a distorted view of what the hunt is about and may be more easily recruited.

Another function of these fundraising events is to secure positive publicity in the regional press.

As it is an ideal opportunity to draw attention away from their normal blood sport activities, the hunt never fail to alert the local media. As a result they invariably get a favourable write-up - normally, of course, without a mention of the thousands of foxes which hunts cruelly slaughter every year.

This was perfectly illustrated last April following a charity event organised by the Galway Blazers Hunt. The front page of the local Galway Independent newspaper featured a colour photograph of hunt members as they set out on their "charity horse run". Inside, two more photos appeared - one of County Mayor, Michael Regan, who helped out at the hunt’s charity auction.

The photos were in stark contrast to those published in a past issue of Animal Watch which showed the remains of a fox torn apart by Galway Blazers hounds.

ICABS fully understands how difficult it is for Irish charities to raise funds for their excellent and worthwhile work on behalf of humanity but, with all of the above in mind, we appeal to them to take a principled stand against animal cruelty.

Our message is clear: Please refuse the hunt’s "blood money" donation - those who accept are helping keep blood sports alive.

Sunday Mirror Champions the Badger Cause

ICABS congratulates the Sunday Mirror and their journalist Larissa Nolan on their compassionate campaign against the cruel snaring of badgers.

In successive editions of the paper last October and November, the Mirror gave prominent coverage to the cruel plans of the Department of Agriculture.

The Department is currently busy snaring and killing one third of the badger population as part of their dubious TB Eradication Scheme.

Despite the fact that there is no proven link between badgers and the spread of the disease, over 80,000 badgers are facing execution.

We also applaud the tireless campaigning of Bernie Barrett of Badgerwatch who has been fighting on behalf of persecuted badgers for many years.

Action Item:

Write to the Council of Europe urging them to take action to prevent the Irish Government from slaughtering tens of thousands of badgers.

Direct your correspondence to: Eladio Fernandez-Galiano, Convention of the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Council of Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France. Tel: 00 33 3 88 41 20 00. Fax: 00 33 3 88 41 37 51. Email:

A badger lies dead in a snare set by the Department of Agriculture. Photo © Peter Akokan

Badger Watch Appeal

Ireland is to eradicate 30 per cent of its badger population for an unproven role in the spread of bovine TB, writes Bernie Barrett.

Seventy five killers have been employed by the Irish Government to carry out this mindless slaughter. The method of capture will be a barbaric wire snare which holds the helpless badger in excruciating pain until it is dispatched by gunshot, provided the animal has not agonisingly strangled itself beforehand.

Serious welfare problems arise when nursing females are snared and shot leaving their cubs to die alone underground from starvation.

An online petition has been set up at to help the campaign to reverse a decision made without reasons or foundation.

I urge readers and their friends to log onto this petition and sign it to help protect this beautiful and much maligned Irish mammal. Each and every signature counts.

For more information on Badger Watch, contact Bernie Barrett at 5 Tyrone Avenue, Lismore Lawn, Waterford. Tel: 051-373876. Email:

Badger charge dismissed over incorrect date

An accusation of badger baiting against an Englishman living in Cork was dismissed after a District Court Judge said that the incorrect date was specified in the charges.

Judge Michael Patwell dismissed the charge against Colin Bowie of Glennorth, Banteer, Co Cork at Kanturk District Court in May. Mr Bowie said in a statement that he had been hunting on September 24th and not October 1st as specified in the charges brought under the Control of Horses Act.

The court heard that Gardaí accompanied a Cork SPCA inspector to Mr Bowie’s residence after a complaint was received about the treatment of animals. On October 1st last they found 22 dogs in kennels behind the cottage. The inspector described the condition of a Fell terrier who had lost half of its lower jaw as among the worst he had seen in 32 years as an inspector.

He told the court that it was "perfectly obvious" that the dog had been "worked" with badgers because of the damage evident on its jaw.

In a statement to the inspector, the defendant claimed that he was out hunting when his terrier had gone into what he presumed was a fox den.

Badger Facts!

Did you know that badgers have a sweet tooth and love jam and chocolate!

When they can’t get treats like that, they like to snack on rodents, rabbits, frogs, insects, earthworms, fruit, berries and nuts.

Did you know that badgers have been a protected species in Ireland since 1976? Someone please tell the Department of Agriculture.

Unhappy Campers
Forest park tourists upset by trespassing foxhunters

Tourists at a Limerick forest park were left shocked and upset following an early morning trespass by a foxhunt.

Families staying at the Curragh Chase Forest Park’s camping and caravan park last August say around 10 hunters with 60 hounds chased through the woodland and caused a huge disturbance.

Many of the campers were in the area to attend an upcoming dog show and they told a reporter from the Limerick Leader how the sudden appearance of killer hounds greatly distressed their dogs.

One visitor from the UK outlined how he heard the disturbance while sitting down to breakfast.

"I nearly lost my life when this crowd with their hunting dogs came through," he said. "I’m sure there are foxes in the forest and they were hunting them with their dogs."

ICABS understands that Coillte, the owners of the forest, are investigating the incident.

A Coillte spokesperson was reported as saying that when the hunt arrived, a park supervisor rushed out and ordered them to immediately get out. She added that the hunt will be contacted and told that they are prohibited from coming into the park again.

This hunt is the second to cause a disturbance to park visitors. Coillte previously barred a mounted hunt from the area after receiving complaints from members of the public.

Located at Kilcornan, Co Limerick, the Curragh Chase camping park is described as being "an amenity within the ambience of a Coillte Forest park". It is surrounded by forest walks and a 1.5km nature trail for visitors to enjoy. One of the facilities on offer is an outdoor play area for children which, it is believed, the hunt came close to.

While this particular hunt did not have permission to enter Coillte property, there are three foxhunts around the country which do.

The Galway Blazers hold a permit to enter 30 square miles of forestry in Galway. ICABS has recently learned that two hunts in Wicklow - the Bray Hunt and the Shillelagh Hunt - also hold similar permits.

Coillte say their policy in relation to fox hunting is that it neither encourages nor permits hunting on its lands except where traditional hunting rights already exist. They also state that no new licences for fox hunting on its property are issued.

Important habitat: Coillte’s forests are home to numerous creatures including foxes, badgers, squirrels and hares.

Coursing Club has questions to answer over missing hares

ICABS has learned, under the Freedom of Information Act, that the Nenagh Coursing Club did not have the required amount of hares for coursing, as laid down by the Irish Coursing Club’s own rules.

At the outset of coursing on November 14th last, the Conservation Ranger’s report noted 73 hares, while 68 courses took place, in clear breach of the ICC’s rule that one hare is required for each course plus a surplus of 10.

Of course, we are only too glad that the coursers were short of hares - the less they capture and abuse, the better, as far as we are concerned. We merely make the point to once again highlight the fact that they continue to break their own flimsy rules, and apparently get away with it.

However, on a more serious note, and one which needs answers, the Conservation Ranger, who attended the Nenagh meeting, reported that out of the 73 hares at the beginning of coursing, 57 were released into the wild.

He reported that one hare was killed and one put down as a result of injuries, leaving a total of 14 hares unaccounted for.

Also, in answer to the question "were hares coursed more than once?", the Ranger stated "Unknown on Day 1".

ICABS has written to the Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, seeking clarification on the issue of the missing hares, the flouting of ICC rules and the ranger’s comment on the re-coursing of hares.

Meanwhile, Dungannon coursing club in Northern Ireland held a coursing meeting on November 2nd last, with only nine hares. That is according to an official response to a Parliamentary Question from Colin Pickthall MP to the Secretary of State.

It was also stated that of the ten hares netted from the wild by the club, one was killed by a cat in the holding paddock prior to the event. Of the remaining nine that were coursed, one died as a result of a collision with a fence post in the escape area.

Coursing is a sport: County Council claim

Waterford County Council is promoting fox hunting and hare coursing on its website.

Information on local blood sports activities are listed in the "County Sports" section of the site.

Please contact Waterford County Council and demand that they remove all references to activities involving animal cruelty from their website. Point out that foxhunting and live hare coursing are not sports.

Write to: Tom Walsh, Waterford County Development Board, The Courthouse, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Tel: 058-20897. Fax: 058-42911. Email:

Ominous letter from hunt to landowner

A landowner who complained to the Gardaí about members of a local hunt trespassing on his land received an ominous letter from a hunt spokesperson.

In a copy of the letter supplied to ICABS, a member of the hunt stated: "It was incorrect of you to stop members of the hunt on the public road and even more so to be instrumental in having members of the Gardaí visit their homes. Repetition of such behaviour will not be accepted."

The letter also claimed that members of the hunt could go where they like, saying that "despite our best efforts to avoid your property, it may not always be possible to do so."

"We have no control over the path or route the fox or hare may take. In such instances we must follow the hunt to retrieve our hounds."

Jeremy Irons is a joint master

Actor Jeremy Irons is the joint master of a hunt in West Cork, it has been revealed.

In an interview with the Irish Mirror, Irons who owns a castle in the county said: "I love hunting and sailing. I am the joint master of the local hunt. I ride in the winter and sail in the summer and it’s just marvellous."

Ward Union deer is hounded to death

A deer hounded by the Ward Union Deerhunt died when recaptured at the end of a hunt last season. That’s according to a Department of Agriculture report recently obtained by ICABS.

Following a post mortem, it was found that the deer had died from a ruptured aneurism. The report concluded that it was "most likely that the physiological stress of hunting led to the rupture".

In reply to a parliamentary question put down in the Dáil by Deputy Tony Gregory, the Minister for Agriculture confirmed that the deer had died.

Defining the term aneurism, the Minister explained that it was something that could occur due to "exercise", an incredible euphemism for what the Ward Union subject deer to.

"Aneurism is a dilation of a blood vessel following weakening of its walls," the Minister stated. "The result is a pulsating sac, which is liable to rupture at any time although it may remain intact and be discovered only after death."

"The condition is not detectable prior to hunting. Aneurism may result from a congenital weakness of the blood vessel or from disease of its lining cells. When an aneurism is present there is potential for it to rupture either spontaneously or during or after exercise."

This is the latest recorded incident of a deer dying as a result of the Ward Union’s sick "sport". In a similar report, carried out by the same Department Veterinary Inspector five years ago, it was revealed that a deer "accidentally choked" while being captured.

Lameness in deer following hunts has also been noted in Department of Agriculture reports over the last five years.

Veterinary inspectors now monitor just a tiny percentage of hunts, just 1 hunt out of a total of 22 last season. This is in stark contrast to previous seasons when the Department of Agriculture monitored 25 hunts. Of course, that was at a time when the controversy surrounding the hunt reached a peak.

Most of the information used to complete the latest report was therefore based on records supplied by the Ward Union themselves.

We would seriously question any data supplied to the Department by the Ward Union who have lied in the past about their activities. In the Sunday Tribune of January 1997 the hunt admitted that a deer was running wild in the countryside in Co. Meath and not captured and returned to the kennels as previously stated to the media.

Action Item:

Write to the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, calling for the abolition of carted deer hunting which results in terror, stress, injury and death to stags and hinds. Department of Agriculture, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-607 2892 or LoCall 1890-200 150. Fax: 01-661 1013. Email:

Subjecting Ward Union deer to stressful situations like this can lead to fatal aneurisms, a Department report stated. Photo © ICABS

Foxhunts play no role in fox control
Scientific study dispels claims by hunting groups

Hunters claim that they play a vital role in keeping fox numbers down. If hunting was banned, they say, the countryside would be overrun with foxes.

A scientific investigation into these claims, however, has concluded that a ban on foxhunting would not lead to a fox population explosion.

The UK Mammal Society’s "British hunting ban had no effect on fox numbers" report is based on studies carried out during the temporary year-long ban on hunting due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001.

This period, the authors of the report say, "provided a unique opportunity to quantify the impact of hunting on fox numbers".

This quantifying was carried out by comparing fox numbers prior to the ban with fox numbers immediately after the ban ended.

And the results show that hunting with hounds plays no role in controlling fox populations. Fox populations regulate their own numbers, with or without the interference of hunters.

Mammal Society chairman, Professor Stephen Harris, commented: "This is the first scientific study into the impact of hunting on fox numbers and it shows quite clearly that hunting plays no role in regulating numbers."

The report dispels claims by pro-hunt organisations in the UK that there was a substantial increase in foxes during the ban. Though widely reported in the media, these claims were not supported by any quantified data.

The findings of the report also show that there would be no need to increase other forms of fox culling in the event of a permanent ban on hunting in England and Wales.

The report has been welcomed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. A spokesperson said: "We have shown repeatedly that hunting with dogs is not only cruel but unnecessary. The Government should fulfill its promise and ban it."

If you wish to receive a copy of the Mammal Society’s detailed report, please get in touch with ICABS now and we will email or post one out to you.

Death of brave Duchas ranger

ICABS was saddened to learn of the untimely death on August 27th 2002 of Dúchas ranger, James Greene.

Mr Greene, Conservation Ranger for Offaly South, was instrumental in securing a conviction against badger baiters in 2001.

As reported in the last edition of Animal Watch, Mr Greene bravely approached the men after seeing them walking away from a badger sett with a spade and a shotgun.

He gave evidence at Roscrea District Court that the men also had terriers, one of which was bleeding from a gash on its head.

In paying tribute to the ranger, Badger Watch Ireland said: "When it came to wildlife protection and conservation, two words come to mind in describing James - dedicated and diligent."

ICABS extends its sincere sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Greene.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Hotel promotes hunt holidays

A County Limerick hotel is promoting foxhunting holidays on its website.

The Dunraven Arms site features a photo of a waiter serving a drink to a mounted huntsman and presents information on hunting in the area.

"The Dunraven Arms, often referred to as the foxhunting centre of Ireland is a superb location for your hunting holiday," it says.

The tradition of hunting priests

Dick Power charts the clergy’s involvement in blood sports, from the satanic beginnings right up to the modern ritual of hunt blessings...

"Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase began," wrote poet Alexander Pope.

Nimrod, the hunter named in the bible, was King of Babylon. He was, of course, a satanist and is regarded by Scripture scholars as the prototype of the Antichrist.

From Fr Aloysius Roche’s book "These Animals of Ours" we know that all the early synods and councils of the Church imposed severe penalties on clerics who took part in blood sports.

Historian Henry Hallam explained: "It was impossible to repress the eagerness with which the clergy, especially after the barbarians were tempted by the rich bishopries to take upon themselves the sacred functions, rushed into these amusements. Prohibitions of councils, however frequently repeated, had little effect."

What St Francis de Sales denounced as a "hellish pleasure" got a mighty boost in 1521 with the election of Pope Leo X.

"God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it," he exclaimed to his brother.

According to historians, Leo brought in a religion that had nothing of Christ but the name.

Remembered as the "clown prince of the pagan renaissance" he kept 16 horses and 70 hounds.

Near Rome was the game reserve where all except Leo and his cardinals were forbidden to hunt. Trespassers had their hands and feet cut off, their homes burned and their children sold as slaves.

When St Pius V condemned the bullfight as a "cruel and wicked show suitable to demons rather than to men", he was putting hard words, not only on the bullfight but on Leo X for whose entertainment bulls were fought in the Piazza of St Peter’s itself.

The French Revolution set alarm bells ringing in London and Dublin. It was deemed inadvisable to have Irishmen going to the continent to be trained for the priesthood. And so the seminary in Maynooth was built. The British were instrumental in this and in return, staff and students took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown.

Horses of good quality were provided on which deans and professors keenly rode to hounds. The British had the right of veto in the appointment of professors and the rights of consultation in the appointment of bishops.

Foxhunting, the most sophisticated breach of venery ever devised, is defined as a "legacy from those 18th century English squires who found in the fox, a then rather scarce animal, a more adventurous quarry than the hare."

Foxhunting was introduced to Ireland by whom historian Lecky called "the class of middlemen and squireens who kept miserable packs of half-starved hounds."

Foxes in their thousands were imported to the neighbouring island, and in lesser numbers to this island to provide for the hedonists what a former chairman of the British Master of Foxhounds Association called "damn good fun".

When all Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, "Castle Catholics" was the contemptuous description used for Catholics who sought to ingratiate themselves with His Majesty.

Since the founding of Maynooth, the "Castle Catholic" mentality has been dominant. The castle in question being, of course, Dublin Castle, which was then the official residence of the Viceroy.

About 30 years ago, Professor of Theology, Joseph Ratzinger, wrote: "Paganism has been growing uninterruptedly for hundreds of years in the very heart of the church and threatens to destroy her from within...she is no longer, as she once was, the Church of pagans become Christians, but the Church of pagans who call themselves Christians."

One priest who performed the strange ritual of hunt blessing - "enough to make the demons dance and the angels cry in dissonance", as a poet once wrote - candidly admitted that he did so to avoid giving offence to those who asked him. He thinks those who oppose blood sports are "off the wall".

One is reminded of that line in Hughes’ History of the Catholic Church - "...and if the dirt were removed, could the wall still stand?"

That fear paralyses many clerics today and will continue to do so until the victory promised by Our Lady of Fatima.

But foxes are vermin, the hunters plead. St Augustine insists that there is no sanity in those who make such pleas and he writes: "To the wicked, the vermin and the viper are displeasing. Cruelty to animals is satanic."

Cat mutilated by wire snare

Meet Madge, the cat who survived an agonising encounter with a wire snare. Her injuries were so severe that the local vet suggested she be put down.

But the cat’s owner - Monica from Tipperary - was determined to get Madge back on her feet again.

"My vet said she was obviously in the snare a long time," she recalls. "The mark of the snare went the whole way around her body and it took 90 stitches (the most my vet ever put in a cat) and a lot of tender loving care from both myself and the vet to make her better. And she is still not 100 per cent."

"Snaring is so cruel and must be stopped," she added. "A lot of pet cats have disappeared around here. Madge was probably just one of the lucky ones to make her way out of the snare alive."

If you spot a snare in the countryside, use a wire cutters to cut the loop. This will prevent domestic animals or wild animals from getting caught and suffering.

Snare survivor: Brave Madge after receiving 90 stitches.

Hunters on the fairway

The appearance of a hunt at a Dublin golf course resulted in a hare running for its life down a fairway.

According to an article in the Irish Field newspaper last March, the Fingal Harriers "hunted down the 11th fairway of Skerries Golf Course". Golfers out for a quiet afternoon of golf apparently had to give way to hounds as they chased their quarry.

Members of the hunt (who hunt not only hares but also foxes and deer) reportedly got off their horses and chased after the hounds. Helping them was local golf professional, Jimmy Kinsella, who "quickly came to the rescue with an electric caddy car ready for the chase".

The article went on to say that two hunters carrying whips pursued the hounds and eventually retrieved them. The fate of the hare was not revealed.

ICABS has brought this incident to the attention of Skerries Golf Course management and urged them to take action to stop future entries by hunters.

Cake sale fundraiser

Many thanks to Patricia in County Wicklow for organising a cake sale fundraiser in aid of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports.

The sale of the scrumptious cakes succeeded in raising 125 Euro for the campaign.

Thanks also to everyone who supported the fundraiser.

Foxhunting PRO resigns

It has been reported in the hunter’s journal, The Irish Field, that James Norton, public relations officer for the Irish Masters of Foxhounds has resigned for "personal reasons".

Norton was quoted as saying (somewhat cryptically) that "it is my belief that there is not unanimity on certain important international policy matters on which I have strong and unequivocal views...Following the London march [Countryside Alliance March in September], I was confronted with a situation which caused me to reflect on my position again."

The report also noted that media relations was the main theme of the afternoon session of their AGM held last October.

The hunters, like the politicians, need to know how to "spin" for survival, but no amount of spinning will change the ugly reality of their activities.

Anti-bullfighting news
Crime pays for bull abusers in Portugal

Matadors in the Portuguese village of Barrancos are celebrating after being rewarded for breaking the law. New government legislation has decriminalised their blood sport and confirmed to animal abusers that crime certainly does pay.

When Portuguese President and bullfighting fan, Jorge Sampaio visited Barrancos in early 2002, he declared that the law should be changed to take into account that bullfighting is a "tradition".

His reasoning was obviously that if the locals were insistent on not obeying the law, it wasn't right that they should continue to be viewed as criminals.

And so, on July 12th last, the new law was passed with 116 votes in favour and 92 against.

This piece of legislation now makes it legal for matadors in Barrancos to kill bulls in the arena. Up until now, the Spanish-style bullfights had officially been illegal although numerous villages had been getting away with holding them for decades.

The situation now is that any village who had been breaking the bullfighting law for 50 years or more can continue what they've been doing but without any future risk of prosecution. In effect, the criminals have been rewarded for their efforts.

ICABS, who wrote letters of appeal to the Portuguese Government, is astounded at this bizarre development. Campaigners in Portugal are describing it as "a backward step of 80 years for animal welfare". Please join us in calling for this outrageous law to be repealed.

Action Item

Please contact the Portuguese Government to express your disgust and demand that this new law be repealed.

Jorge Sampaio, President of Portugal, Palácio de Belém, Praca Afonso Albuquerque, 1300-004 Lisboa, Portugal. Fax: (00351) 213614 611. Email:

Dr Durao Barroso, Prime Minister, Presidencia do Conselho de Ministros, Rua da Imprensa a Estrela, 2 ,1200-684 Lisboa, Portugal. Fax: (00351) 213951 616. Email:

Portuguese President and bullfight fan, Jorge Sampaio.

Mayor Mario says "no" to bullfighters

The mayor of Italian city, Sanguinetto, announced last April that bullfighting would not be allowed to take place during his city's annual bull festival.

In a statement to local newspaper L'Arena di Verona, Mayor Mattioli Mario stated that he made the decision after being overwhelmed by a mountain of letters and emails of protest from all over the world.

Matadors from Spain had attended the 2001 festival and came up with the proposal to hold a so-called bullfight without blood this year. But the mayor obviously agreed with the thousands of protesters who pointed out that with or without blood, bullfighting invariably involves cruelty.

Internet petition

An online petition against bull abuse is aiming to convince European Commission President, Romano Prodi, to listen to the majority of EU citizens.

The petition can be found at

Petition creator, Sandra Wijnveldt, commented: "The majority is strongly against animal torturing for entertainment but the EU still allows it to take place because Spain, France and Portugal claim these activities are 'traditions'."

"We demand that the politicians for once listen to the majority of the people," she said.

Eircom apologises for bullfight advert
Blood sport advertisement withdrawn after complaints

Eircom has apologised for a newspaper advert which displayed a matador waving a red cape in front of a bleeding bull.

The half page advert which appeared in the Irish Independent and Irish Times prior to Ireland's World Cup game against Spain was the subject of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

Along with our nationwide team of letter writers, ICABS contacted the company and criticised them for associating Ireland, Irish soccer and the green jersey with an activity that causes immense suffering to animals.

"In using this theme of a matador (the Irish team) being pitted against Spain (the bull), Eircom has turned a blind eye to the cruelty of one of the world's most barbaric blood sports," we pointed out in a letter to Eircom's Chief Executive, Philip Nolan.

"Thousands of bulls are slowly tortured and killed in Spain's bullrings every year - this type of activity has nothing whatsoever to do with real sports like football and it is regrettable that Eircom chose to connect the two."

Responding to the complaints, Mr Nolan's Executive Assistant, Alwyin Mannion said: "I would like to apologise for any offence that was caused and assure you that none was intended."

"The imagery contained in this advertisement was initially chosen because it was seen as an unique reference point for Spanish culture.

"The ad was run in the context of the Republic of Ireland team's achievement in qualifying from the Group matches in the World Cup and the second round match against Spain."

"It was certainly not Eircom's intention to cause offence with this material and once we were aware that some offence was taken, the advertisement was withdrawn immediately and the company apologised. As a result it was only used once."

According to ASAI Assistant Chief Executive, Larry McCarthy, the concerns about the advert were brought to the attention of Eircom's advertising agency.

"We have been given to understand that this advertisement will not be repeated," he said.

Thank you and well done to all the ICABS letter writers who took the time to contact Eircom about this advert. If you ever see or hear any form of advertising which makes positive reference to blood sports, please let us know.

The controversial advert in which a matador, with an Eircom football jersey superimposed onto his back, taunts a bull.

ICABS Letter writing group

If you would like to join the ICABS letter writing group and receive appeals every 4-6 weeks, please get in touch with us. You can receive our letter writing appeals by either email or post. Join now and help make a difference!

Minister warned about hunt danger on roads

ICABS has written to the Minister for Transport, Seamus Brennan, and the National Road Safety Council to draw attention to the danger posed to motorists by hunters.

We argued that allowing hunts onto roads was in conflict with current road safety campaigns.

Our presentation to the Minister and the Road Safety Council included a report from a Dúchas Conservation Ranger who monitored the Ward Union Deer hunt on March 5th, 2002.

The ranger outlined that "the stag took off in the direction of Dunshaughlin where it crossed the main N3".

A Department of Agriculture official monitoring the Ward Union during the 1997-98 season also referred to the hazards associated with hunts on roads. In his report, he stated that the "deer were at risk of injury when crossing roads."

They think they own the roads: A common complaint from motorists in Meath who have to tolerate the Ward Union. Image © ICABS

But it is not only the unfortunate deer that are at risk of injury and death. So too are the motorists who might encounter a deer as it dashes across their path.

We told Minister Brennan about the numerous accounts we have heard from members of the public about other Ward Union deer which, in their obviously disorientated state, have crossed main roads in a desperate bid to evade the hounds and mounted followers.

ICABS has first hand experience of the danger posed by the Ward Union to motorists. While out following the hunt in 1999, we were driving along a narrow country lane when a deer suddenly came rushing towards us. We had to brake hard to avoid crashing into the animal.

We also forwarded to the Minister and the Safety Council a copy of a newspaper article regarding a road traffic accident caused by a similar deer hunt in Northern Ireland.

Such incidents demonstrate the clear and present danger which this kind of activity poses to road users.

At the time of going to press, The National Road Safety Council has advised ICABS in a letter that they will be requesting the Ward Union to take "all appropriate precautions [to] prevent incursions by (deer/stags, dogs and the hunt party) onto the public highway during hunting" and that they are passing our correspondence to the local road safety officer for County Meath for his consideration.

Meanwhile, incredibly, Minister Seamus Brennan’s office has advised us in a letter that "the Department of Transport has no role in local traffic management matters of this nature". However, they have forwarded our letter to the County Manager of Meath County Council.

A frustrated motorist applies some horsepower to get past a mounted hunter on a main road. Image © ICABS

Tourist body promoting foxhunting

Tourism Ireland has been urged by ICABS to remove all references to foxhunting from its website.

We were shocked to learn that the website of the "official tourism marketing body for Ireland" is littered with references to the blood sport.

A browse through the equestrian section of the website revealed that foxhunting is widely being promoted as an attraction for visitors to Ireland.

One equestrian centre in the midlands is described as "specialising in foxhunting" while another is said to be "at the heart of our great Limerick hunt country".

Tourism Ireland is headed by 12 representatives of Bord Failte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. One of its primary roles is to promote Ireland as a destination "in all markets outside the island of Ireland".

Please join us in appealing to Tourism Ireland to immediately stop promoting foxhunting. Contact: Tourism Ireland, Bishops Square, Redmonds Hill, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-4763400. The address of their website is:

Cruel fire bull event is banned

Protest letters and emails from around the world have helped to ban a cruel event in Santarem, Portugal.

The horrific "bulls of fire" event, involving tying balls of hemp, soaked in resin and wax, to the horns of bulls and setting them alight, has been banned by local Portuguese authorities because it was proven that the animals were being mistreated.

"Once again, we have the proof that protesting works... never forget that our letters can always make a difference for animals," said Maria Lopes, Co-ordinator of the International Movement Against Bullfights.

So get writing on our various Action Items because you too can make a difference!

ICABS website praised by mag

The ICABS website was listed as a Top Ten Website in the February 2003 issue of PC Live magazine.

Our popular site has recorded nearly 11,000 visits since its launch in 1999. Visit it today at

Boycott "Hable Con Ella" film

ICABS is calling for a boycott of the Spanish film Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her).

This is one release which certainly won't be claiming that "no animals were harmed during the making of this film".

Director Pedro Almodovar used six live bulls for the bullfight scenes, all of which were horribly tortured and killed.

Please express your disgust at this cruelty by refusing to rent or purchase this film on video or DVD. Also, email a complaint to the producer at this address:

Wicklow Tourism respond to appeal

Wicklow Tourism has responded positively to an ICABS appeal in February 2003 for a reference to foxhunting to be removed from their website.

According to a promotion on the site: "In County will find riding centres that cater for all [with] hunting and Polo for the sporting type".

A spokesperson said: "The word 'hunting' has been deleted from the Wicklow website."

Tally Ho!
By Frank Murphy

A motley bunch
Of out of sorts
With horse and hound
To pass for sport

Made entertainment
Of an ill
Called it the least
Cruel way to kill

And didn’t realise
The choice
Was just another
Kind of vice

Is that an argument
That’s sound!
The morals here have
Gone to ground

ICABS make presentation in Strasbourg

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports made a presentation on blood sports to the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.

The presentation was made in July 2002 at the intergroup’s headquarters in Strasbourg.

Among the issues raised were the pressure which hare coursing is placing on Ireland’s hare population, the threat posed to otters by mink hunters and the hounding of captive bred deer by the Ward Union Deerhunt.

ICABS was invited to make the presentation by Green MEP, Nuala Ahern.

Foxhunt cheque presented by bank manager

A Bank of Ireland manager presented a cheque from the Roscommon Hunt to a local charity last July.

Michael Curley, manager of the Roscommon branch of the Bank of Ireland handed over the cheque which was raised at the local hunt ball.

When ICABS brought this to the attention of Bank of Ireland Head Office in Dublin, CEO, Mike Soden commented: "The bank or its management do not have any legitimate right to prevent staff from engaging in or associating with an activity that remains legal in Ireland."

Anti-hunting group formed in Donegal

A new anti-hunting group has been set up in County Donegal.

Called "Donegal Anti Fox Hunting (Horse & Hound)", the group is currently campaigning for an end to foxhunting in the county.

Members of the group meet every fortnight in Letterkenny and are keen to hear from people who are interested in getting involved.

For more information or if you could help in any way please telephone Donegal Anti Fox Hunting on 086-8935265 or 074-51076. Email:

Natural Beauty

A red fox, photographed in the midlands, shows off its stunning coat and brush. If you have a wildlife photo you would like included in Animal Watch, please send it in! Photo © Peter Akokan

Telephone firm ignores appeal

Telephone service provider, Phonovation, has ignored an ICABS appeal to scrap a coursing results service.

The 1550 "Coursing Draws on the Line" number carries results of coursing meetings from around the country.

In our letters to the company’s Managing Director, we expressed our disappointment that "Phonovation, a company with links to some of Ireland’s top businesses, has chosen to associate itself with the blood sport of hare coursing."

Among the services provided by Phonovation are 1550 premium rate telephone competitions.


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

Editorial Team: Philip Kiernan and Aideen Yourell. Contributors: Philip Kiernan, Aideen Yourell, Bernie Barrett, Dick Power, Peter Akokan, Frank Murphy. 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. The views expressed in Animal Watch are not necessarily those of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. When finished with this newsletter, please pass it on to a friend.

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