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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Lorna Bogue (Green Party, Cork South Central):
"The Green Party has always supported animal rights and our full policy can be found here " from a tweet to ICABS, 20th January 2016.

Jerry Buttimer, TD (Fine Gael, Cork South Central):
"As someone who has had a family involvement in greyhounds over the years, I think it is important that we understand the massive economic activity that the greyhound industry generates in Ireland...We must examine the issue of making greyhound racing and horse racing sustainable in this country. We must look at the betting industry here." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011, 30th June 2011.

Simon Coveney (Fine Gael, Cork South Central):
In February 2015, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney admitted that he has participated in the shameful bloodsport of foxhunting. During a Dail in which he defended the cruel activity, Simon Coveney revealed: “I have hunted”. Despite acknowledging that he is “sure” that foxes get pulled apart by packs of hounds during foxhunts, he refused to ban the activity. “When I have hunted, I have never seen a fox being pulled apart,” he said. “I am sure, however, that it happens and I am not saying it does not.” Dismissing an impassioned appeal from Irish Council Against Blood Sports president, Maureen O’Sullivan TD, to embrace drag hunting and outlaw the hunting of live animals with packs of dogs, Coveney outlined that he and his colleagues are aiming to accommodate those who get their kicks from cruelty. “Our policy decisions try to strike a balance for those who derive great enjoyment from hunting,” he said. This included inserting an exemption into the Animal Health and Welfare Act which gives fox hunters immunity from prosecution for what would otherwise be an offence of animal cruelty.

"For the sake of clarity, this section does not apply to activity occurring during the normal course of hunting, fishing or coursing...We have done a separate review on fur farming, the details of which I can give to the Deputy. We will not ban it..." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage, Dail Eireann, September 19th, 2012. Watch on Youtube

"It is not appropriate to simply outlaw hare coursing and hunting when they are pursued according to the codes of conduct drawn up by clubs. Considerable numbers of people are passionate about these pursuits and my job is to ensure that standards are met rather than simply outlawing practices." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage, Dail Eireann, September 20th, 2012.

"We went to great lengths to ensure we were not doing anything that would prevent people from continuing to participate in field sports as they would have in the past, as long as that is in a way that is consistent with the codes of conduct enshrined in those sports, including coursing, hunting and fishing. The measure applies only if there is undue cruelty such as the digging out of animals when they have gone to ground, which is unacceptable. In the legislation I am not banning coursing and hunting through the back door. We are trying to get the balance right between facilitating field sports and ensuring the codes of practice agreed for those sports are respected. If people begin to operate outside these codes, that is a different issue." Simon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael) Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage, 22 May 2012 Watch on Youtube

"I have probably answered Deputy Colreavy's arguments on whether fur-farming and coursing are absolutely necessary. They are not. When something is not necessary for people to live and eat, it is a judgment call whether that means one should ban activities such as coursing and fur-farming, whether or not one likes them. It is my judgment that we should regulate rather than ban them." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed) (Continued), 22 November 2012

"I am trying to get balanced legislation that takes account of farming and hunting practices in a reasonable way, but also provides appropriate protection for animals to ensure that we do not have either wanton or accidental cruelty because neither is acceptable." Dail Eireann Questions and Answers, 10th May 2012

Cllr Mick Finn (Independent, Cork South Central)
"I personally don't like fox hunting or coursing, but I know that hunting has been around for centuries in Ireland. Many abhor but many also participate in these events." March 2014.

Elizabeth Hourihane (Independent, Cork South Central):
"I am against all kinds of cruelty to animals...animal testing, etc" from a text message to ICABS, February 2016.

Ciaran Lynch, TD (Labour Party, Cork South Central):
"Everyone is looking for legislation to be introduced in this House to deal with the scandalous practices that have existed in Irish puppy farming for a significant period of time. Like other political parties, the Labour Party believes measures to deal with this scandal are long overdue...The Labour Party recognises that hunt clubs are not commercial dog-breeding establishments and that groups affiliated to the Hunting Association of Ireland, HAI, should be seen in that context and not be defined in the Bill as subject to the same definitions and regulatory regimes as puppy farms...the Labour Party seeks to avoid a regulatory regime that could be exploited by opponents of legitimate dog hunting clubs...I am not a coursing person, but Deputy Sherlock has informed me that the hare has been truly and surely "turned" on this matter and that there has been a climbdown on the issue...The Bill will create a mass of bureaucracy for clubs that hunt legitimately, whether drag hunting or fox hunting. These are clubs that take great care of the their hounds." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 [Seanad]: Second Stage, 2nd July 2010.

Micheal Martin, TD (Fianna Fail, Cork South Central):
Speaking on RTE's Questions and Answers on 20th September 2004, Micheal Martin, TD stated that he does not think foxhunting should be banned in Ireland. Responding to a question from presenter, John Bowman, Deputy Martin said: "Foxhunting has been a part of Irish rural life for quite a long time, since well before the foundation of the state. I'm not sure banning a sport like that is the way to deal with issues like this." His comments came just five days after members of Parliament in the UK voted overwhelmingly to make foxhunting illegal there.

Michael McGrath (Fianna Fail, Cork South Central):
In March 2013, Michael McGrath 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.

In a September 2008 Dail question, Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment "when he will introduce regulations to implement the recommendations of the working group to review the management of dog breeding establishments; and his plans to exempt the kennels of non-commercial clubs registered with the Hunting Association of Ireland from such regulations."

Diarmaid O Cadhla (The People’s Convention)
"My view [on bloodsports] doesn't matter. I'm standing in [the 2014 election] to represent my community, as required by Bunreacht, the people decide policy." from a tweet to ICABS, May 2014. In response, ICABS stated "Your view certainly does matter to the electorate deciding who to vote for."

Jim O’Connell (People Before Profit Alliance, Cork South Central):
"I am opposed to all blood sports and unnecessary exploitation of animals including circus acts, racing and fur farming." from an email to ICABS, January 2016.

Fiona Ryan (AAA, Cork South Central):
"I absolutely abhor any exploitation, endangerment and injury of animals for human entertainment and commit fully to support or put forward legislation that improves animal welfare, particularly in regards to bringing an end to live game hunting and exploitation within circuses." from an email to ICABS, January 2016.

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