letter writing

Published letters

Please stop fox-hunting
(Irish Independent - July 16th, 2002)

Sir, In this age of bio-security when the ever-present threat of Foot and Mouth and BSE threatens the economic survival of farming, landowners would be well advised to refuse access to fox-hunts during the next hunting season.

With mounted riders and hunt hounds typically crossing up to 50 farm boundaries in a day, hunts pose a very serious threat in the spread of disease. Diseases such as Foot and Mouth, TB, Brucellosis, Liver Fluke, Leptospirosis, BVD, Trichinosis and Sarcocystosis can be carried from farm to farm by hunt members, hunt vehicles, foxhounds and on the hooves of horses. Furthermore, foxhounds are known to be carriers of infectious parasites that can prove fatal if passed on to livestock.

Landowners may also choose to keep the hunt out due to the damage caused to grass. Fox-hunting takes place during the winter months when land is at its wettest and most vulnerable, and wherever hunting takes place the poaching of land is sure to occur. Poaching not only has an immediate and visible impact on land but it also has an adverse effect on grass growth the following season.

There are no advantages in allowing a hunt onto your land. The facts show that fox-hunts impact negatively on farming interests and provide no useful service to the farmer. Those who wish to find out more are invited to contact us for a free copy of our "Troubled by the Hunt" leaflet or visit the farming section of our website at www.banbloodsports.com.

Philip Kiernan
Mullingar, Co Westmeath

TG4 promotes animal abuse
(Galway Advertiser - November 8th, 2001)

Dear Editor,

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is outraged that TG4 should see fit to broadcast an upbeat and promotional piece on live hare coursing in a new magazine programme entitled An Tuath Nua. The programme is made by Agtel Communications, the makers of Ear to the Ground. The item was broadcast on Saturday morning last. (We understand this was a repeat).

The tone and the tenor of the piece was upbeat with the presenter outlining the typical propaganda about hare coursing we all know so well. The programme as unashamedly biased and unbalanced, despite the fact that the producers had telephoned us when doing their research. We understood that they were to come back to us for a contribution, but failed to do so.

We saw scenes of hares being caught from the wild, with one coursing enthusiast declaring that the hares are frightened out of the grass; another of a hare held by the ears, having a syringe forced into its mouth and its feet dipped into disinfectant. We saw the usual scenes of hares being pursued by greyhounds to the accompaniment of rap music. This abuse was put forward by the programme makers in a positive and fun way, and amounted to nothing short of a promotion of animal cruelty in a way which utterly lacked compassion for the plight of this timid wild animal.

Tragically, this was put forward as a good country pastime for young people, with a young woman and man acting as spokespersons for the coursing club. The only hint of opposition came when the young man said that some people think it cruel, but they just don’t understand it. The problem for coursing people is that we understand it only too well!

We now call on TG4 and An Tuath Nua to redress the glaring bias/unbalance in this feature by giving us the opportunity to put our case which is supported by an overwhelming 80 per cent of the Irish public who oppose this cruelty.

Aideen Yourell, Spokesperson
Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Blood sports ignore FMD
(Sunday Independent - August 19th, 2001)

Sir - It would appear, according to Jerome Reilly's report ("FMD hasn't gone away, you know", Sunday Independent, August 12) that the blood sports fraternity, i.e. the foxhunters and hare coursers, are looking for a lifting of the temporary ban (due to foot and mouth) on their activities. We understand the hunters have made a submission to the Foot and Mouth Expert Group, looking for a "limited" form of cub and fox hunting.

The horrific activity of cub hunting, euphemistically termed "autumn hunting" by the hunters, is the practice of blooding the young hounds and training them to hunt and kill as a pack. Vulnerable fox cubs make easy prey for the hunters who flush them from their refuges, often digging them out.

We can see why being deprived of the cub hunting season could throw the foxhunting season out of kilter if the young hounds haven't learned to taste fox blood.

We are not surprised at the selfishness of the hunters, given the barbaric nature of their "sport". Despite the continued threat of foot and mouth, it seems that their vampirish blood lust over-rides the national interest.

Aideen Yourell, Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Horror for hares
(Evening Herald, January 2001)


I read Ben Quinn's article (January 3) about the killing of 22 hares at a coursing meeting in Co Limerick with dismay and disgust.

I cannot understand how anyone with any feeling for animals could possibly justify this. How can it be described as sport? It is time to place it in the dustbin of history.

VF McKeever, Dublin 14

Foxhunt, cattle liver fluke link
(Irish Post, December 2000)


The current weather Ireland is experiencing is threatening a severe fluke crisis on farms all across the country. There are doses available to combat fluke but I would suggest that prevention is better than cure.

One way for farmers to prevent liver fluke in cattle and sheep is to keep foxhunters off their land.

Mounted hunts leave trails of hoofprints across the countryside which form one of the favourite habitats of the snails which host the liver fluke parasite.

Liver fluke can cause severe illness and death among livestock and also increases their susceptibility to salmonella infection.

The acreage of hoof damage done by the country's hunts in the course of a season must be so vast as to be incalcuable.

Farmers seeking advice on the best way to keep hunters off their land are invited to contact the Irish Council Against Blood Sports for our free "Troubled by the Hunt" leaflet.


Letter about hunt chaos in Roscommon Town
(Town Crier column, Roscommon Champion, November 2000)

Dear Town Crier,

Full marks to the Town Crier for highlighting the nuisance created by the trailers and other vehicles so inconsiderately parked in the town centre and elsewhere by the visiting foxhunt on 29th October.

This overbearing approach by the mounted hunt is of course par for the course and is the source of complaint and grievance wherever the mounted hunt operates.

The recent experience is, however, mild compared to the usual form when hunts generally (not necessarily this one) frequently block main roads and decide who shall pass and when.

The behaviour is permitted only because these people are so superior to the riff raff who have the honour to host them. The superiority engendered by class, money and power thus compels farmers, whose fields are so sodden by rains that they must take off their own cattle, to allow a cavalry of 30-50 horses and up to 30 hounds to race through the fields.

Worse still, the possible repercussions in terms of the spread of disease are mind-boggling. But who cares as long as our native gentry have a good time? The fox, if it did not exist, would surely have to be invented to keep these people happy.

(Name and address with Editor)

Hunt witness
(The Irish Times, January 2000)

Dear Sir,

On Monday, January 3rd, I had the rare opportunity of being an unwilling spectator at a hunt.

While driving on secondary roads near my home in Limerick, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks and ordered to go back, as there was no way through. The road behind me also became blocked and I had no option but to pull in and wait.

I sat helplessly in my car, trapped on all sides, for at least half an hour, while an assortment of fat-arsed “aristocratic” riders ploughed their way through their badly parked vehicles. Mud splashed onto my face and clothing through the open window of my car, as their horses cantered past.

Excited voices of peasant supporters declared that there was “one hound on him” and “he’s gone under the road” at which point all attention turned to the field on my left. I watched while the bloodthirsty hounds and their human counterparts closed in on the prey as it made its final dash for life.

Was the victim of this Bacchic frenzy something fierce and monstrous? Could it be possible that this large lynching party was concentrating its collective effort on killing a defenceless fox? My eyes filled with tears as I wondered if the hounding of a human being in other circumstances could be met with such glee. My heart pounded at the injustice and barbarism of this blood lust.

I have always abhorred blood sports but never before has the injustice and arrogance of a situation moved me to write to you. If the tone of my letter seems querulous, it’s because I write with a heavy heart.

Anne Murray Browne, Limerick

Tally Ho Temperance
(Irish Independent, June 10, 1999)


The Pioneers are celebrating 100 years of abstinence from alcohol which they consider a great evil. However, they don' seem to see anything untoward about blood sports and animal cruelty as evidenced by the cover of the November issue of their flagship magazine "The Pioneer", which sports a picture of Stonehall Harriers' joint master, Michael O'Shaughnessy, bedecked in hunting regalia and mounted on horseback for a day's hunting foxes and/or hares.

An article inside boasts of how O'Shaughnessy celebrates his 50 years as a pioneer and also as joint master of the Limerick Stonehall Harriers. The article describes hunting as a "thrill for all" and refers to the fact that over the years, a priest and a minister were members of the hunt.

Presumably the pioneers consider it acceptable to hound, harass, torture and kill wild animals for "sport" as long as one is sober.

Aideen Yourell (ICABS)


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