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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Ray Butler, TD (Fine Gael, Meath West):
In March 2013, Ray Butler 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.

"I have been involved in greyhound racing all my life, it is in my blood. I have trained, raced and bred greyhounds. The greyhound industry employs 10,500 people, part-time and full-time. That is why the Government provides significant funding because the industry is both a significant employer and revenue stream for the Government. In some areas greyhound racing is like the GAA club because local people have their coursing dogs and greyhounds...With regard to the drugs situation, most owners and breeders say the fines do not fit the crime and the system used on the track and at coursing meetings will have to change." Ray Butler, Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Indecon Report: Bord na gCon, 21 October 2014.

Cllr Shane Cassells (Fianna Fail, Meath West)
ICABS thanked Cllr Shane Cassells in 2010 for being one of only 3 Meath County Councillors who voted against a pro-blood sports motion. "I firmly believe that the majority of Meath people are in favour of seeing the pursuit of live deer banned...I was very pleased to speak out against the mistruths which the RISE campaign are using to try and advance their cause."

Damien English, TD (Fine Gael, Meath West):
"I shall take a few seconds to register my opposition to this Bill and my support for the Ward Union Hunt and hunts in general. I have spent all my life living beside the Meath Hunt and have watched it in operation. I watched how its members treat their dogs and run their business. I do not get a chance to follow or watch the Ward Union Hunt and its business but I know many of the people involved. They treat animals and operate in exactly the same way as the Meath Hunt. They have respect for animals and know what they are doing." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 29 June 2010. Watch on Youtube Deputy English voted against the ban on staghunting

"Shane McEntee and Damien English promised unqualified support for the Ward Union and hunting in general from any incoming government led by Fine Gael." from the Hunting Association website, 2009.

Alan Lawes (National Citizens Movement, Meath West)
"I am against any activity that is cruel to animals, including the ones you mentioned [foxhunting and hare coursing]. Yes I would be in favor [of a ban on bloodsports]." from a tweet to ICABS, May 2014.

Tracy McElhinney (Labour Party, Meath West):
"As a Labour Party Candidate here in Meath West I wish to outline my position in relation to animal welfare issues. In line with my party policy here is the following: "We plan to enact legislation to provide courts with new powers to protect neglected or abused animals, even before a conviction has been achieved.The responsibility for all animal health and welfare issues, including animal experimentation and enforcement of the Dog Control Acts should be vested in a single Minister. We consider it unacceptable that no Minister currently accepts responsibility for animal welfare issues affecting non- canine pets. The Labour Party wants to make it unlawful to sell or buy any product from the international trade in cat and dog fur. The Labour Party will audit the management of animal control measures carried out by local authorities. We also favour lengthening the minimum allowable time between capture and destruction of stray animals. The B.S.E. and Foot and Mouth crises have ensured the connection between animal welfare and food safety is foremost in all of our minds. The Labour Party is committed to the highest possible evidence-based standards in its animal health and welfare policies. Where gaps in the setting of standards in animal welfare exist, for instance because the scientific evidence is absent, the Labour Party will seek to develop that evidence and where it exists, such standards will be improved accordingly. The Labour Party will enact a Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill to ban fur farming of mink, fox and rabbits and will pay compensation to producers to exit the trade." (from a 2006 Labour Party document)

Seamus McMenamin (Green Party, Meath West):
"We have alway supported animal welfare. We introduced legislation on stag hunting and puppy farms." from a tweet to ICABS, 19th January 2016.

Peadar Tóibín (Sinn Fein, Meath West):
In June 2015, Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance "the revenue that would be generated from the removal of [tax] exemptions relating to horses and horse breeding."

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