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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Richard Boyd Barrett, TD (People Before Profit Alliance, Dun Laoghaire):
"The gaping omission in this Bill is that although animal cruelty is well defined, along with the need to make it illegal to engage in cruelty against animals, there are two specific opt-outs in the areas of hare coursing and fox hunting. That is unacceptable and difficult to understand. What possible justification is there for this when cruelty is so well defined as causing unnecessary suffering to animals? How can the Minister indicate that cruelty in some circumstances can be allowed, justified or excluded from the provisions of the Bill that try to establish a humane regime for the treatment of animals? The Minister simply cannot justify this exclusion and he should not do so.

"The Bill needs to be amended in this regard because hare coursing involves cruelty to animals in all the ways described by Deputy Daly and fox hunting also involves cruelty and suffering for animals. It is not something the vast majority of people in the country want or support. Outlawing this form of cruelty does not endanger traditional pursuits because, as has been well debated and discussed and I do not need to inform the Minister of it, there are humane alternatives whereby such activities can be carried on in other ways such as through drag coursing which do not require the suffering of animals. The Minister should take his lead from Northern Ireland where hare coursing has been banned and we should do the same. There should be no exemptions. Cruelty to animals is cruelty to animals and it should not be allowed. I welcome the Bill but it is important that the Government makes these amendments and removes the exclusions on hare coursing and fox hunting." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage, Dail Eireann, September 19th, 2012. Watch on Youtube

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

Cormac Devlin (Fianna Fail, Dún Laoghaire):
"I have been a member of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals since I was a child. Animal welfare is certainly a priority for me. As a county councillor, I repeatedly highlighted abuses in the dog breeding industry. I was delighted to see the introduction of the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010 which effectively outlawed "puppy farms". Should I be elected to Dáil Eireann, I look forward to working closely with advocacy groups like the DSPCA to improve legislation in this area, in particular with regard to Foxhunting and Hare coursing." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

"I've been a supporter of Dublin SPCA since I was a child & worked as a public rep to ban puppy farms, yes this is a priority. Yes [I am in favour of a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing]." from tweets to ICABS, 5th February 2016.

Cllr Mary Hanafin (Fianna Fail, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council)
As a TD in 2005, Mary Hanafin was one of 62 Fianna Fail TDs who voted against the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004. In November 2014, she voted in favour of a council motion which described urban foxes as a "problem" and which called for action to be taken to deal with them.

"From WikiLeaks: How the USA got access to Ireland's secrets", Irish Independent, May 31 2011: "A leaked cable reveals how former minister and current Fianna Fail vice-president Mary Hanafin briefed the American Embassy on tense ongoing coalition negotiations. The word "PROTECT" appears beside her name in the cable, meaning her identity and/or her comments were not to be made public. Ms Hanafin last night confirmed she gave the briefing at the behest of US Ambassador Dan Rooney. According to the dispatch, Ms Hanafin made a number of derogatory comments about her Green Party coalition partners. "She said she had the impression that, if some of the Greens had their way, the Programme for Government would emphasize 'hares, stags and badgers while everyone else in the country is drowning in this economy'," Ambassador Rooney told Washington in the cable. Ms Hanafin refused to say last night if she stood over the remarks attributed to her."

Carol Hunt (Independent, Dun Laoghaire):
"Yes, I am [in favour of a ban on fox hunting and hare coursing]." from a tweet to ICABS, February 2016.

Cllr Shane O'Brien (Sinn Fein, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council)
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.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD (Fine Gael, Dun Laoghaire):
"I agree with you wholeheartedly on the issue of puppy farming...The Programme for Government 2011 contains a commitment to amend and strengthen legislation on animal cruelty and animal welfare. The main vehicle to fulfil this commitment will be the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which is a comprehensive piece of legislation providing a broad basis for regulating the related areas of animal health and welfare. Drafting of the Bill is ongoing with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and it is Minister Coveney’s intention to publish the Bill at an early date." from correspondence to the Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports. October 2011.

In March 2013, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD asked the Minister for Agriculture if his attention has been drawn to "the problem of a skulk of foxes in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown area; the service provider or assistance that is available to persons to solve this health and safety issue" Read More

Cllr Carrie Smyth (Labour, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council)
"I do not like to see cruelty to animals." from an email to ICABS, April 2014.

Cllr Ossian Smyth (Green Party, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council)
"I am against animal cruelty." from a tweet to ICABS, 5th August 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.

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