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 Reada Cronin (Sinn Fein, Kildare County Council)
"I cannot understand why they're called 'sports'. I would support a ban on hare coursing and fox hunting." from a tweet to ICABS, June 2015.

Bernard Durkan, TD (Fine Gael, Kildare North):
"My views on live hare coursing are fairly well known. In fact, during debates on the subject in the late Eighties and early Nineties, I spoke publicly to the effect that I was opposed to live hare coursing."

"What concerns me most about this Bill [Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010 which bans the Ward Union deerhunt] is the attack on rural life. In recent years we have seen the gradual erosion of the rights and entitlements of people living in rural areas...One cannot keep dogs. One cannot hunt... I do not hunt but there are many people who do." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 29 June 2010. Watch on Youtube

Deputy Durkan voted against the ban on staghunting

Cllr James Lawless (Fianna Fail, Kildare County Council)
"Totally opposed to hare coursing." from a text message to ICABS, November 2014.

Anthony Lawlor (Fine Gael, Kildare North):
"I come from an area which has two of the biggest race tracks in the country. There are two training establishments up the road and a stud farm across the road from my home. People regularly walking their greyhounds is a common sight. I am immersed in the horse and dog industries." Anthony Lawlor, Betting (Amendment) Bill 2013 Dáil debate, 16 January 2014.

"Horse meat is a valuable export, in particular to continental Europe. The French market for Irish slaughtered horses is considerable...The horses to which I refer are not bred for slaughter but for the racetrack. One should consider the statistics involved: of the 7,000 thoroughbred foals born this year, only seven will win a group 1 race. Only 3,500 will make it to a racetrack, which means 3,500 thoroughbred foals will end up being slaughtered before they reach their potential. The sad part for the sector is that breeders have potential to earn much more if the stamp “Not fit for human consumption” were to be removed from the passport. Horse meat could be a valuable export for this country...I would like to see an opportunity for us to export horsemeat for human consumption on the Continent." Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011, 29 September 2011.

Ashling Merriman (People Before Profit, Kildare North):
"I'm against blood sports or any kind of animal cruelty." from a tweet to ICABS, February 2016.

Catherine Murphy, TD (Social Democrats, Kildare North):
On 27th March 2013, Catherine Murphy supported an amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to outlaw hare coursing.

Maebh Ní Fhallúin (Green Party, Kildare North):
"The Green Party is committed to bringing in legislation to end hare coursing, fox hunting, hare hunting and mink hunting for sport. The Green Party will ensure that sufficient resources are made available to enforce existing laws against stag hunting, dog fighting, cock fighting and animal baiting. Additional regulations will be introduced where necessary to strengthen existing legislation, to increase penalties, and to make fines subject to attachment orders." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

"Thanks for your email. I support the Green Party's policy on Animal Welfare: Good luck with the campaign." from an email to ICABS, January 2016.

Emmet Stagg, TD (Labour Party, Kildare North):
"Emmet Stagg has confirmed he is among a number of Labour TDs who do not support a ban on stag hunting...Mr Stagg, Labour whip and TD for Kildare North, said: 'I see nothing wrong with it [stag hunting] at all. I think it's well regulated. I'm a supporter of country sports in general,' he said." (Irish Times, April 29, 2010)

This was in stark contrast to a statement made in the early 90s by Emmet Stagg in support of a rally against coursing in Balbriggan: "On behalf of myself and the Labour Party I want to express my full and unequivocal support for the banning of hare coursing in Ireland and throughout the European Community. It is a travesty that hare coursing is referred to as a 'sport'. It is a sadistic, cruel and barbarous activity and it is a discredit to our society that such activities remain legal. The vast majority of Irish people want this activity banned and the Labour Party commits itself to working with any other political party in Dail Eireann to bring about an end to hare coursing and other so-called field sports. It is imperative that the Irish Council Against Blood Sports continue their campaign and that people highlight in the media the barbarity of this activity. Only through a campaign of protest can we bring enough pressure on the Government and political parties to ban hare coursing. I wish this and future protests every possible success. Again, on behalf of the Labour Party, we will assist this campaign in every way possible."

In a March 2004 Dail Question, Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment if "he will reconsider the blanket ban on hunting on State lands and the way in which it might be modified".

In 2010, Deputy Stagg voted AGAINST the Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010 which banned staghunting with packs of hounds.

Cllr Brendan Young (Independent, Kildare County Council)
"I support your call [for a ban on hare coursing]. Please add my name to those calling for a ban." from an email to ICABS, August 2015.

"In favour of a ban on hare coursing and fox hunting." from a text message to ICABS, November 2014.

"I fully support a ban on hare coursing and fur farming. I have also publicly supported proposals at KCC to improve animal welfare, including controls to stop sulky racing on roads, measures to improve horse rescue (rather than euthanasia) and improved facilities at the Kildare dog pound. I am happy to be publicly associated with these campaigns." in reply to Maynooth University's Animal Rights Society. January 2016.

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