General Election 2016 - Where do the candidates stand on animal cruelty issues?

'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated' - Mahatma Gandhi
'Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation' - Martin Luther King

Before voting in the general election on Friday 26th February, read our guide to the candidates and where they stand on animal cruelty issues. Please make your vote count for the animals.

Individual candidate views may differ from official party policies, to which members are expected to follow in Dail Eireann. Click on the link to view party policies in relation to animal issues. Help us expand this list - let us know about responses you receive from candidates. If you are a candidate and wish to be included in this list, please get in touch with us now.


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Bobby Aylward, TD (Fianna Fail, Carlow Kilkenny)
As a TD in June 2010, Bobby Aylward voted in favour of the ban on carted deer hunting, but only apparently because it didn't affect his local constituents - “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.)

"Carlow-Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward said his support could not be relied on when it comes to votes in the Dáil on issues such as animal welfare, the Planning Bill or a ban on corporate donations. “If it means there is going to be a break-up of the Coalition so be it. At this stage I am not going to be coerced into voting for another party’s agenda,” said Mr Aylward. He said that, as a representative of a rural area, he would be looking carefully at issues such as the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill and the proposed ban on stag hunting to see how they affected his constituents." Irish Times, March 29th, 2010.

Patrick Deering, TD (Fine Gael, Carlow Kilkenny):
Patrick Deering's director of elections in the 2011 General Election was Phil Meaney - "a member of the executive committee of the Irish Coursing Club and a member of the finance committee of the Irish Coursing Club" (Source Department of Agriculture website, 2011). Mr Meaney was subsequently appointed to the position of chairman of Bord na gCon. According to the Irish Independent of May 1st 2011, "The Government was in one hell of a hurry to appoint Mr Meaney to the top Bord na gCon job. [Agriculture Minister Simon] Coveney even admitted to having been politically lobbied, but insisted that was not a factor...Fine Gael Carlow TD, Pat Deering, conceded that he had lobbied on behalf of Mr Meaney."

Cllr David Fitzgerald (Fine Gael, Kilkenny County Council)
Kilkenny Borough Councillor David Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) voiced his opinion on the matter. “I will disagree with my party colleagues,” he said. “In my reading of this, it is the use of ‘wild’ animals – not dogs and ponies – and I believe that it is unsatisfactory and not helpful in this day and age. This is not an attack on circuses; it is specifically about the use of wild animals and I would not like to see the return of wild tigers, lions or elephants.” from “Circus debate was intense, but motion was defeated”, Kilkenny People 27 September 2012

Cllr Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Fein, Kilkenny County Council)
“I think like most people, I deplore the abuse of animals and cruelty to animals. It is something that is quite a passionate issue for many of our members locally and I think of it as an issue which deserves more airtime in our national and local discourse. Sinn Fein has opposed all bloodsports in Ireland and some of our members even went as far as stopping a hunt in Westmeath several years ago. Their position filled me with great pride and I have always tried my best to remain consistent in that view. A big issue in Kilkenny in the mistreatment of horses on the roads by some members of the community. That situation is abhorrent and can not continue. Should I be elected to Kilkenny County Council, it would be a great disappointment to me if the issue of animal welfare locally was still as prominent an issue at the end of the council term. I have always considered it an idea to create a register of animal abusers to make it more difficult for offenders to continue to own animals. I know that would only be the start of tackling the wider problem.” from an email to ICABS, May 2014.

Keith Gilligan (Independent, Carlow Kilkenny):
"Yes [in favour of a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing], it's cruel!" from a tweet to ICABS, February 2016.

John McGuinness TD (Fianna Fail, Carlow Kilkenny):
"The list of speakers [at a hunting function at Abbeyleix Manor Hotel on 3rd November 2012] was completed by John McGuinness TD, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee who expressed fulsome support for all field sports." From the Hunting Association website.

On 23 October 2012, John McGuinness, TD asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht "the restrictions if any, that are in place which might prevent the sale of nooski traps and rodent control products here; if a licence to sell the products is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter." ICABS subsequently sent Deputy McGuinness a link to a video showing the cruelty of illegal nooski traps.

Cllr Patrick McKee (Renua, Kilkenny County Council)
"Sulky racing should be banned. Horses should be taken if not legally held. Individulas should be prosecuted. End of story #rtept...Behavior has been disgraceful by those involved. Endangering motorists. Torturing animals. Absolutley unacceptable." from a July 2015 tweet from Cllr McKee.

Conor MacLiam (AAA, Carlow Kilkenny):
"I am indeed opposed to fox hunting and hare coursing. I am also opposed to the use of large animals in circuses and any other instances of cruel treatment of animals for entertainment purposes. I am in favour of all industries, past-times or other interactions with animals being conducted in the most humane way possible. I think that our humanity can in many senses be measured by how we treat animals." from an email to ICABS, January 2016.

Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green Party, Kilkenny County Council)
In February 2013, Cllr Noonan joined calls for a ban on foxhunting, describing it as “barbaric”. His statement came in the wake of an horrific attack on a dog by hunt hounds in a Coillte forest in Carlow which left the family pet fighting for its life with severe injuries.

Responding to the content of the ICABS "Coursing Cruelty Catalogue 2014-15", Cllr Noonan stated that "it highlights a shocking disregard for the welfare of the animals."

Ann Phelan, TD (Labour Party, Carlow Kilkenny):
"I ask the Minister to continue to review the legislation in the area of hare coursing. This morning, I discovered that hares are at an endangered level...If the practice is to the detriment of a particular species, it must be well regulated and continually monitored." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed), 20 September 2012.

John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael, Carlow Kilkenny):
"At a recent meet of the Kilmoganny Hounds, members were canvassed for their support by successful Fine Gael candidates Tom Hayes (Tipperary South) and John Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny)". From the Hunting Association of Ireland website. An accompanying photo shows "Tom Hayes and John Paul Phelan at a recent meet of the Kilmoganny Hounds" next to horses and hounds. (2011)

"I will not be supporting any ban on stag hunting." (2010)

"This Bill is potentially devastating for greyhound breeders and others. On Second Stage, for example, I mentioned hunt kennels. The Bill is the thin edge of the wedge in respect of what are loosely termed as country pursuits. I urge the Minister of State, as a representative of the largest Government party and one that, unlike some of the other parties in government, has roots in rural Ireland, to reflect on what is being proposed...Many of my neighbours who are rural people, although not farmers, have a few greyhounds and one of their few pleasures in life is to walk them every morning and evening and perhaps go to Kilcohan Park in Waterford or the greyhound track in Kilkenny city. When we have seen investment by the Government and from elsewhere in upgrading greyhound stadiums, it is bizarre to consider placing extra charges and impositions on greyhound breeders. I hope the Minister of State who represents the rural-based party in government will look to the people he knows who are involved in the greyhound industry and ensure they are not subject to a ridiculous form of double inspection." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010.

Adrienne Wallace (People Before Profit, Carlow Kilkenny)
“I’m a vegetarian and of course I’m in favour of banning foxhunting and hare coursing” from a tweet to ICABS, April 2015.

Noel G Walsh (Independent, Carlow Kilkenny)
“I will be your full time local representative pursuing issues on your behalf [including] animal welfare” from a profile page on

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