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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Kate Bopp (Independent, Offaly):
Kate Bopp has expressed support for "country sports such as hunting". In a February 2016 press release headed "Offaly election candidate calls for the right to bear arms", it was stated: "Kate Bopp, election candidate for the upcoming General Election is raising the issue of Irelands’ [sic] archaic firearms legislation. “There are many issues with the current licensing system” says Mrs Bopp, but the main problem is that it is based on a “may issue” policy. There is no obligation on Garda Superintendents to issue a license even if the applicant meets all the criteria. The current approach is completely arbitrary. “This approach is wrong-footed and almost treats applicants as guilty until proven innocent”. What’s needed according to Mrs. Bopp is legislation that has a “must issue” policy ensuring that licenses are issued to all applicants unless there are valid reasons not to do so (such as mental health issues, record for violent criminal behaviour etc)...Bopp’s support of a revision of the current firearms legislation is part of her support for country sports. Country sport such as hunting, shooting and angling are a core part of rural life. Too many policies are driven by city-dwellers who think that meat is produced in factories and who are completely out of touch with nature and with reality. The pursuit of country sports has played a major part in ensuring the maintenance of valuable natural assets as well as animal species. “We're seeing more and more legislation from Dublin as well as from Brussels which show a heavy-handed approach and a ban rather than manage mindset”. Our government should work together with shooting organisations, farmer organisations and organisations such as the Countryside Alliance of Ireland to come up with a less restrictive and more coherent approach to country pursuits..." See the full statement at

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy (Fine Gael, Offaly):
In January 2013, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Agriculture "when approval will be granted on the applications submitted for ships for the live export of cattle; the number and type of animals to be transported; the reason for the delay in granting such approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter."

In October 2015, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Environment "if the local authorities hold a register of puppy breeders who have been found to be in breach of legislation but who have not received a conviction for animal cruelty; if such breeders can obtain a licence to continue breeding; if puppy breeders who have received a conviction for animal cruelty are allowed to obtain a licence to continuing breeding; and if he will make a statement on the matter."

Barry Cowen, TD (Fianna Fail, Offaly):
"I will not be supporting any upcoming bill seeking to ban hare coursing." Barry Cowen in an email to ICABS, 1st February, 2012.

"An Taoiseach's brother Barry Cowen has been appointed to the vacant General Manager position at Mullingar Greyhound Track. Cowen takes over as Sales, Commercial and Operations Manager at Mullingar Track next Monday...Cowen is a well known and successful greyhound owner and has been involved in the ownership of many of the very speedy Gilbeyhall greyhounds." Irish Examiner Thursday, November 04, 2010.

Clara Councillor Barry Cowen has refuted claims that recently proposed bills have a 'hidden agenda' in relation to the hunting industry. Cllr Cowen has issued a statement clarifying aspects of the two recently proposed Bills, the Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010 and Dog Breeding Bill. "Having recently attended a public meeting organised by RISE, I feel it necessary to re-affirm the Bills' contents and refute the claims by RISE that there is some wider agenda," commented Cllr Cowen..."RISE are wrong to suggest there is some wider agenda. Minister Gormley recently confirmed the legislation will not have any implications for other country pursuits such as fox hunting, hare hunting, hare coursing or deer stalking. This bill only affects those involved in stag hunting, any suggestion otherwise by RISE is misleading and false," remarked Cllr Cowen. "This bill is about ensuring the highest standard possible for our animals. The proposed legislation will not have any implications for other country pursuits such as fox hunting, hare coursing, fishing, deer stalking. All allegations that this is a threat to these industries is false," concluded Cllr Cowen. Offaly Express, May 11, 2010

"I know the [greyhound] industry and grew up with it and realise its potential. I grew up realising its impact on rural communities and its great social benefit. It has the potential to be exported and nobody should stand in the way of the Department, the Irish Coursing Club and the Irish Greyhound Board in exploring this to the utmost." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2010, 30th June 2011.

Christopher Fettes (Green Party, Offaly):
"I am indeed in favour of bringing an end to foxhunting and, especially, hare-coursing (just as I would like to see an end to the slaughter of animals for meat). The problem is in knowing how far to go in stopping people doing things without first convincing them that they are intensely undesirable." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Christopher Fettes is a founder member of the Irish Green Party/Comhaontas Glas, a prominent environmental campaigner, a founder of the Vegetarian Society of Ireland and a former chairman of the Anti-Vivisection Society.

Teresa Ryan-Feehan (Independent, Offaly):
"I am against fox hunting, hare coursing and any kind of sport that is cruel to animals." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

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