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 John Brassil (Fianna Fail, Kerry County Council)
On August 28 2008, the Kerryman newspaper reported that Cllr Brassil was lobbying then Environment Minister John Gormley to issue a hare coursing licence "at the earliest opportunity". A claim by Cllr Brassil in the report that "animal welfare is of primary concern to all involved in hare coursing" was branded outrageous by ICABS.

At a Kerry County Council meeting on 28th November 2011, Cllr Brassil presented the motion: "That Kerry County Council would fill the potholes on the approach road to the coursing field in Addergown, Ballyduff prior to the weekend of the 18th November, 2011"

Donal Corcoran (Renua, Kerry County):
"I am against bloodsports." from a text message to ICABS, February 2016.

Jimmy Deenihan, TD (Fine Gael, Kerry County):
"I go to the occasional coursing meeting...I totally agree with Deputy [Mattie] McGrath that local gun and coursing clubs are really very important for the preservation of wildlife in this country." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second and Subsequent Stages, 18 July 2012. Watch on Youtube

"Whatever I can do for coursing while I am in this job, I will certainly do it." Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at the 2012 annual hare coursing awards. Sporting Press website, 30 March 2012

"It was I who proposed muzzling greyhounds for coursing and it is working very well." (Note: muzzling is actually not "working well"; hares continue to suffer and die during coursing meetings as muzzled dogs hit the creatures and maul them into the ground)

According to a report in Kerry's Eye, Jimmy Deenihan was present at an Abbeydorney Hunt on January 27 1997

"On a personal basis, I have very little interest in coursing. On a personal basis, it would not bother me whether coursing was banned or not...the coursing fraternity in this country are very concerned about the future of the sport...many Catholic clergy are involved in hare coursing." from a letter written by Jimmy Deenihan to an animal welfare group in Hawaii in the early 1990s.

Martin Ferris, TD (Sinn Fein, Kerry County):
In November 2015, Martin Ferris TD, Cllr Robert Beasley and Cllr Dianne Nolan placed an advert in the booklet for Listowel hare coursing meeting. The advert stated: "Best of luck to Listowel Coursing Club". See 3 Sinn Fein politicians wish "best of luck" to cruel coursers.

"Some people are straightforwardly opposed to racing and coursing of greyhounds. It is not a position I or my party share..." Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage, Dail Eireann, September 19th, 2012. Watch on Youtube

"There is the legitimate argument that the State, the State acting on behalf of a section of the electorate or, in this case, one political party, ought not to have the right to ban activities just because someone else does not like them. There are many people who do not like this form of hunting, and they are entitled to their beliefs. However, they are not entitled to have it banned simply on that basis.

The only basis on which they would be entitled would be if it could be proved that the practise in question was either cruel, deliberately designed to kill the animal being pursued or that the animal in question was an endangered species. None of that applies as far as I can see in this instance.

There is also the argument, including on behalf of people who have no particular interest in or affection for stag hunting, that if this activity is banned the way will be open to ban other sports involving animals. That could include hare coursing, for example, and I have little doubt that if this Bill is successful that will be the next target." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 24 June 2010. Deputy Ferris voted AGAINST the bill. Watch on Youtube

"Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris yesterday said he did not consider hare coursing a blood sport...Mr Ferris said he was stating his position on hare coursing because there was confusion surrounding the motion passed at the last party ardfheis calling for a ban on all blood sports. He said he was supportive of 'traditional rural' pursuits such as hare coursing, and he did not consider it a blood sport as greyhounds were now muzzled." Irish Times, September 8, 2009. Note: Deputy Ferris maintains this view despite evidence provided to him by ICABS which shows that coursing is a blood sport that continues to cause horrific injuries and deaths to hares.

"Hunting, coursing, fishing and shooting... are big part of rural Ireland and a big part of what we are. They are very beneficial to the economy of rural Ireland." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Committee and Remaining Stages, 29 June 2010 - Deputy Ferris voted against the ban on staghunting.

Brian Finucane (People Before Profit)
"I am against bloodsports and animal cruelty. We need to speak and stand for those who can't." from a tweet to ICABS, May 2014.

Henry Gaynor (Independent, Kerry County):
"How do I feel about blood sports? I have no problem with shooting game for food. I used to be against hare coursing but I have no problem with it since the muzzling of dogs was brought in. I am against sports like fox hunting and stag hunting where the animals are hunted to the point of exhaustion just for fun. I am against circus animals as I don't see the point in it. I am against fur farming as we now have plenty of synthetic and plant based materials for making clothes. I am also against using animals for laboratory research." from an email to ICABS, January 2016.

Brendan Griffin TD (Fine Gael, Kerry County):
In March 2013, Brendan Griffin TD 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.

Michael Healy-Rae, TD (Independent, Kerry County):
Michael Healy-Rae, who holds certificates for three different guns, said firearms were very restricted in Ireland. They are linked to pest control and game hunting or sports, and one had to be a member of a gun club, or own land, to be granted a licence, he said...Some years ago, Mr Healy-Rae threatened to take out a licence to hunt “marauding” deer — he did not confirm yesterday if one of his licences was to shoot deer. from ‘Let rural dwellers have guns for protection’, Irish Examiner, April 26, 2013.

"What do you do in your spare time to unwind?...I also enjoy shooting but, again, those opportunities aren’t as frequent." from an interview in RSVP magazine.

"Michael Healy-Rae has applied for a permit to shoot deer in an effort to reduce the deer population. Michael already has a gun licence for his rifle that allows him to shoot pheasants and foxes." from a caption on a photo of Michael Healy-Rae pointing a rifle skywards.

Kevin Murphy (Independent, Kerry County):
"I am not in favour of bloodsports nor am I in favour of the continued use of animals in circuses and zoos, nor for cosmetic experimentation." from an email to ICABS, 1st February 2016.

Arthur Spring TD (Labour Party, Kerry County):
In March 2013, Arthur Spring TD 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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