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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Cllr Mike Cubbard (Independent, Galway City Council)
"I voted to ban animal act circuses from Galway. I am 100% against animal cruelty in all forms it unfortunately takes." from a tweet to ICABS, October 2014.

Nicola Daveron (Renua, Galway West):
"I am an animal lover and I detest any form of cruelty towards animals. I would not approve of hare coursing or fox hunting. It is a cruel sport and you will have my full support if I am elected." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Noel Grealish, TD (Independent, Galway West):
"I fully support your quest to ban live hare coursing." (September 2003)

"I will support your campaign [against terrier-work and digging out] and I will certainly write to Minister Brendan Smith." From a letter to ICABS, 18th May 2009.

Independent TD, Noel Grealish, voted in favour of the ban on stag hunting, June 2010.

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

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames (Independent - formerly Fine Gael, Galway West):
"Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames said that if the Green Party continues to 'run riot over rural pursuits' it will not just be politicians who lose the whip, jockeys will as well." from a RTE News report on the Green Party's Bill to ban cruel stag hunting. 30 June 2010.

Tommy Holohan (Anti Austerity Alliance, Galway West):
"Tommy is against all bloodsports and has a record of activism against them and related issues such as cruelty in circuses." from a text message to ICABS from Tommy Holohan's election campaign team, February 2016.

Sean Kyne, TD (Fine Gael, Galway West):
"To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider encouraging the take-up of drag coursing as an alternative to live hare coursing; and if he will make a statement on the matter." (Dail Question, 24th September 2013)

In March 2012, Deputy Kyne asked the Agriculture Minister "if the upcoming Animal Welfare Bill will contain a provision to abolish live hare coursing in view of the demonstrable evidence of the harm, injury and distress that such a sport causes to the wildlife concerned and also in recognition that such a measure would bring Ireland into line with other developed nations including the UK, several other European nations and Australia."

"I asked the Parliamentary Question on foot of concerns expressed to me by constituents on the cruelty associated with hare coursing. These are concerns which I share and I find it most puzzling when persons harbouring such concerns are labelled as anti-rural. There is nothing 'anti-rural' in seeking the highest standards for animal welfare." from an email to ICABS, March 2012.

"To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the bounty scheme for mink is in operation or if the details are yet to be finalised as we approach the critical Spring period for wildlife and the lambing season which are affected by mink." Dail question, 14 February 2012.

In October 2011, Deputy Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan "his views on whether the granting of licences to trap hares for the purposes of coursing runs contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2000, particularly as hares under section 23 are a protected species" and "the number of licences granted for coursing of hares in County Galway in 2011".

Derek Nolan, TD (Labour Party, Galway West):
In June 2012, Derek Nolan TD asked the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, "if the exemptions on fishing, hunting and hare coursing underlined in section 12(12) of the Animal Welfare Bill will be retained".

Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein, Galway):
Sinn Fein Senator, Trevor O Clochartaigh, has confirmed that the party "will not be supporting the repeal of the ban on stag hunting". He said that Sinn Fein "consider stag hunting to be a bloodsport [that] causes the infliction of cruelty to animals". November 2011.

"As we know, the greyhound industry is a substantial employer. It is not yet on a par with the horseracing industry in terms of funding or employment but it is nevertheless substantial. It is concerning, however, to see that breeding is down 14% and that there is a shortage of dogs for races at the moment...The potential of the industry is considerable. It is estimated that 40,000 tourists attended greyhound races last year. However, there is a serious issue around the perception of the industry at the moment as well as serious questions around governance which must be raised. The industry has modernised and made its image more sophisticated. While attracting corporate clients and tourists, the greyhound industry must also be supported to continue to provide the facilities and recreation it always has to its usual punters at small tracks throughout the country. It is a rather Irish sport and we are unique in this regard...One of the biggest issues I have heard raised is the doping of dogs and the numbers using drugs to enhance their performance. This is dealing a death blow to the whole industry. I understand that in 2012, some 6,000 samples were taken from dogs. As of January this year, only 17 results from those tests have been published." Trevor ” Clochartaigh, Seanad debate, 19 February 2014.

Eamon O Cuiv, TD (Fianna Fail, Galway West):
"The Minister is right not to introduce a ban on hunting, fishing or coursing in the Bill. There are parts of the country where they form part of way of life and as long as it does not involve excessive cruelty, the Minister's approach in this regard is correct. I do not agree with anti-hunting lobby." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage, Dail Eireann, September 19th, 2012. Watch on Youtube

In November 2012, ICABS welcomed a statement from Eamon O Cuiv TD that he does not agree with the digging out of animals or the use of terriers to attack animals that have gone to ground. The Galway West TD expressed his opposition to these cruel activities during the Committee Stage of the Animal Health and Welfare Bill on 8th November. Addressing Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Deputy O Cuiv stated: "Will [the Minister] explain whether the use of canines for the hunting of any animal, digging out of any wild mammal gone to ground and the use of terriers to attack and extract the wild mammal above or below ground, is legally permissible? The Bill provides that unnecessary cruelty is not permitted. Is that issue covered in the Bill? I do not agree with that particular procedure but I do not have a problem with normal hunting. Nature can be quite cruel but that appears to be going too far. If the Bill is passed, will the digging out of foxes be legally permissible, given the other terms about cruelty to animals?"

"I will be outlining my views on this issue at the Committee as the debate proceeds but agree with the Minister that there should be no outright ban on hunting and coursing." from an email from Eamon O Cuiv to ICABS, 8th November 2012.

"I will certainly support the abolition of hare coursing...I do not favour hare coursing at all as I feel it is a cruel sport. You can rest assured of my stand on this matter." from a December 1992 letter to anti-coursing campaigner John Fitzgerald.

Why the change between 1992 and 2012? "Explanation is quite simple and that is that the lobby against hare coursing will not give up until they make us all into vegetarians." (from an email from Eamon O Cuiv to an ICABS supporter, September 2012)

John O'Mahony, TD (Fine Gael, Galway West):
"Mayo Fine Gael TD, John OíMahony, has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, to provide funding for a bounty for the killing of wild mink to the National Association of Regional Game Councils. Deputy OíMahony said he raised the issue of wild mink in Mayo with Minister Deenihan and he was delighted that the details of the bounty had been announced...Minister Deenihan has met with the National Regional Game Councils, who have been actively promoting mink control and the result of it is the bounty that has just been announced. The Minister has committed Ä20,000 towards the bounty scheme and it will be paid to hunters based on the number of mink killed." from a statement on John O'Mahony's website, January 17, 2012.

Ruairi OíNeill (Direct Democracy Ireland, Galway West):
"I completely oppose the hunting of Foxes and Hare coursing. As a lover of all wild animals and a person that lives in the countryside, I have great respect for these animals ability to survive in our harsh and unfriendly environment. I frequently meet foxes on the roads when Iím traveling and I always slow down for them and dip my headlights to give them the chance to make their way across the road. Iíve never hit a Fox, Rabbit, Hare or Badger, yet I see so many of these animals dead on the road. Regrettably not all road users share my love of wildlife. I canít understand the need for people to destroy a wild animal." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Niall ” Tuathail (Social Democrats, Galway West):
"The issues you raise are very important and complex and I am highly supportive of measures aimed at improving the welfare of animals...while I fully agree that the issues you raise are highly important, we do not yet have a defined set of policies in relation to them. We are however committed to directing research towards this issue so that we can develop defined policy positions across the range of issues you raise." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Tommy Roddy (Independent, Galway West):
"I am in favour of a ban on foxhunting/hare coursing." from a tweet to ICABS, February 2016.

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