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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Senator Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
"I am shocked that I do not see any evidence of the Government’s promise made by Deputy Shane McEntee and Deputy Phil Hogan to repeal the ban on stag hunting. Will an amendment be tabled on Committee Stage? Fine Gael rose up the people in the RISE organisation by giving specific promises and a specific commitment that stag hunting in County Meath would be reinstated. We find now that this was just what I must say were barefaced lies told to the people by Fine Gael... I expected to see a provision for the reinstatement of stag hunting but there is nothing in the Bill to do with stag hunting. Those promises are just thrown on the bonfire of power. The Ministers, Deputies Hogan and McEntee conveniently and completely discarded the promises they had made to the people. " Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012, 4th July 2012. Watch on Youtube

The Irish Times of 15 December 2009 reported that at a pro-hunt meeting at Trim Castle Hotel, then TD Thomas Byrne said he was not comfortable with the proposed ban on carted deerhunting but that he would be supporting the government. He told hunters that Fianna Fail would not stand for any other prohibitions on hunting.

Regina Doherty TD (Fine Gael, Meath East):
In March 2013, Regina Doherty 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.

In 2011, Regina Doherty told ICABS that she would raise the hare coursing licensing issue with then Minister, Jimmy Deenihan.

Dominic Hannigan, TD (Labour Party, Meath East):
A call for a voluntary ban on the shooting of curlews has come from Meath TD Dominic Hannigan. The Labour Deputy made the call as a month long hunting season for the globally threatened bird species opens on November 1st. "We have seen an almost catastrophic decline in the numbers of what was once one of Ireland’s most iconic birds. A recent survey by BirdWatch Ireland estimates the number of breeding pairs in the state may now be down to less than 200. Up to the 1970’s the native population of curlews was around 12,000 breeding pairs," said Hannigan. Deputy Hannigan said there was no single cause for of the decline of the curlew. "Numerous factors are involved including the loss of habitat due to an increase in forestry, commercial peat-cutting and windfarm developments. One thing is clear however we need to take measures to protect this native bird. One of those measures should be removing the curlew from the shooting list," Hannigan added. from Dominic Hannigan's Press Office, 14 November 2011

"In principle, we are in favour of the legislation, in that it regulates the operation of Puppy Farms – Ireland is seen as the puppy farm of Europe. But it appears that Minister Gormley is using the opportunity of the new legislation to include regulation of hunting dogs and greyhounds within the remit of the act. This has made the legislation contentious...The Minister was like a chased hare at a coursing event. He was getting attacked and questioned from all sides on this." from Dominic Hannigan's blog, February 28, 2010

We listened to the views of speakers from the Ward Union Hunt, a vet, a representative from fishermen and a representative from a Gun Club, amongst others. The key issue coming out of the meeting was the worry of many that these two pieces of legislation were just the thin edge of the wedge, and that further legislation would come in later, to ban things such as shooting, fishing and even sports such as horse-racing. I spoke in relation to this. I explained that there is no appetite amongst any politician on our side of the house to ban fishing, or ban shooting. from Dominic Hannigan's blog, October 17, 2010

Cllr Sharon Keogan (Independent, Meath County Council)
In a Meath Hunt gallery on her Facebook page, photographs show Cllr Sharon Keoghan posing next to mounted members of Meath Hunt in 2011.

Seamus McDonagh (Workers' Party, Meath East)
"I am totally and utterly opposed to all blood sports"

Helen McEntee, TD (Fine Gael, Meath East):
Helen McEntee is the daughter of the late Shane McEntee TD. She worked with Shane McEntee in Dail Eireann and at the Department of Agriculture. Shane McEntee was a pro-bloodsports TD and lobbied to try and get the ban on stag hunting reversed. He also spoke in favour of hare coursing, claiming there was no danger to the hare. Helen McEntee's personal views on blood sports are unknown at this time.

"Fine Gael Meath East TD, Helen McEntee attended the launch of the Irish Greyhound Derby’s 55th anniversary celebrations in Shelbourne Park...Speaking after the event, Deputy McEntee said: ‘It was a great honour to address the Irish Greyhound Derby as it celebrates its 55th anniversary. It’s an event that otherwise would have been attended by my dad, Shane, and I am humbled to haven taken his place’...'When my father worked as Junior Minister in the Department of Agriculture, he recognised the potential in the greyhound industry, despite not having a huge amount of knowledge about it previously. He became very passionate about how he, and his Department, could make the industry even stronger . The Irish Greyhound Industry has an extremely proud history, and it is vital that we safeguard the passion and pride associated with the sector going forward. I hope to work with the Derby in the years ahead to ensure the industry gets the recognition and support it needs.'" From a Fine Gael statement, May 2013.

Seán Ó Buachalla (Green Party, Meath East)
"Yes [in favour of a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing] and the Green Party has been consistently in favour of such a ban." from a tweet to ICABS, 19th January 2016.

"I support this ban [on carted deer hunting] and condemn reported attempts to flout the law on this issue...I welcome [the government's] tacit admission that this ban is here to stay." Sean O Buachalla

Aisling O’Neill (Social Democrats, Meath East):
"Yes I would support a ban on bloodsports. Yes [in favour of a ban on Ireland's cruel fur industry]." from tweets to ICABS, February 2016.

Sarah Tyrell (Renua, Meath East):
"Yes definitely [in favour of a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing]." from a tweet to ICABS, February 2016.

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