Views of former TDs, Senators and Councillors

A collection of quotes from formers TDs, Senators and Councillors. To read quotes from current politicians, visit our Political Views page.

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Views of former TDs

Bertie Ahern, TD and former Taoiseach (FF, Dublin Central):
"I am totally opposed to hare coursing and I hope that...many more people reject hare coursing as a past-time, which can never justifiably be called a sport." (1997).

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

Bobby Aylward, TD (FF, Carlow Kilkenny):
"The stag hunting doesn't affect me and I'm not going to fight a cause in Kilkenny that's an issue in Meath and North Dublin." Bobby Aylward quoted in the Sunday Business Post, 04 April 2010

Andrew Boylan, TD (FG):
"In County Cavan one sees ordinary people going out on foot every Sunday with their little terriers or hounds. They may chase a hare up to the highest hilltop, watch the hunt, listen to the hounds and see the hare scooting off as happy as Larry." (During the Wildlife Bill debate in Dail Eireann in April 2000).

Dan Boyle, TD (Green, Cork South Central):
"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."

Johnny Brady, TD (FF, Meath West):
"Many people are highly concerned about this Bill and are fearful for the many other rural pursuits that are practised and engaged in. This legislation is being perceived as an attack that will lead to a ban on all field sports. The organisations opposed to the Bill represent more than 300,000 people involved in country pursuits. Rural field sports are family-orientated activities that are not ageist, sexist or racist. Generations of Irish people have taken part in such healthy, outdoor and family activities. Rural sports are an important economic activity in many rural communities and provide important support to the farming and bloodstock industry. As a rural Deputy, I represent an area in which there are two hunt clubs on my doorstep, namely, the Ballymacad Hunt and the Meath Hunt. I know exactly how important both these hunts are to the local community. They have major support across a broad area. Foxhunting nationally is a major contributor to the economy in the absence of any State support...I am not happy, despite the assertion of the Minister, Deputy Gormley, that the legislation will not have any implications for other country pursuits such as fox hunting, hare hunting, hare coursing, shooting, fishing, greyhound racing or deer stalking. I consider the Bill to be an assault on rural Ireland and its traditions...I know enough about fox hunting and the Ballymacad Hunt and the Meath Hunt. I follow them whenever I am at home, especially around Christmas time. I get great enjoyment from them...I say to the Minister, Deputy Gormley, to the Taoiseach and other members of the Government, that if any of the other country pursuits such as fox hunting, hare hunting, hare coursing, shooting, fishing, greyhound racing and others are threatened, they cannot depend on my support whether this Dail lasts two months or two years. They will not have my support if anything else is tinkered with." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, Thursday, 24 June 2010

"I support fox hunting, greyhound racing, coursing, fishing, shooting, and so on." Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. 25th May 2010

James Breen, TD (Ind, Clare):
"As a farmer, I allow people to hunt and shoot on my land." (Speaking as a member of the Joint Committee on the Constitution, during a meeting on 22 July 2003. To read the full text of the meeting, including presentations from representatives of hunting groups, please

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

Ben Briscoe, TD (FF):
"All through my political life covering over thirty years I have been consistently against and spoken out against blood sports so you can take it that I will continue to do whatever I can to abolish blood sports."

Ulick Burke, TD (FG, Galway East):
"FF back bencher Noel Treacy made good his support for fieldsports, as did East Galway FG TD Ulick Burke." (From a report in the Irish Horse section of the Irish Famers Journal, 26 January 2008 about a hunt meeting in Galway) Ray Butler, TD (Fine Gael, Meath West):
In March 2013, Ray Butler voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban on some of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals - foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling, fur farming and the use of animals in circus performances.

"I have been involved in greyhound racing all my life, it is in my blood. I have trained, raced and bred greyhounds. The greyhound industry employs 10,500 people, part-time and full-time. That is why the Government provides significant funding because the industry is both a significant employer and revenue stream for the Government. In some areas greyhound racing is like the GAA club because local people have their coursing dogs and greyhounds...With regard to the drugs situation, most owners and breeders say the fines do not fit the crime and the system used on the track and at coursing meetings will have to change." Ray Butler, Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Indecon Report: Bord na gCon, 21 October 2014.

“An all-male syndicate of 14 Government politicians has invested in a greyhound bitch and Swift Starlet has already notched up five wins for them in her short career. Ministers Michael Noonan and Phil Hogan are among the group which was put together by Meath West TD, Ray Butler from Trim. Greyhounds are in my blood,” Butler told us this week after he returned from ‘A Show of Passion’ in London. The Government backbencher was part of a 120 strong delegation from the Irish greyhound industry joining colleagues from the British greyhound industry in a demonstration against the proposed demolition of Wimbledon greyhound stadium as part of a redevelopment plan. Irish developer Paschal Taggart, who has put together a consortium proposing a development which would retain the stadium, was also at the event. Deputy Butler says ‘A Show of Passion’ was not a protest, but an expression of thanks to London mayor, Boris Johnson, who says he supports the local residents’ campaign to save the last remaining dog track in London. Wimbledon track, by the way, is owned by Nama. Ray delivered a letter to the mayor from a cross-party group of Irish parliamentarians and it was accepted at City Hall by deputy mayor, Sir Edward Lister. “In the letter, I extended an invitation to Boris to come over and see the success story that is Shelbourne Park” says Ray. “And if he came over, I’d also show him the Book of Kells, John’s Castle in Trim and bring him into to the Dáil.” (Irish Times, Feb 22, 2014)

Thomas Byrne, TD (FF, Meath East):
"Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne said he opposed a ban on stag hunting since it affected his constituents in Meath East."

"This legislation [to ban the Ward Union hunt] is not right and the Oireachtas should not be targeting individual organisations or groups. I welcome the provision that the Minister is including in the legislation that regularises licensing for shooting game and wildlife. That may give some reassurance to the gun clubs although many of the constituents I spoke to on it today were not convinced." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, Thursday, 24 June 2010

Michael Collins, TD (FF, Limerick West):
"I wish to declare my keen interest not only in horse and greyhound racing, but also in coursing...Now that the Irish greyhound industry has been assured funding, I ask the Minister to ensure that an equitable amount of this annual subvention be directed towards the arm of the industry which, since the start of the last century, has regulated all aspects of greyhound sports, racing and coursing, until the advent of Bord na gCon in 1958. The services provided by the Irish Coursing Club, based in Clonmel, are vital to the ongoing success of the Irish greyhound industry. It provides a role and function in compiling the stud book for the entire island of Ireland...For reasons which I have difficulty comprehending, it receives no subsidy or benefit from moneys collected from betting revenues within the industry nor from annual Government subventions to the industry. The legislation governing the Irish greyhound industry clearly defines the role, functions and responsibilities of the Irish Coursing Club in the development of the greyhound industry. It is now time that some meaningful funding be set aside to enable this voluntary organisation to go about its business." (May 2001).

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

Seymour Crawford, TD (FG, Cavan-Monaghan):
"My neighbours are deeply involved in both hunting and shooting, and some of them in other hunt clubs. Those people, if they are in a hunt club, contact the people in the area in which they will hunt. They do not do it behind people’s backs. They are welcome. Especially on my own farm, they are extremely welcome wherever they want to go, let it be hunting, shooting or whatever else. While the Minister is saying today that it is only the Ward hunt club that he is interested in, they are in no doubt whatsoever, from the information they are getting from the websites and elsewhere in the Green Party, that this is the first shot at all of the different aspects of Irish culture and Irish life. When I think of all the joy that those people have got down through the years in all sorts of areas of hunting, shooting, etc., I am scared for the future of this country...The Ward Union Hunt has a proud tradition. During the debate on this issue, I became annoyed by the efforts of some to claim the Ward Union Hunt is an old British club that has nothing to do with Ireland. It has a long association with Irish traditions, as Deputy Byrne stated...The Minister states hunting is dangerous to people and hard on the animals. From reports I have read, there are very different views on this. As the Minister’s Fianna Fail colleagues have said, further study needs to be done on it and a report needs to be produced before a hammer is used to crack a nut...I attended two meetings organised by the hunting and shooting fraternity. I can tell the Minister that those meetings were packed. One of them was in the Westenra Arms Hotel in Monaghan town, the other was in the Lavey Inn in Cavan. These meetings were packed with people who had only an interest in a bit of sport...I know people in the Enniskillen hunt, which goes into the Clones area. Members of one of the families involved are my best friends and invite me to the hunt regularly. It is nothing but sport." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy Crawford voted AGAINST the Bill.

John Cregan, TD (FF, Limerick West ):
"The hare coursing season began last weekend and Limerick West Fianna Fail TD John Cregan is urging the Environment Minister to give clubs around the country the official go-ahead to practise the sport...Hare coursing, which is thoroughly humane, is particularly popular in West Limerick." (From a press release issued by Deputy John Cregan on 5th September 2007)

Ciarán Cuffe, TD (Green, Dun Laoghaire):
"I am against all forms of blood sports."

Alan Dukes, TD (FG):
"Kildare South TD, Alan Dukes, angered farmers when he called on the government to prevent delays to the start of the 2001/02 foxhunting season. Coming amid ongoing fears over the spread of foot and mouth disease, the appeal was criticised by farmers who fear foxhunters could ruin their livelihoods by spreading disease. Alan Dukes reportedly put pressure on the Agriculture Minister, Joe Walsh, to meet with foxhunting groups to arrange a re-start to the hunting season. An article in the Farmers' Journal criticised the Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on Agriculture for his efforts to get hunts up and running again."

Olwyn Enright, TD (FG, Laoighis-Offaly):
Speaking on RTE's Questions and Answers on 20th September 2004, Olwyn Enright said she would not want to see foxhunting banned. "I haven't considered it in any great detail but I wouldn't be in support of a ban of it at this point," she said. "I do think that eventually people will have to look at other ways - drag hunting and things like that - but I think that would be a very, very slow process. But it is something I would ask the hunt organisation to look into."

Chris Flood, TD (FF, Dublin South West):
"I am personally opposed to all forms of blood sports and would like to see an end to them...I will continue to work toward this objective."

Beverley Flynn, TD (Independent, Mayo):
According to a report in the Sunday Times (November 18th, 2007), Deputy Flynn wrote to Minister John Gormley to put forward the case for refusing a licence to the Ward Union deerhunt. "I have been approached by a number of constituents who have expressed concern over the possibility of your issuing a [hunting] licence," she stated in her correspondence.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty, TD (Green Party, Dublin Mid West):
"Hare coursing involves cruelty to both hares and dogs and this has to stop," he stated. "I am not anti-greyhound racing, but an industry that knowingly engages in animal cruelty for profit is not one that should be allowed operate in such a fashion." During a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, 8th June 2006.

"If asked, the majority of people in Ireland wish to have stag hunting banned. The majority of people, including those living in rural areas, also wish to have hare coursing banned...the maths and the clout do not add up for the Green Party to ban hare coursing although we have expressed our desire to get rid of hare coursing.

As for the issue of jobs and the influence of the Ward Union Hunt this issue does not pertain to jobs. It is about the boys on top of the horses not being willing to drag hunt. They are not willing to lay down a scent for the hounds to follow as they can do everything else with the arrangement of the farmers. However, they want to cause wanton cruelty and to engender dread in the stag. There is no other reason for it because they can do everything else. They can dress up in their finery; they can lord it over every field and can pee off some of the farmers who do not wish them to go across their land. However, they do not wish to do this if they are dragging a scent. They want to have the fun implicit in scaring the bejasus out of a dumb animal. I say that they, and not the stags, are the dumb animals in this instance." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010

"I support section 1. The Bill is correctly entitled the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill because it amends existing legislation to ensure the right of particular domesticated animals to enjoy a stress-free existence. I wholeheartedly support the legislation." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Committee and Remaining Stages, 29 June 2010 - Deputy Gogarty voted in favour of the ban on staghunting.

"Greyhounds must compete on merit and should not race after taking painkillers or other drugs to boost performance. Much concern has been expressed about the health and safety of the greyhounds but only a handful of Deputies have referred to the health and safety of hares. Deputy Gregory referred to the continuing practice of blooding and cruelty to dogs. Greyhounds are treated as commodities and put down once they have outlived their usefulness. The same applies to hares. Even in the regulated system where dogs wear muzzles, hares are held for up to six weeks and may be killed by stress or mauling during coursing meets.

"I have nothing against the greyhound industry per se. I acknowledge that a night at the dogs could be an enjoyable event but not at the expense of unnecessary cruelty and mistreatment of animals. Studies have shown that drag coursing provides a similar training for dogs without cruelty to hares.

"Notwithstanding the manner in which dogs are treated, a societal issue must be addressed. Many Deputies and well-heeled members of society enjoy going to the dogs and buying dogs. I am sure they would not condone the use of animals as commodities or cruelty to animals but this happens in the greyhound industry. Surveys show that 75% of people living in the countryside and 90% of those in cities oppose hare coursing, a considerable amount. The sport has blood on its hands and is under a cloud, irrespective of the contents of the Dalton report. An industry based on cruelty and exploitation should not be allowed to continue as it is." During a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, 8th June 2006.

John Gormley, TD (Green Party, Dublin South East):
The Green Party's 2011 election manifesto states that, as part of the next government, the party will "introduce legislation to ban hare coursing" and "make the hunting of animals with hounds an offence under law". Download the manifesto (pdf) to see their other animal welfare pledges.

"I am pleased to introduce the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 and I look forward to an informed debate during its passage through the House. As the House is aware, the renewed programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce legislation to prohibit the practice of deer hunting with a pack of dogs. This short Bill provides for the banning of this particular hunting practice. In addition, I have taken the opportunity to increase the maximum fines for wildlife-related offences, which were last increased in 2000.

I would like to put on the record of the House the fact that the decision to prohibit the hunting of deer with a pack of hounds was not taken lightly. Section 26(1) of the 1976 Act provides that I, as Minister, may grant to the master or other person in charge of a pack of stag hounds a licence authorising the hunting of deer by that pack during such period or periods as is or are specified in the licence. However, the Act does not provide criteria for awarding or refusing a licence.

As Deputies are aware, there is only one stag hound pack in the State, which operates in County Meath. When I became Minister in June 2007, I had concerns from an animal welfare and a public safety point of view relating to the operation of the hunt meetings operated by the hunt club in question. These concerns were shared by some of my predecessors...

It is not acceptable to allow a hunt with hounds and horses of what is essentially a farm animal. We do not consider it acceptable to set dogs in pursuit of any other farmed animal. Furthermore, there are public safety issues, as it is simply not possible for the hunt to prevent deer in flight from leaping through hedges onto public roads. I recall an incident last December during one of their hunt meetings when a deer had to be put down after it had leapt onto a road and collided with a car. I find this incident totally unacceptable even though I understand that fortunately on that occasion there were no injuries to the occupants of the car...

If the Deputy has a domesticated animal at home and if a number of people came to him and said they wanted to hunt that animal down with hounds and people on horseback, I believe he would be rightly outraged, even if they said they would give the animal back to him in one piece. That animal would be running for its life, and the deer in Meath is running for its life. That is unacceptable and uncivilised." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010.

"I continue to believe that this particular hunting practice should cease for animal welfare and public safety reasons. I believe a large proportion of the public consider such activity is no longer acceptable. The Deputy may recall an incident a few years ago when a deer pursued by a pack of hounds entered a school yard during the school day. I find an incident like this totally intolerable. Since then, there have been other public safety incidents involving deer in flight leaping through hedges onto public roads. Therefore, I recently obtained Government approval to the drafting of legislation to prohibit the hunting of deer by a pack of stag hounds." (From Adjournment Debate, Hunting Licences, 2 December 2009. For more details, see Hunt ban legislation will be published "as soon as possible" )

"Deer shooting makes sense. It’s a cycle of nature...If animals are shot, eaten, part of the cycle, then to me that’s a Green philosophy." from the Winter 2010 edition of Country Sports and Country Life magazine. Read more

Tony Gregory, TD (Independent, Dublin Central), 1947-2009, RIP:
"Live hare coursing - a medieval and cruel practice - is still legal and should be banned outright as has been done in more advanced countries. Even the most prominent owners and trainers are involved in doping. The dog that won the coursing greyhound of the year award, Boa Vista, is owned by Vinnie Jones and others. It also won the Irish Cup 2005-06, sponsored by J.P. McManus, receiving prize money of €80,000. It tested positive for a banned drug following that win but we still do not know what drug was involved. The Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare...This Bill is welcome if it can clean up one corrupt aspect of the greyhound industry. Regrettably, the industry is riddled with corrupt practices and a complete investigation into all aspects of the industry is needed. I refer in particular to the illegal, disgraceful practice of blooding greyhounds with live rabbits, hares and kittens. RTE ably exposed these practices some time ago." During a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, 8th June 2006.

"Self enforcement is as effective as the Garda Complaints Commission. It is totally ineffective. There is no monitoring or independent checks. The rules [in the foxhunters' so-called code of conduct] are meaningless."

Tony Gregory was the vice-president of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis. Please see our Tributes to Tony Gregory page.

Marian Harkin, TD (Independent, Sligo-Leitrim):
"It would appear logical to me that drag hunting should provide better enjoyment for horse riders. Since galloping and jumping would appear to be central to enjoying a day out, there is certainty of getting that every day with a drag. The also an advantage in going only where riders are welcome and would also avoid the damage caused to lands and fences which often occurs in a random hunt." (March, 2004). "I oppose live hare coursing and will support any measure which aims to restrict or eliminate it." (October 2003)

Mary Harney, TD (Indpendent, Dublin Mid West):
Deputy Harney voted in favour of Tony Gregory's 1993 anti-coursing bill

Brian Hayes, TD (Fine Gael, Dublin South West):
"Fine Gael has committed to reversing the ban on stag hunting. As a Party, we are not opposed to countryside sports..." (From an email to an ICABS supporter, February 2011)

Seamus Healy, TD (Independent, Tipperary South):
"This is a small but important industry, particularly in the area from where I come in south Tipperary in which the Clonmel track is located and which hosts the national coursing festival each year. The greyhound and coursing industries are important and give much employment and support to other industries and business in the town of Clonmel and much enjoyment and sport to the many people involved at all levels." During a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, 8th June 2006.

Jackie Healy-Rae, TD (Independent, Kerry South):
"A number of TDs, including Jackie Healy Rae and Michael Lowry, had earlier voiced concern that the Greens' ban on stag hunting and their dog breeding bill indicated a lack of empathy with country pursuits." (Sunday Business Post, 04 April 2010)

"Jackie Healy-Rae showed up on RTE's News at One...He denied he had told a Sunday newspaper: "Letting a pack of dogs loose after a deer and scaring it half to death isn't something I agree with." The newspaper's deputy editor rang in to say they have him saying it on tape." Sunday Tribune, July 4th, 2010

"Healy Rae perfected another U-turn. He said he was opposed to stag hunting last weekend. Yesterday, he was for it. Consistent in his inconsistency." Harry McGee, Irish Times Website, June 30, 2010.

Michael D Higgins, TD (Labour, Galway West):
"I must say it is absolutely outrageous to suggest that I and any Member of the Labour Party are in favour of cruelty to animals or bloodsports." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Note: With the exception of Deputy Higgins (absent on medical grounds) and Tommy Broughan (who absented himself from the vote), all the remaining Labour Party TDs voted AGAINST a ban on the cruel blood sport of staghunting.

Michael D Higgins is a former vice-chairperson of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports.

Maire Hoctor, TD (FF, Tipperary North):
"As a rural Deputy from North Tipperary, where the horse, hound and deer are synonymous with rural life, it was with regret that I learned last October that the ban on the 200 year tradition of the Ward Union Hunt in County Meath was part of the newly agreed programme for Government...I am fully aware of the high standards of animal welfare practice undertaken by the members of the Ward Union Hunt Club, some of whom are personal friends of mine." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy Hoctor voted in favour of the bill.

"I do not share the same views as the Council does on bloodsports, hare coursing etc. so I am not in a position to campaign with you on this." (Letter to ICABS, September 2003)

Fianna Fail TD Maire Hoctor claimed backbenchers had not been consulted about a ban on stag hunting contained in the programme for government, agreed between Fianna Fail and the Greens. Ms Hoctor said the "preference" of the Greens was to ban other forms of hunting. "That's not part of a programme for government I'm part of," she said. (The Irish Times, May 12, 2010)

"Deputy Hoctor concluded: 'The discussions are ongoing and it is my intention that hunting dogs and the needs of the Hunting Association of Ireland be adequately addressed in the upcoming legislation also.'"
Nenagh Guardian, 10th July 2010 -

Michael Kennedy, TD (FF, Dublin North):
"I believe [the Ward Union deer] expect to be hunted. I am not suggesting for one second that they should be mauled by hounds or anything like that. I would abhor that. I would have a greater problem with hare coursing where I believe greyhounds get very close to the unfortunate hare...I have no connection with the hunt or the people involved. However, I speak as someone with a love of animals. We have always kept dogs in the family home and currently we keep two beautiful cavaliers. I represent a vast number of constituents from Dublin North who are actively involved in the hunt and others not involved in the hunt but who support it." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy Kennedy voted in favour of the bill.

"If we didn't support you, we wouldn't be here." Quoted in the Irish Times of December 19, 2009, Deputy Kennedy made this comment at a Ward Union staghunt meeting in Trim Castle Hotel, December 2009

Tony Killeen, TD (Fianna Fail, Clare):
"The Government considers that this hunting practice [carted deer hunting] should cease for animal welfare and public safety reasons. A large proportion of the Irish public consider such activity is no longer acceptable. Last year, the Government approved the drafting of legislation to prohibit the hunting of deer by a pack of hounds...I want to make it clear that this legislation will not have any implications for other country pursuits such as fox-hunting, hare coursing or deer stalking." (Speaking as Minister of State with special responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries and the Marine during the Field Sport Regulation Adjournment Debate on 11 March 2010)

In 2002, a spokesperson for Tony Killeen stated: "Deputy Killeen has never attended a coursing meeting but he understands that muzzling of hares and other reforms which have been introduced have dramatically improved the situation." ICABS informed Deputy Killeen that muzzling has not dramatically improved the plight of hares and that they continue to suffer and die on coursing fields.

Dr Martin Mansergh, TD (Fianna Fail, Tipperary South):
The Irish Times of January 2nd, 2010 reported that Dr Mansergh is "in general...a supporter of field sports" but "not personally involved" unlike members of his "wider family". The report stated that he "rejected the notion claimed by some pro-hunting activists "that banning stag-hunting represented the 'thin edge of the wedge' which would lead to the outlawing of other rural pursuits such as fox-hunting or hare-coursing."

"As I have stated several times, I am generally supportive or tolerant of all existing field sports...It is wrong to believe that all people living in the country are uncritically supportive of field sports. A telephone or Internet poll in the Tipperary Star that I would not necessarily trust completely asked whether blood sports should be banned and received a two thirds response in favour...I reassure my constituents field sports will continue without interference and with no risk whatsoever, despite vastly exaggerated claims to the contrary. Stag hunting is simply not relevant to the broader interests of the equine industry, which is of great importance to this country." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy Mansergh voted in favour of the bill.

Peter Mathews (Independent/formerly Fine Gael, Dublin Rathdown) [RIP]:
In an April 2011 Dail Question, Peter Mathews TD asked the Minister for Agriculture "his plans to give approval to Bord na gCon to allow the Irish Greyhound Board to send Irish greyhounds to the People's Republic of China; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that China does not have a good track record regarding its treatment of animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter."

Padraic McCormack, TD (FG, Galway West):
In an email to an ICABS supporter, Deputy McCormack stated: "Fine Gael will oppose any change to existing licensing arrangements for stag hunting and will reverse any changes made by the present Government in that regard." (March 2010)

"Why does he not withdraw it [i.e. the bill that bans staghunting]?" Comment aimed at Minister John Gormley during the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 29 June 2010 - Deputy McCormack voted against the ban on staghunting.

Tom McEllistrim, TD (Fianna Fail, Kerry North Limerick West):
In a statement issued in September 2007, Tom McEllistrim, welcomed the licensing of hare coursing and described the blood sport as "thoroughly humane". Responding, ICABS stated: "Deputy McEllistrim clearly doesn't comprehend the meaning of the word humane." For more details, please see ICABS blasts "coursing is humane" claim

Shane McEntee, TD (Fine Gael, Meath East, RIP):
"Those who hunt are great people - I have listened to them...Fine Gael and the Labour Party do not want to have to reintroduce stag hunting when Fianna Fail and the Green Party leave Government, whether it is now or in two years' time. We do not want to have to spend time on that. However, we will bring it back in. That is guaranteed...I know all the people involved in the Ward Union Hunt and in other hunts. They are all farming-minded people, so to speak. As Deputy Michael Kennedy said, he was not a farming person but these people are all animal lovers. They would stay up at night to mind a calf that was born two months premature. They would get up ten times at night to make sure it lived. They would do it for any animal. They are not cruel people and I resent that insinuation from anybody." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy McEntee voted AGAINST the bill.

"I am calling on the Environment Minister, John Gormley to grant a licence to the Ward Union Hunt to hunt live stags...Any doubts about the future of the Ward Union Hunt should be removed. Meath would be a poorer place if the Ward Union Hunt was not allowed to hunt across its fields...hunting has a long and honourable tradition in County Meath" (From a statement headed "Hands off Hunting", issued by Shane McEntee in 2007. For more, please see Meath TD slammed for defending animal cruelty)

"The Ward Union is an iconic representation of rural life in Ireland...As a Deputy, I will oppose [a ban on the hunt]." (From Hunting Licences, Adjournment Debate, 2 December 2009).

"We will not be doing anything to ban hunting, coursing or other pursuits..." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011: Second Stage Thursday, 30 June 2011

In a February 2012 Irish Times report, Shane McEntee claimed that in coursing, "there is no danger to the hare" (Minister opposes ban on coursing and claims hares never in any danger, Irish Times, 2nd February, 2012).

In complete contast, Deputy McEntee claimed to ICABS representatives in March 2010 that he is "against animal cruelty".

Shane McEntee claims that there's "no danger to the hares" in coursing: Watch the Video

"Shane McEntee and Damien English promised unqualified support for the Ward Union and hunting in general from any incoming government led by Fine Gael." from the Hunting Association website, 2009.

Nicky McFadden, TD (Fine Gael, Longford Westmeath, RIP):
In February 2010, Cllr McFadden was criticised by ICABS for expressing support for foxhunters. During a Senate debate on proposed Puppy Farm legislation, she stated: "I am familiar with the South Westmeath hunt. There is no question but they are the kindest people to those dogs." Please read more at Westmeath Senators criticised for defending hunters and coursers

"My father used to race greyhounds and they were always retired to homes and they are the best pets...Any proposal involving Bord na gCon engaging with the greyhound industry in China would have to give due consideration to animal welfare matters. Ireland attaches a high priority to animal welfare and, alongside our EU partners, is working to promote better animal welfare internationally so I welcome the Minister of State’s introduction of this legislation." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011, 30th June 2011.

Brendan McGahon, TD (FG):
"My views are fairly well-known. I'm totally opposed to hare coursing. It's a barbaric game and fox-hunting is even worse. In my youth, I used to course and was sickened by it. It's a dreadfully cruel game in which timid little creatures are butchered by dogs often psyched up and blooded beforehand by unscrupulous people. The hares are torn apart, watched and cheered by a group of blood-thirsty people, very often including local clergy.

"I'm a bit cynical about the impact of muzzling. When these dogs are travelling at very high speed and slide in for the kill, they can fatally injure these fragile creatures."
(Sunday Independent, January 11th, 1998)

Marian McGennis, TD (FF):
"You may be assured of my continued opposition to blood sports in Ireland."

Liz McManus, TD (Labour, Wicklow):
"I support a ban on live hare coursing, carted deer hunting and a tightening up of regulations on fox hunting."

Arthur Morgan, TD (Louth, Sinn Fein):
"Carted deer hunting is an unnecessary cruelty which causes horrific suffering to defenceless red deer," Deputy Morgan stated. "This blood "sport" is not just an abomination for the animals involved - it can also pose a danger to members of the public, with terrified deer crashing through hedges, over walls and even across busy public roads to avoid being tortured. As a result the hunt has been condemned not only by animal welfare groups but also by farmers, landowners, motorists, parents and householders...The Irish Council Against Blood Sports are campaigning on this issue and they have my full support." (Arthur Morgan, TD urges "total ban" on Ward Union)

"And then there was Arthur Morgan. Like the Labour Party, Sinn Fein has done a complete U-turn on stag hunting. A motion was passed at the 2009 Ard Fheis calling for a ban on all blood sports. Then the hare coursing fraternity within the party got to work and managed to completely reverse the decision at this year’s Ard Fheis...Arthur Morgan has a very strong view on all this. He supports the ban on stag hunting passionately. He was in a bit of a quandary yesterday. He would have voted to support the Bill if there was a free vote or even if it looked like the Government had the numbers to easily pass. But if it was close and the Government looked like falling, he might have been persuaded to vote against, as a protest against all the other Government policies and decisions he opposed. The solution? He kicked up a racket yesterday afternoon and got chucked out of the Dail. It essentially solved the problem at a stroke." Harry McGee, Irish Times Website, June 30, 2010 -

Patrick Nulty, TD (Independent, Dublin West):
"I agree with the ban [on hare coursing] proposed." January 18, 2012 Read More
On October 18th 2012, Deputy Nulty joined protesters at an anti-bloodsports demonstration outside Dail Eireann - See Photo.

"Hare coursing is deliberately cruel and unnecessary. As Deputy O'Sullivan has outlined, issues of employment can be addressed in other ways through drag coursing. It sticks out like a sore thumb in this Bill that the opportunity to ban coursing is not being seized. I wonder why it is not being seized. I find it very ironic that in our vote on the previous amendment, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin all stood shoulder to shoulder. Not since before 1918 have the nationalist parties stood together so much to oppose progressive measures towards achieving animal rights. This is an opportunity for the Minister to redeem himself. I acknowledge the positive elements of this Bill but this is a huge anomaly and a huge failure of us seizing political responsibility for the environment in which we all live on this island and to ban hare coursing. It is a totally barbaric and unacceptable practice. It is totally unnecessary and it certainly does not represent the future of Irish economic and rural development. I think we should ban it outright today." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report Stage, 27 March 2013. Watch on Youtube

"Fur farming is on the decline, is unnecessary, deliberately cruel, wrong and profoundly unnecessary. There is no need or justification for it." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report Stage, 27 March 2013. Watch on Youtube

On 27th March 2013, Patrick Nulty supported amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to outlaw hare coursing, foxhunting, terrierwork, digging-out, ferreting and fur farming.

Darragh O'Brien, TD (Fianna Fail, Dublin North):
According to a report in the Sunday Times (November 18th, 2007), one of the few TDs who defended the Ward Union deerhunt was Darragh O'Brien, TD.

Charlie O'Connor, TD (FF, Dublin South West):
"I took careful note of your concerns regarding hare coursing and please be assured of my interest in the matter. I am pursuing this issue on your behalf and I will do all I can to help." July 2004.

Noel O'Flynn, TD (FF, Cork North Central):
"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."

Ned O'Keeffe, TD (FF, Cork East):
"Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Fianna Fail back-bench TD Ned O'Keeffe warned the Greens that any attempt to abolish 'rural pursuits' such as hare coursing 'by stealth' will be 'vigorously resisted'." (Sunday Independent, September 20 2009)

Mary O'Rourke, TD (Fianna Fail, Longford Westmeath):
"We have all been receiving e-mails from RISE, or Rural Ireland Says Enough. I am here today because I come from a part of Ireland which fishes, hunts and shoots. I came with a mandate from there and they want me to say today that they understand if we signed up to a document, but that they will not entertain - nor will I nor will Fianna Fail - any further inroads into rural pursuits...We will not entertain it and we will not have it. I want to know exactly what could possibly be wrong with fishing, hunting or with the gun clubs whose members have approached me. They go about their normal pursuits as well...the Minister will have to give a guarantee on the floor of the House that this Bill and the Bill to be taken next week - which he inherited from the former Minister, Deputy Dick Roche - will be the end of his ramblings in rural Ireland." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 29 June 2010 - Deputy O'Rourke voted in favour of the ban on staghunting.

Christy O'Sullivan, TD (Fianna Fail, Cork South-West):
According to a report in the Sunday Times (November 18th, 2007), one of the few TDs who defended the Ward Union deerhunt was Christy O'Sullivan, TD.

Peter Power, TD (Fianna Fail, Limerick City):
"I am pleased to confirm to you that I am very much against Animal Cruelty and Bloodsports and would be happy to support Legislation outlawing such cruelty." (From a letter sent to Animal Rights Action Network, February 17, 2011)

Peter Power, TD voted in favour of the staghunt ban in June 2010.

Sean Power, TD (Fianna Fail, Kildare South):
"The hunt has a long and distinguished record in Ireland and a proud tradition. Most villages have pictures of hunts going back over many years and there is something beautiful about watching a hunt in action. Man has always hunted. Today, that hunt takes on a different meaning but people appreciate that it has a proud historic record. This Bill has attracted much publicity. People who do not hunt or engage in rural activities have little understanding or appreciation of why others partake in the activity and the joy, fun and craic that people have on a hunt...The Ward Union Hunt Club has been operating for more than 150 years and is the only club with a stag hunt. It has approximately 200 active members. I know some of these people personally and I regard them as normal, natural people. In any group of 200 people one can select a few and try to tarnish them all with the same brush. The same could be said of the 166 Deputies. The members of the Ward Union Hunt Club are normal people who enjoy a particular activity. From my knowledge of them, they are animal lovers who take great pleasure in participating in a stag hunt...I regret the introduction of legislation to criminalise a long and proud tradition in Ireland." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Despite expressing support for the Ward Union, Deputy Power voted in favour of a ban on staghunting.

"I was a greyhound owner in the past and my family was involved down through the years in the industry. I like a night at the dogs. In recent years, the issue of clerical abuse has received a great deal of publicity. However, as a former altar boy, my experience of the church was much different. I was an altar boy to a priest who loved both horse and greyhound racing and I had the pleasure of travelling around the country to attend horse and greyhound race meetings and even the odd coursing meeting. I learned a great deal and my experience with this priest was joyous and educational. I am grateful for the education I received about greyhounds and horses." (Speaking as Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children during a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry [Doping Regulation] Bill 2006, 8th June 2006)

Dick Roche, TD (FF, Wicklow):
"Neither you or anybody else will ever find any support from me for fox hunting." (Speaking as Minister for the Environment, Deputy Roche made this statement on 8th April 2007 in response to an email from a member of the public)

Eamon Ryan, TD (Green Party, Dublin South):
"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.

"I also have a particular interest in improving animal welfare via a radical change in the industrial farming practices which I feel have the greatest detrimental effect on animal welfare in this country. Perhaps the two issues can be developed in tandem as a proper respect for our wild animals, and indeed the environment around us, might also lead to a greater respect for the animals which we use in our farming industry."

Trevor Sargent, TD (Green Party candidate, Dublin North):
"The Bill takes the live quarry out of the equation in a hunt but does not ban hunting. Drag hunts will continue and traditions, kennels, horsemanship and the fallen animal service do not require a stag to be part of the equation. This reality needs to be discussed.

I live in north County Dublin and I know many of the people who ride out with the WUH. However, the vast majority of those who raised this issue with me are opposed to the activity for a number of reasons, many of which relate to animal welfare. There is no getting away from that. The Irish Farmers’ Journal printed a report in 2007 of a deer choking to death. In 2005 a deer died having broken a rib leading to an aortic rupture. The stress endured by the animals must be acknowledged. A 300 kg stag aged five bolted through a hedge and was hit by a car last December and that gave us a salient warning. Thank God there were no human fatalities but the deer had to be put down.

These issues cannot be brushed under the carpet as if everything is a picnic and there is no animal welfare issue. We must not be blind to it. As a former Minister of State with responsibility for food and horticulture, I have met many people with an agricultural background who are not at all happy. Horticulturists find it difficult to make a living and they do not want horses and hounds traversing their land. I live near a farmer who has a field of turnips. The gate was left open by the hunt members. Generally they disregard the difficulties people face in trying to make ends meet and to maintain their livelihoods. We must have consideration for the wider community in this regard.

Condensing the issue down to wide open fields and rural communities does not tell the full story. I recounted an incident earlier to Deputy Kennedy of a stag appearing in a man’s garden while he worked in his house. Nobody was chasing it but it was distressed having escaped the hunt at least momentarily. A veterinarian was called and the stag had to be tranquilised. The tranquiliser did not take effect immediately and because this large animal was agitated, it took off again towards Rivervalley, a highly built up area in Swords. The tranquiliser only kicked in when the stag had made it 2.5 miles down the Brackenstown Road. When a stag is trying to escape, it will try to do anything. It will go into a school yard, the grounds of a church, a graveyard or a garden. It will do whatever it has to do to escape. That is the reality in the name of the WUH...Deputy Shatter held a much higher position in the Irish Council Against Blood Sports than I could ever aspire to but he has not contributed to this debate. Perhaps he has been silenced in more ways than one." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy Sargent voted in favour of the bill.

"The legislation [Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010] before us has a narrow focus as it deals with a specific activity. It in an anachronism in this day and age that the activity in question continues to take place. In addition to the animal welfare issue that arises, there is an inconsistency in terms of the use of a domesticated animal in this activity. While a stag has some wild tendencies, it is a domesticated animal and we would not tolerate the hunting of any other type of domesticated animal, for instance, a cow or pig. Stag hunting is an anachronism.

I accept that the public safety aspect of the Bill, a collision with a stag, is less likely to arise than a head-on collision with another car caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel. However, if a vehicle were to collide with a stag and someone were to be killed, would the Deputies Opposite remain quiet or would they ask which Minister licensed the activity and thereby allowed a tragedy to befall a family? Would they be sanguine about the Minister’s role in allowing this licensing activity to continue and failing to notice previous near misses, including, but not only, the incident in Kildalkey? In December, for example, a deer had to be put down having collided with a vehicle. Fortunately, the incident did not result in a human tragedy...There are many incidents that are near misses which never feature in the media. I do not want them to feature in the media because I do not want a fatality as a result of this anachronism in 2010." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Committee and Remaining Stages, 29 June 2010 - Deputy Sargent voted in favour of the ban on staghunting.

"I feel we have reached a point in our history where almost unanimous agreement has been reached in rejecting political violence and, to ensure that society develops respecting life in general, it is important I believe to reject violence in the name of 'sport' also. Foxhunting, however, does not need to be violent if it takes the form of a drag hunt which spares the fox from the torturous and exhausting chase with the possibility of horrific and slow death."

Joe Sherlock, TD (Labour, Cork East) (RIP):
"On the basis that hares are now muzzled and very few fatalities occur within the sport I feel that I would not be in a position to have my name added to [the list of TDs who support an end to coursing in Ireland]." (August 2003)

Noel Treacy, TD (FF, Galway East):
According to a report in the Sunday Times (November 18th, 2007), one of the few TDs who defended the Ward Union deerhunt was Noel Treacy, TD. The Galway SPCA criticised the TD for his stance and encouraged Galway people to lodge complaints.

At a pro-hunt meeting in January 2008, Deputy Treacy spoke in favour of hunting, suggesting that the biggest threat it faced was complacency. "When I was in charge of the Wildlife Service," he announced, "I got constant letters from ICABS to ban hunting and in all my time there only ever got one letter pro hunting." (Galway Independent - 23 January 2008)

Mary Wallace, TD (FF, Meath East):
Three Fianna Fail TDs told RTE yesterday they would obey their party when it voted against stag hunting but, according to Mary Wallace, it would be "with a heavy heart" because it was an attack on rural traditions and went far beyond stag hunting itself. Irish Times, March 1, 2010

"The ban on stag hunting will not only be detrimental to the local jobs and the local economy in Meath, but it also poses a threat to the wider economy. Why are the thousands of voices that oppose this ban being ignored? I cannot understand why that is. It is wrong to trample on people’s rural traditions...I question the use of animal welfare and public safety as a motivation for this legislation and have legitimate suspicions that the real agenda is a basic dislike of all forms of hunting and rural activities, which is informed by ideology rather than reality. The reality is so different, and I would love to see people experiencing the real hunt...The Bill is unnecessary and has a disproportionate effect on the economy of County Meath and the Ward Union Hunt. The Ward Union Hunt has maintained the highest animal welfare standards through its 200-year history...I am a lifelong supporter of the Ward Union Hunt." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, Thursday, 24 June 2010

Joe Walsh, TD, former Minister for Agriculture (FF, Cork South West):
"I am quite satisfied with our operation of fox hunting and other field activities here." (In response to an ICABS appeal for an inquiry into hunting with hounds. Irish Independent, August 2000.)

Mary White, TD (Green Party, Carlow/Kilkenny):
"I used to have a little pony called Lucky, when I had little yellow plaits. I used to follow the Bray Harriers when I was ten. Then I grew up. My father could not afford the pony — he used to rent them from Delahunt’s stables in County Wicklow — but my sister and I loved ponies. We loved the rural way of life. I live under the Blackstairs mountains in County Carlow. I am great friends with many members of the Carlow Farmers Hunt and I support them on many of their fund-raising activities. There are two sad aspects to this debate. One is the completely erroneous statements from RISE about the origins of the Green Party’s policy on this issue, the completely erroneous statements that the Greens know nothing about rural Ireland. I know a lot about rural Ireland. I was brought up in rural Ireland, I married somebody from rural Ireland and I live in rural Ireland. For many years, I used to shoot and fish to feed my family. I know what it is like to hook a salmon. I know what it is like to shoot a pheasant. However, the countryside has changed in Meath and in north County Dublin; it has become increasingly urbanised. Deputy McEntee knows this and he spoke very passionately and honestly and I respect that. However, he must also respect my views that the Green Party members are aware of how the countryside ticks. We do not all live in the middle of cities such as Cork, Dublin or Galway, where we have elected members. Some of us live and breathe the country air and know how the country works...I gave up shooting and fishing because the countryside has changed...

The stag is a farmed animal whose antlers have been cut off. When the stag is cornered with the hounds at bay, grown men jump on the stag, bring it to the ground and wrestle it back into the horsebox. Man is a sentient being with a higher mind than an animal. Is it right for him to take pleasure in this? That is what is at the heart of this Bill. The issue is not jobs or pleasure, but about man as a superior being having control over animals. This is the philosophical question." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy White voted in favour of the bill.

Views of former Senators

Senator Dan Boyle:
"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."

Senator Paul Bradford (Fine Gael):
"The Minister [Michael Finneran, Fianna Fail] does not propose to change his mind and does not respect or accept the bona fides of the Irish Coursing Club or greyhound industry." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010

"It is a given that rural organisations, including hunt and coursing clubs, cannot survive if they do not meet the highest standards of animal husbandry, hygiene and animal feeding propriety. They would not exist if they did not look after these matters with near perfection...If we see such traditions not just as historical but as important for the Ireland of today, we should help them to survive into the future. We should ensure hunting and coursing clubs and other rural organisations such as point-to-point associations remain part of the fabric of rural Ireland." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 10 February 2010

Senator Terry Brennan (Labour Party):
"I welcome the Bill and wish the Minister well in its completion in the not too distant future. The hunting groups and gun clubs will welcome it also. I look forward to its introduction in the near future." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012, 4th July 2012

Senator Ivor Callely (Fianna Fail):
"I enjoy participating in traditional rural pastimes. On occasion, I have also enjoyed the Ward Union Hunt." (Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 25 February 2010)

Senator John Crown (Independent):
"Well I dont want to hunt, but, if humans never existed, dogs would still kill foxes. If folks have nowt better to do than watch..their biz" from a 6th August 2011 tweet.

Senator Maurice Cummins (Fine Gael):
"Section 12 prohibits people from allowing animals to suffer unnecessarily, whether through direct physical abuse, recklessness or negligence. This section does not apply to activity occurring during the normal course of hunting, fishing or coursing. No decent person who is involved in coursing would have a problem with the provisions specifying that the cruelty provisions may apply if an animal is hunted after being released in an exhausted, mutilated or injured condition or if a hare is coursed without reasonable chance of escape. Some people may enjoy such practices but 99% of coursing clubs would welcome this provision." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012: Second Stage, Seanad Eireann, 3rd May 2012.

Senator Mark Dearey (Green Party, Louth):
"You can continue to enjoy the essence of the pastime on the basis of a drag hunt where the scent is dragged, rather than releasing a wild animal - but they turn their noses up at that...The other option is the release of the deer and its recapture before the hunt - the scent remains, but it doesn't lead to the animal being cornered, and in some cases killed. It's an exercise in terrorising the poor animal." Sunday Business Post, 04 April 2010

Senator Camillus Glynn (Fianna Fail):
"The association [Hunting Association of Ireland] runs a fine show and if it were otherwise, I would say so and would not apologise to anyone for so doing...I refer to the Irish Coursing Club. I come from Killucan, a famous area for greyhound owners and breeders and coursing. Was there consultation with the club and the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation? From what I know of them, these associations run a very tight ship and their views would be valuable." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Second Stage, 26 January 2010. See ICABS response: Westmeath Senators criticised for defending hunters and coursers

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames (Independent - formerly Fine Gael):
"Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames said that if the Green Party continues to 'run riot over rural pursuits' it will not just be politicians who lose the whip, jockeys will as well." from a RTE News report on the Green Party's Bill to ban cruel stag hunting. 30 June 2010.

Senator Mary Henry (Independent):
"You can be sure of my support. I have spoken [against hare coursing] before and will write to Minister Dick Roche about it." (June 2005)

Senator Jim Higgins (FG):
"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."

Senator Rory Kiely (FF):
"I recall the previous outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1967. All sporting fixtures were abandoned. I kept greyhounds at the time and was a keen coursing enthusiast." (February 2001)

Senator Marie Moloney (Labour Party):
"While I am not a hunting person, nor do I claim to be, there are many who are and who were worried about the validity of their hunting licences. At least they can continue to hunt." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012, 4th July 2012

Senator Mary Moran (Labour Party):
"I can assure you I do not support blood sports and am happy to have my name included in the list to ban such cruel sports." from an email to ICABS, July 2015.

Senator Niall O'Brolchain (Green Party, Galway West):
"I would personally be very anti-bloodsports...I don't really see the need for it. [Coursing] is an example of animal cruelty and it does need to be stopped...The Green Party would be anti-bloodsports...It is very likely that there will be a much bigger clampdown next year and that would be what I hope will happen." (Speaking as a Green Party councillor, Galway independent, 12 September 2007)

Senator Susan O'Keeffe (Labour Party):
" I am not somebody who shoots, I am not a member of a gun club and I have never engaged in that activity, but I understand its importance in our traditions...If we encourage and support hunting we must do it in an appropriate way...Children who understand and appreciate the countryside can uphold the hunting laws in an appropriate way, as Senator Quinn noted, unlike other European countries where literally everything that moves is shot at. That is not the case in Ireland. If we are to have our hunting tradition, I hope and support that we would do it in an sustainable and appropriate manner. I welcome this amending legislation to ensure that those hunters who take part in hunting do so in a legal fashion." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012, 4th July 2012

Senator Labhras O Murchu (Fianna Fail):
"It would be very difficult for us to argue against coursing in rural Ireland. On the other hand, certain measures have been taken to ensure the cruelty is removed from the sport...I must admit I had a ferret at home when I was young. I used to go out hunting for rabbits with the ferret and with a net. If I caught a rabbit, I sold it or else we had it at home. Perhaps I saw that as part of survival." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012, 4th July 2012

Senator Pat O'Neill (Fine Gael):
In October 2015, Senator Pat O'Neill attended the AGM of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) whose members are responsible for the shooting of tens of thousands of foxes, deer, birds and other creatures every year.

"Will the Minister clarify whether wild animals are included in the definition of what constitutes an animal under this section? I refer, for example, to wild birds and fish. The Bill may be in conflict with certain aspects of the Wildlife Act on which hunters rely to validate their sports activities." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage, 22 May 2012.

Senator Ann Ormonde (Fianna Fail):
"As a very young girl I saw how well run coursing was and how the integrity of the industry was protected at all times." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010

Senator Averil Power (Independent):
Senator Averil Power has condemned hare coursing as a "cruel pursuit" and called for a ban on the activity. During a Senate debate on Animal Health and Welfare Bill on 20 June 2012, Senator Power stated: "While I welcome the improvements in animal welfare provided for in the Bill I am disappointed that the Government decided against banning live hare coursing. As the Minister is aware, the practice has been banned in most other countries, including the UK and Northern Ireland, and it is my strong personal view that it is a cruel pursuit. Other countries have managed to create a sport out of drag coursing without inflicting pain and cruelty on animals.

Senator Feargal Quinn (Independent):
"I declared my interest on Second Stage in that I was a member of the Ward Union Hunt 20 years ago and I have received requests from its members to make a case on their behalf." (Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 10 February 2010)

"I must declare an interest. For many years I hunted with the Fingal Harriers and the Ward Union Hunt. In Britain, the ban on hunting shows the clear division between city and country. I would hate to see this happen in this country." (Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009, 03 February 2010)

Senator John Whelan (Labour Party):
In August 2012, John Whelan condemned stag hunting as a "relic of our colonial past" and said it's "best to leave it where it is…consigned to history!!". He made the comment in response to a article outlining how hunters are seeking the return of the banned Ward Union staghunt. "Stag hunting does not have its roots or traditions in rural Ireland but is a throw-back to Mad King George and our colonial past," Senator Whelan stated. "It is not pursued, desired or missed by country people or rural Ireland but an elitist and cruel pursuit previously practised in one part of County Meath."

"Stag hunting has no basis in rural Irish tradition; cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen to be representative of rural Ireland or the traditional lifestyle and activities enjoyed and cherished in rural Ireland," he added. "There is NO commitment by this Government to overturn the Ward Union Hunt ban and I for one would vigorously oppose any attempt to have stag hunting re-introduced to this country."

"Iceland resumes disputed fin whale hunt (via @thejournal_ie) - bad form - EU should intervene and apply some pressure" Senator John Whelan in a 17th June 2013 tweet.

Senator Mary White (Fianna Fail, Dublin South East):
In 2012, Senator Mary White told the Irish Council Against Blood Sports that she is "strongly opposed to the cruelty and mistreatment of animals" and that she and her party will "do our best to address the issue". Senator White was responding to correspondence from ICABS in which we highlighted the cruelty of bloodsports, including digging out and terrierwork. We presented photos showing horrendous injuries sustained by Irish foxes when terriers are sent below ground to attack them. "I find the images provided disturbing and detest the vulgar activities you mentioned in the letter which go on out of public view in the secluded countryside," Senator White stated. "I feel this is an important issue and every politician and lover of animals has a responsibility to raise awareness among the public."

Views of former Councillors

Cllr Willie Crowley (Independent, Kildare County Council)
RIP. Willie Crowley passed away on 18th December 2015.
"I am opposed to [hare coursing and fox hunting] and have campaigned accordingly to ban these." from a text message to ICABS, November 2014.

Cllr Richard Humphreys (Labour, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council)
"I am in favour of stronger legislation on animal cruelty, including prohibiting foxhunting and hare coursing." from an email to ICABS, April 2014. In November 2014, he voted against a council motion which described urban foxes as a "problem" and which called for action to be taken to deal with them.

Cllr Pat Kavanagh (Independent, Wicklow County Council)
RIP. Pat Kavanagh passed away on 16th December 2015
Pat Kavanagh is a "a Local Community, Environmental and Animal Welfare Campaigner". She is currently a Wicklow Town Councillor and will be running as a candidate for Wicklow County Council.
"I am COMPLETELY opposed to blood sports - cruel, barbaric, inhuman" - Cllr Pat Kavanagh, 22nd March 2014.

"I have a huge interest in Animal Welfare - I challenged the Council cull of 63 horses in Ballyguile and will continue to seek out a no-cull solution to the equine crisis in Ireland. I have been a member and supporter of 'Chance', Wicklow Dog Pound Lobby & Rescue group since its inception. I was responsible for bringing in the Wicklow Town ban on circuses which use wild animals from performing or advertising on public lands. I am a member of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports -" - from a statement by Cllr Kavanagh on

"You can be assured that you have my full support." Cllr Pat Kavanagh, Wicklow Town Councillor, January 2013

In 2011, as the then Deputy Co-Ordinator of the Fis Nua political party, Cllr Pat Kavanagh succeeded in getting the following motion passed at a party convention: "We denounce all forms of animal cruelty and terrorisation, and hunting animals for sport." Cllr Kealin Ireland (Green Party)
"I fully endorse your aims and wish you every luck." September 2004

Cllr Bronwen Maher (Green Party, Dublin City Council)
Signed anti-bloodsports petition. September 2004

Cllr Tom Acheson (Fine Gael, South Tipperary County Council - Clonmel)
"Not in favour of a ban [on hare coursing and fox hunting]." from a text message to ICABS, December 2014.

Cllr Seamus O'Boyle (People Before Profit, Sligo County Council) (RIP, 11th August 2015)
"Yes I am against foxhunting and all bloodsports." from a text message to ICABS, December 2014.

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