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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Micheal Callaghan (Green Party, Cavan Monaghan):
"Yes I am in favour of a ban [on foxhunting and hare coursing]. Green Party policy strong on animal rights. In govt we banned stag hunting and puppy farms." from a tweet to ICABS, 20th January 2016.

In a February 2016 message to a contituent, Micheal Callaghan stated: "Our priorities in the next term in office are to: introduce measures requiring all pigs and poultry to be provided with adequate space, natural light and opportunities to carry out their natural behaviours. increase the numbers of officers authorised to enforce animal welfare laws, and provide additional resources to agencies, such as the ISPCA, whose inspectors have powers to investigate cruelty cases and initiate legal proceedings. ban fur farming of all species (mink, fox etc.) with a fair compensation scheme for existing fur farmers. end badger culling by snares and shooting and support alternative measures to minimise the spread of TB, such as oral vaccination. bring in legislation to end hare coursing and fox, hare and mink hunting for sport. introduce regulations to govern the commercial breeding of all species and licensing of pet shops and animal boarding facilities to ensure adequate standards. require consumer products derived from animals to carry labels showing how they conform to specific animal welfare criteria. ban all non-medical animal experiments. ensure that only circuses which do not use animal acts will be eligible for public funding. support zoos in fulfilling a role in education and conservation, provided that they comply with the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare. give higher priority to habitat creation and protection in farming policy, rural environment schemes and development planning."

Sean Conlan, TD (Fine Gael, Cavan Monaghan):
In March 2013, Sean Conlon 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.

Heather Humphreys, TD (Fine Gael, Cavan Monaghan):
As Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys continued licensing cruel hare coursing. Her annual licence allowed coursing clubs to net thousands of hares from the wild and use them as live lures for greyhounds to chase. She disregarded appeals for her to refuse the licence, despite the ongoing suffering, injury and death of hares used in the bloodsport. Heather Humphreys also continued licensing the cruel snaring and killing of thousands of badgers (a supposedly protected species) as part of the Department of Agriculture's failed TB Eradication scheme.

In 2015, three weeks after issuing a hare coursing licence, Arts and Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys made her way to Birr Castle in County Offaly to attend a game fair which celebrates the killing of Irish wildlife. Minister Humphreys, who has refused to meet groups campaigning against bloodsports, was more than happy to perform the opening ceremony at an event which attracts those who blast wildlife to death, unleash lurchers and terriers to attack and kill foxes, use packs of hounds to terrorise and tear foxes apart and send ferrets underground to catch and injure rabbits. The Minister with responsibility for our Wildlife Act was photographed at last weekend's Birr Game Fair which promotes itself as being of interest to "the most discerning" hunters and shooters. Minister Humphreys was a "VIP Guest" 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. View the photo of Minister Humphreys posing next to hunting representatives

Mick McDermott (Direct Democracy Ireland, Cavan Monaghan):
"I am strongly against any cruelty to animals. I am an animal lover. In my family we have always had pets (mostly dogs and cats). Myself and my wife have recently sent an application to help foster dogs to try save them from being put down. So I am strongly against Hare Coursing, Fox Hunting and Fur Farming." from an email to a constituent, February 2016.

Caoimhghin O Caolain, TD (Sinn Fein, Cavan Monaghan):
"I am totally opposed to live hare coursing."

Aoife O’Connell (Direct Democracy Ireland, Cavan Monaghan):
"I am against all animal cruelty, I adore animals and have 3 rescue dogs. I have hand rared kittens and puppies in order to give them a second chance, one of my first pets was a lion mane rabbit. I live beside a forest and would often see Foxes and the occasional Hare. These beautiful animals play a role in our eco system and should be protected. Fur farming is another disgusting industry that should be ashamed of themselves! All animals can feel, therefore they have a soul and we should honor them by caring and respecting them. I am strongly against hare coursing, fox hunting, fur farming and any other sick sport that puts these beautiful animals in harm's way." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Joe O’Reilly, TD (Fine Gael, Cavan Monaghan):
"Also central to my childhood was sport, by which I mean people going out to shoot in November, people going coursing or various forms of outdoor sport with beagles. Regardless of whether one likes it, the Ward Union Hunt is an integral part of rural society and rural life. The deer is not at risk in the physical sense... I am in favour of the Ward Union Hunt and have no quibbles about that." Speaking as a Senator, Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 30 June 2010

"I live beside a hunt known as the Drumlin Hounds in Cootehill. I am familiar with members of the hunt and know the dogs are well fed, cared for in an exemplary fashion and kept in the best possible conditions. Those involved in the hunt have an affection for their animals, are outdoors people and love sport...Next Friday week, I will attend a hunt ball in the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon in the Minister of State's constituency. I do so every year as the ball is an opportunity to meet a wonderful group of people from the Roscommon hunt who have a passion for what they do and love and care for their animals." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 10 February 2010.

Kathryn Reilly (Sinn Fein, Cavan Monaghan):
"I am opposed to fur farming and harvesting. I am against unnecessary animal cruelty, particularly where an animal is maimed, or killed, in an absence of regulation and oversight." from an email to a constituent, February 2016. Kathryn Reilly went on to say that, as a representative of Sinn Fein, she is bound by the party's animal welfare policy which states that Sinn Fein is opposed to a ban on hunting and hare coursing.

Brendan Smith, TD (Fianna Fail, Cavan Monaghan):
According to the Summer 2008 edition of the Hunting Association's newsletter, Minister Brendan Smith "officially opens Drumlin Hounds Equestrian Facility". The Drumlin Hounds is a Cavan hunt affiliated to the Irish Masters of Harriers Association. "The course, [was] built by Drumlin Equestrian with the aid of a grant from the Government Sports Capital Scheme...Minister Smith commended the group on their vision, perseverance and personal commitment in pursuing and completing this project." Minister Smith was photographed alongside members of the hunt.

Mary Smyth (Independent, Cavan Monaghan):
"I wish to state that all animals are God's creatures and are entitled to be treated humanely. I am utterly opposed to both foxhunting and hare coursing as both pursuits result in the savage pack slaughter of live, terrified animals who cannot by nature escape such an attack. In my view both pursuits are cruel and barbaric, purely designed to satisfy the primitive lusts of human bully boys with horses, dogs and bugles. Let animals be." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

John Wilson (Independent, Cavan Monaghan):
"Foxhunting, hare coursing and fur farming are barbaric practices. I can't be any clearer than that." from a message to a constituent, January 2016.

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