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 Declan Bree (Independent, Sligo Leitrim):
"I am in favour of a ban on blood sports in Ireland. In a civilised society we should not authorise such cruel acts to occur and excuse it under a banner of 'sport', which it most certainly is not by any definition." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Finbarr Filan (Renua, Sligo Leitrim):
In a February 2016 telephone conversation with ICABS, Finbarr Filan said he has hunted in the past but has not taken part in hunting for 15 years. He said he would not support a ban on foxhunting. When told about drag hunting, the humane alternative to hunting live animals, he said he would support that. He also said he had no time for the digging out of foxes.

Nigel Gallagher (People Before Profit Alliance, Sligo Leitrim):
"I am opposed to all bloodsports. I am also opposed to wild animal circuses and favour a ban on them. I am also opposed to foxhunting and hare coursing. I love animals and if elected I will always work to improve the welfare of animals in Ireland." in reply to Maynooth University's Animal Rights Society.

Cllr Des Guckian (Independent, Leitrim County Council)
"Yes, I favour a ban on both hare coursing and foxhunting" in an email to ICABS, October 2014.

Cllr Martin Kenny (Sinn Fein, Leitrim County Council)

At a June 2010 meeting of Leitrim County Council, Cllr Kenny presented a motion in support of pro-bloodsports group, RISE: "I propose that Leitrim County Council notes the increasing level of popular support being expressed for the RISE (Rural Ireland Says Enough) campaign and shares the concerns it is highlighting, over legislation currently being proposed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley TD. This Council calls on the Government to listen to the concerns being expressed by those who engage in hunting..." The minutes of the meeting detail that Councillor Kenny claimed he is totally against cruelty to animals but that he went on to express opposition to legislation "if activities such as pheasant shooting, activities of the South Leitrim Harriers etc are curtailed or prevented."

Tony McLoughlin TD (Fine Gael, Sligo Leitrim):
"I couldn't look at the video [of an Irish hunter using live pigeons to train hunting dogs] as I find those videos distressing. I commend you for highlighting this issue and whatever I can do to advance your cause let me know." Tony McLoughlin TD in an email t+o ICABS, June 2013.

In March 2013, Tony McLoughlin 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.

Bernie O’Hara (Independent, Sligo Leitrim):
"I believe killing for sport is despicable and would love to see it banned." from an email to ICABS, February 2016.

Senator Susan O'Keeffe (Labour Party):
"I am not somebody who shoots, I am not a member of a gun club and I have never engaged in that activity, but I understand its importance in our traditions...If we encourage and support hunting we must do it in an appropriate way...Children who understand and appreciate the countryside can uphold the hunting laws in an appropriate way, as Senator Quinn noted, unlike other European countries where literally everything that moves is shot at. That is not the case in Ireland. If we are to have our hunting tradition, I hope and support that we would do it in an sustainable and appropriate manner. I welcome this amending legislation to ensure that those hunters who take part in hunting do so in a legal fashion." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012, 4th July 2012

John Perry, TD (Fine Gael, Sligo Leitrim):
In a statement delivered at a pro-hunt meeting in January 2008, John Perry, TD stated: "Outdoor leisure and recreational activities such as hunting, shooting and fishing are factors that are a fundamental and integral part of the rural lifestyle...I will maintain my pressure on this Government to have our rich rural heritage recognised, and indeed protected by legislation, rather than being threatened by it." Responding to a complaint from ICABS, Deputy Perry said that he continues to "feel strongly about animal welfare and conservation of our wildlife". "I note your comments and will keep them in mind for the future," he added.

This pro-hunting TD voted against the staghunt ban in June 2010.

Cllr Eamon Scanlon (Fianna Fail, Sligo County Council)
As a Fianna Fail TD in 2010, Eamon Scanlon voted in favour of the ban on carted deer hunting.

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