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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Clare Daly, TD (Socialist Party, Dublin Fingal):
"That the practice of hare coursing is being excluded from the protections of this Bill is such an absolute gaping anomaly. It's a contradiction. In essence, what we're doing is recognising that the practice itself is inherently cruel but then we are allowing it to continue. It is something that I, and a majority of Irish citizens, consistently in opinion polls believe is an outdated practice which has no part in modern Ireland...Information circulated to all Deputies which shows that a very successful drag coursing event took place negates the traditional argument that people who love greyhounds will not have a chance to exercise their dogs and allow them to compete. That argument is an absolute nonsense. We do not need hare coursing to continue for dogs to be exercised or compete in this manner. Successful drag coursing events held in Ireland prove this and negate that argument. The Minister must take this on board. Not allowing this barbarity to continue and replacing it with drag coursing would do far better for our tourism industry...We've heard an awful lot over the years to justify hare coursing - ridiculous arguments in my mind, all of which can be defeated. Nonsense like 'the hares are being looked after and they're being protected'. Let's be clear here: these animals are picked up, snatched from their environment, kept to be chased by dogs and sustain massive injuries..." Animal Health and Welfare Bill, 27 March 2013. Watch on Youtube

"The Bill acknowledges that these practices [coursing and foxhunting] are cruel and inflict pain and unnecessary suffering, yet it exempts them from the protection it rightly provides in other circumstances. This is not adequate in a civilised society and is not good enough in a Bill on animal welfare. It is certainly not good enough for hares and foxes." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage, Dail Eireann, September 19th, 2012. Watch on Youtube

"My Technical Group colleague, Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, has asked me to apologise on her behalf as she is unfortunately unable to contribute to the debate. Like me, she welcomes all initiatives that promote animal welfare and looks forward to the day when coursing, fur farming, fox hunting and all such activities are banned. All these so-called sports have, at their core, deliberate and wilful cruelty to animals, including death." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011: Second Stage, 30 June 2011.

"The Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 talks about the prohibition of terrifying or baiting an animal. It goes on to exempt hare coursing. One Bill acknowledges that hare coursing is cruel by putting in an exemption for hares. Hares are exempt from protection in one Bill and are included in this Bill to allow them to be shot, presumably over the course of the next few months, in case some of them got away or something like that...It is appropriate to say that this barbarity must stop. What did the hare ever do? We are talking about making provision for licences to allow people to shoot this unique animal - an endemic sub-species that is not found anywhere else in the world - in the open season. I am suggesting that other forms of treatment of this species, such as hare coursing activity, are relevant in this context. We have allowed this activity to continue for more than 100 years while other jurisdictions have been criminalising it...It is scandalous that this activity continues...The Irish Coursing Club has said that hares come to no harm in coursing because they are protected by the existing rules governing the sport, as the club calls it. That is completely and utterly false. It does not stand up to any scrutiny of the evidence...The Irish Wildlife Trust has suggested in one of its reports that the unsustainable taking of hares for sporting purposes could be one of the reasons the species is threatened and in decline. It is obvious that this extension of hunting licences, to allow some more hares to be shot, will pose a further threat to the species as a whole." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second and Subsequent Stages, 18 July 2012. Watch on Youtube

"We in the Socialist Party oppose stag hunting and the inherent cruelty of hunting animals purely for human enjoyment. We will oppose any attempt to overturn the ban from within the Dail. We also support the banning of hare coursing and we would be in favour of legislation which aimed to do so." March 22nd, 2011.

In 2007, Councillor Clare Daly proposed a successful motion to ban the Use of Wild Animals in Circuses on land Owned by Fingal County Council. The final wording of the agreed motion was: "That Fingal County Council support the introduction of by-laws or other measures which would ensure that circuses which use wild animals are prohibited from performing in any part of the local authority area, in light of the well-documented evidence of suffering endured by the animals involved and the serious animal welfare issues raised."

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

Alan Farrell TD (Fine Gael, Dublin Fingal):
In March 2013, Alan Farrell 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.

Roslyn Fuller (Independent, Dublin Fingal):
"To my mind, 'traditional hunting' would be along the lines of shooting a deer you intend to eat. I do not object to this kind of hunting. Nor do I particularly object to shooting anything that steals your chickens, etc. But fox-hunting as a sport doesn’t seem to meet these utilitarian requirements, - if there’s anyone out there who enjoys a good dish of freshly-caught fox, they’ve been keeping it a good secret. Also, I’m not sure what part of flushing out a fox on purpose and chasing it around with a pack of hounds really qualifies as ‘hunting’. Furthermore, not to put too fine a point upon it, but it has always seemed to me that anyone who enjoys chasing a small animal around and watching it ripped to shreds has a screw loose somewhere. I wouldn’t be sorry to see this go. So if legislation banning fox-hunting were laid before me, I’d support the ban. I’m not completely opposed to wearing fur or hunting animals for fur, but fur farming (and all other kinds of farming) need to comply with humane standards, not only in the way animals are killed but also in the standard of life they enjoy..." extract from a reply to the National Animal Rights Association, 2016.

Terry Kelleher (Anti Austerity Alliance, Dublin Fingal):
"Complete ban. No cruelty to animals. Very strong views on this." from a text message to ICABS, February 2016.

Barry Martin (People Before Profit, Dublin Fingal):
"I would most certainly support further legislation to improve animal legislation. Anything to stop unnecessary cruelty to animals should be supported. In November at the Balbriggan/Swords local area committee meeting I supported a motion that was objecting to the use of wild animals in circuses in Fingal." in reply to Maynooth University's Animal Rights Society.

Senator 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.

Joe O’Brien (Green Party, Dublin Fingal):
"Yes indeed I am [in favour of a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing]." from a tweet to ICABS, January 19th, 2016.

Dr James Reilly, TD (Fine Gael, Dublin Fingal):
"Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show researchers in Trinity College spent more than 368,000 Euro on live animals in only 12 months to use in tests aimed at treating disease in humans. The figure is more than double what was spent the previous year. Dogs, pigs, rabbits, mice and rats have been used in the university's medical experiments, but there is pressure from the EU to find other ways of conducting tests. The Trinity figures show the huge cost of "maintenance and welfare" during the same period, bringing the bill to 665,102 Euro. Between October 2011 and last September the university bought 15 pigs, 20,094 mice and 6,579 rats for use in its labs. The animals are tested as part of the exploration of treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and genetic disorders. The university said any research carried out on animals requires the prior licensing of the person and the project by the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly...the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society, which is campaigning for an end to the use of live animals, argues that animal experimentation 'allows the infliction of pain and suffering'."

James Reilly TD voted against the staghunt ban.

Brendan Ryan TD (Labour Party, Dublin Fingal):
In March 2013, Brendan Ryan 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.

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