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Dublin Bay South By-Election candidates and animal cruelty issues
6 June 2021

The views of Dublin Bay South By-Election candidates in relation to animal cruelty issues. Please read before casting your vote!

Senator Ivana Bacik (Labour Party)

In September 2020, Senator Ivana Bacik stated: “I do strongly agree with your stance against hare coursing.” Responding to correspondence from ICABS in which we asked her to join us in urging Minister Darragh O’Brien to refuse a coursing licence, Senator Bacik commented: “I am very happy to support this.”

Senator Bacik was thanked for voting against the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2020 which granted another €96 million of taxpayers’ money to horse and greyhound racing for 2021, i.e. €76.8 for horse racing and €19.2 million for greyhound racing. (November 2020)

“I am asking you to refuse a licence to the Ward Union deer hunt,” Senator Bacik stated in a letter to Environment Minister, John Gormley. “The Irish Council Against Blood Sports are mounting a campaign against this, which I support.” (October 2007).

ICABS has thanked Senator Ivana Bacik for refusing to vote against a ban on the Ward Union. The Irish Times has reported that the Labour Party senator abstained in a Seanad vote on the Wildlife Amendment Bill. 01 July 2010.

Senator Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein) 

In November 2020, Senator Boylan was thanked for voting against the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2020 which granted another €96 million of taxpayers’ money to horse and greyhound racing for 2021, i.e. €76.8 for horse racing and €19.2 million for greyhound racing. 

“I will address the matter of animal welfare, especially in the greyhound sector. I speak in opposition to the increase in funding of €2.4 million to the greyhound industry, which brings to €19.2 million the amount of public funds they will receive. I understand the importance of the greyhound sector to the local economy, and in particular for rural jobs, and there are members here today who rightly speak about that. It cannot be denied, however, that the attendance levels at greyhound race meetings have dropped by 55% since 2008. I am no expert but any industry that is faced with this type of decline in interest surely has to stop and ask what is going on and why are people turning off from what it has to offer. I am no fan of greyhound racing. Personally it is not my bag. I do not like rugby either but at least rugby players get a choice in the matter of participating. I know a lot of people who love greyhound racing and I know many people who have attended racetracks as part of their work outings and social gatherings. One thing that continues to come up as to why those types of social gatherings are becoming less popular in workplaces and for communion, confirmation and birthday parties is that people are being turned off by the issues of animal welfare…It is ridiculous that we give public money to an industry that deliberately overbreeds and then praises itself for using the same public money to address the consequences of the overbreeding. It is completely inappropriate that thousands of greyhounds are bred every year only to be then sent to shelters for rehoming, including transporting them across the Atlantic to the US, and what that might do for carbon footprints.” Senator Lynn Boylan during a debate on the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2020, Seanad, 25 November 2020.

In April 2021, Senator Lynn Boylan condemned Greyhound Racing Ireland’s targeting of children by advertising Holy Communion greyhound racing parties on its website. Speaking during a Seanad debate on the Future of Gambling Regulation (23 April 2021), Senator Boylan commented: “I would encourage the Minister to go on Greyhound Racing Ireland’s website and, while it says it is paused, dog tracks are still continuing to offer communion and confirmation parties to families with at-table betting. For as little as 35 euro per table, you can bring your family along for their communion. And it was only as recent as 2019, when the gaming and lotteries legislation was passed, that the child as young as the ones who are making their communion were able to actually participate in that tote betting.” The statement was made as part of a speech in which she described Ireland as “the Wild West of gambling” and noted that “problem gambling is a huge problem” which successive governments have “done nothing to reign in”. Watch the full speech at

In November 2020, Senator Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture to confirm that nobody involved in a Greyhound Racing Ireland-funded care centre has “exported [greyhounds] to countries that do not have adequate welfare standards”. “Can the Minister outline what checks and balances have been put in place regarding those who run that greyhound care centre,” Senator Boylan asked during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture on 24 November. “Can you give a firm commitment to this Committee that nobody who is involved in the running of that greyhound care centre has exported greyhounds to destinations that breach [Greyhound Racing Ireland’s] own code of conduct which is that greyhounds should not be exported to countries that do not have adequate welfare standards. And if it was to come to light that anybody who is involved in running that care centre, has been involved in the export of greyhounds to countries that do not comply with the greyhound code of conduct, will that person be removed and will that tender be taken away from that person?”. In December 2020, she described as “wholly unsatisfactory” a response from the Agriculture Minister to a Dail Question which asked if there is a requirement for those operating a Greyhound Racing Ireland greyhound care centre in Tipperary “to be in compliance with the Greyhound Racing Ireland code of conduct including the code pertaining to the exportation of greyhounds only to destinations that provide the expected levels of care”.

“Looking forward to hearing from Dogs Trust at today’s Agri Committee about how we can make the online sale of pet regulations fit for purpose. Currently there are way too many illegal dog adverts on online platforms.” Tweet from Senator Lynn Boylan, 1 June 2021.

“During the debate on gambling regulations, I condemned the advertising of greyhound racing parties for Holy Communions which Greyhound Racing Ireland offers on its website. Children should not associate sport/gaming with gambling” Tweet from Senator Lynn Boylan, April 24 2021.

In October 2014, Lynn Boylan MEP voted in favour of a European Parliament Budget Amendment which sought to end massive subsidies to barbaric bullfighting. Despite the support of 323 MEPs, the amendment was rejected because it didn’t secure a qualified majority.

In 2017, Lynn Boylan MEP was thanked for voting in favour of a resolution seeking to end the cruel caging of millions of rabbits across Europe – a practice shown to cause “extreme suffering”. The “Minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits” resolution, presented by German MEP Stefan Eck, was passed with majority support in the European Parliament.

Cllr Deirdre Conroy (Fianna Fail, Dublin City Council)

“I would never attend a greyhound race. I adore dogs.” Email to ICABS, July 2019.

“Don’t cull our puppies…quite right that Barry’s Tea and FBD Insurance withdraw sponsorship of greyhound races after ‘recent revelations’.” – Tweet from Cllr Conroy, July 4, 2019.

Sarah Durcan (Social Democrats)

“I am against blood sports, including hare coursing, and am very pro-animal rights.” She is also in favour of an end to government funding to cruel greyhound racing.

Cllr James Geoghegan (Fine Gael, Dublin City Council)

A barrister and member of Dublin City Council. He is a former member of the Renua Party and worked as a parliamentary assistant to then Fine Gael/Renua pro-hunting TD Lucinda Creighton.  

In January 2021, Cllr James Geoghegan was among a group of 13 Dublin City Councillors who voted in favour of an unsuccessful amendment to a motion. The amendment which Cllr Geoghegan supported stated: "That Dublin City Council recognises the important social, cultural and economic place of greyhound racing in Irish society..." It was defeated when 39  other councillors voted against it.

Cllr Geoghegan has not responded to an enquiry about where he stands on cruel foxhunting or hare coursing.

A 10 May 2021 UK Times newspaper article headed "Fine Gael by-election candidate lobbied for Big Tobacco" stated: "The likely Fine Gael candidate at the Dublin Bay South by-election worked as a tobacco lobbyist before qualifying as a barrister. James Geoghegan served clients including the firm behind Marlboro cigarettes while working for Transatlantic Public Affairs between 2009 and 2013. He was their government affairs manager, managing a “small team of researchers producing high-level European Union political reports on a variety of issues. His clients included Philip Morris, the Swiss American corporation that produces Benson and Hedges and Marlboro cigarettes...”

Brigid Purcell (People Before Profit) 

"I believe the treatment of animals in Ireland is disgraceful. I fully support Paul Murphy's Animal Health and Welfare (ban on hare coursing) 2020 bill [expected back before the Dail later this year]. I completely stand by People Before Profit’s animal welfare policies."

People Before Profit’s animal welfare policies include: Introduce a complete ban on the hunting of wild mammals with hounds, Introduce a complete ban on coursing live hares, Ban fur farming and ban the sale of fur within Ireland, End badger culling by traps, snares and shooting and Increase financial support for animal welfare charities –

Other candidates

Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party)
Cllr Mannix Flynn (Independent)
Dolores Cahill (Independent)
Mairéad Tóibín (Aontú)
Peter Dooley (Independent)
John Keigher (Independent)
Colm O’Keeffe (Independent)
Justin Barrett (The National Party)
Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua)

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