National Parks to remain hunter-free
04 March 2004
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has welcomed the news that Environment Minister, Martin Cullen, is to retain the policy of keeping hunters out of our national parks and nature reserves. The decision comes following a four year wrangle with the gun clubs who wanted the 30-year policy changed.
In 1999, the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) requested the then Minister with responsibility for wildlife, Sile De Valera, to reconsider this policy and she initiated a review into hunting on state lands. The review was carried out by consultants for the Heritage Service who advised in 2000 that no shooting should be allowed in national parks and nature reserves. Regardless, the NARGC continued to press for the policy to be changed.
On January 29th 2004, Minister Martin Cullen who is responsible for the national parks, wrote to gun club boss, Des Crofton, and told him that the no hunting policy was to remain. Among the reasons cited for the refusal were public safety and the protection of wildlife. Minister Cullen said that "the NPWS (National Parks & Wildlife Service) sites were acquired, using public funds, for the purpose of nature conservation and they should serve as refuges and breeding places for species of wildlife" and that "the general public understands that the role of NPWS is to protect wildlife and would view hunting on NPWS property as inconsistent with that role."
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports very much welcomes Minister Cullen's decision to stand firm against the gun clubs and keep our national parks hunter-free. We are much relieved that these sanctuaries for wildlife, of which there are precious few in this country, are kept safe and free from hunters. It would have been a retrograde step if this policy was overturned in the interests of gun men. We know that the vast majority of people would be horrified to have the peace and tranquillity that they have come to enjoy in our national parks shattered by gun fire.