Failte Ireland endorses blood sports festival
16 July 2004
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is today calling on Failte Ireland, the national Irish tourism agency, to immediately clarify its position in relation to its endorsement of a "Country Festival", scheduled to be held in Powerstown Park, Clonmel, in August.
(Update: It has since been revealed in an Irish Independent article that Failte Ireland has actually given funding to the festival via the Festival and Cultural Events Initiative. Please see below for extracts from this article).
An advertising flyer for this festival, which mentions "Hunts With Hounds" and "Coursing & Greyhounds", carries the Failte Ireland logo, and that of South East Tourism. We understand that also on show at this event will be lurchers and terriers which are used by thugs to cruelly hunt down and kill hares and foxes.
This festival is being organised by the UK-based Countryside Alliance in partnership with among others, the Irish Coursing Club, and the National Association of Regional Game Councils (gun clubs), and is a vehicle for the promotion, sanitisation and funding of cruel blood sport activities. We note that the event will include activities such as "rural crafts", "children's entertainment", "farmer's market", etc, which will act as a draw for the public and provide respectable "cover" for this cruelty promotion fest.
ICABS wrote to Failte Ireland twice in the last two weeks, and to date we have not had a reply. We also wrote to South East Tourism whose website carries an enthusiastic and upbeat promo for this festival.
Saying that Powerstown Park is an ideal venue because "race meetings and coursing events are held at Clonmel regularly", this promo suggests that the event will "create an opportunity for field sports enthusiasts and the general public to appreciate what Ireland has to offer in terms of countryside activities."
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of South East Tourism, Joe Palmer, has also praised the festival. Quoted in a Countryside Alliance/NARGC/Irish Coursing Club joint newsletter, Mr Palmer said: "Country festivals are an important part of the experience of Ireland and a well organised event such as the Clonmel Country Festival has the potential to add significantly to the visitor experience in the South East of Ireland."
Please contact Failte Ireland, South East Tourism and Clonmel Tourism and ask them to stop promoting blood sports. Considering that the vast majority of Irish people want blood sports banned, it is unacceptable for tourism bodies to be endorsing animal cruelty.
Mr Shaun Quinn,
Mr Joe Palmer,
Clonmel Tourist Office
To whom it concerns:
I am writing to you as one of the majority of Irish people who is opposed to blood sport cruelty. I wish to express my disappointment over the funding by Failte Ireland and South East Tourism of the Clonmel Country Festival. I understand that funds have been given to this festival via the Festival and Cultural Events Initiative.
It is regrettable that funding was given to the festival since it is being organised by groups involved in the terrorisation and killing of Irish wildlife, e.g. the Irish Coursing Club and the NARGC. Coursing, as you may be aware, is opposed by 8 in 10 Irish people; coursing clubs are responsible for removing an estimated 10,000 hares from the wild every year and forcing them to run for their lives in front of muzzled hounds. Members of NARGC kill tens of thousands of animals and birds every year; among their target species are cats, foxes and hares.
Regardless of whether or not blood sport activities will be taking place on the day of the Clonmel festival, the purpose of this event is to promote blood sports. According to an article in the Joint Fieldsports Newsletter, the festival organisers are "particularly keen to attract young people, to encourage them to participate in country pursuits; be it hunting, shooting, angling or working with dogs".
It is especially disappointing that events such as this are being presented as a tourist attraction when County Tipperary and the South West of Ireland have countless activities available for tourists. There is no need to promote animal cruelty. Blood sports are a blemish on Ireland's international reputation and it is irresponsible for a tourism body to in any way associate the country with them.
I appeal to South East Tourism to remove the listing for this festival from its website and to ensure that there is no further promotion of the event. I hope that you can consider my appeal and give a commitment that funding will never again be given to events related to animal cruelty.
Irish Independent article by Helen Bruce
Below are extracts from article which appeared in the Irish Independent Newspaper, 17th July 2004
Failte Ireland has supported the use of its funds for a country festival in Clonmel, in the face of opposition from anti-blood sports campaigners.
Money from the tourism body has reached the August 7 and 8 event in Powerstown via the Festival and Cultural Events Initiative. Under the scheme, cash is distributed to the regional tourism authorities, in this case South East Tourism, for use at their discretion.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports said it objected to the use of government money for a festival with a flyer featuring fox hunting and coursing with greyhounds. It claimed: "We understand that also on show at this event will be lurchers and terriers which are used by thugs to cruelly hunt down and kill hares and foxes."
A spokesperson for Failte Ireland responded that no fox hunting or hare coursing would take place at the festival, adding that the two sports were entirely legal.
The Advertisement Flyer
The advertisement flyer for Clonmel Country Festival. The images on the front include hunt hounds. Among the logos are those of the Irish Coursing Club and the NARGC. On the back of the flyer is a list which includes "coursing and greyhounds" and "Hunts with hounds". At the top right corner is the Countryside Alliance logo. On the bottom corners are the logos for South East Tourism and Failte Ireland.
Quotes from "Joint Fieldsports Newsletter" 2004
Joe Palmer, Chief Executive of South East Tourism said: "Country festivals are an important part of the experience of Ireland and a well organised event such as the Clonmel Country Festival has the potential to add significantly to the visitor experience in the South East of Ireland and it is anticipated over 15,000 people will attend the festival."
"The Tipperary Foxhounds will parade their pack of hounds [at the Clonmel Country Festival]."
"The organisers are particularly keen to attract young people, to encourage them to participate in country pursuits; be it hunting, shooting, angling or working with dogs."
Festival and Cultural Events Initiative 2004 Guidelines
According to an article in the Irish Independent, money from Failte Ireland "has reached the [Clonmel Country Festival] via the Festival and Cultural Events Initiative".
If you would like to view the initiative's guidelines in full, please view the Guidelines Document.
Among the guidelines are:
"The event must be a new or existing festival or cultural event, and must have either been involved in overseas marketing in the past or, in the case of new events, have plans for overseas marketing.
"The level of overseas interest in the event will also be of primary importance."
"...the primary function of the Initiative is to support marketing activities."
"Payment will be made after the event has taken place, on receipt of a satisfactory post event report and on the provision of all documentation as outlined in the letter of offer."
More Information: Coursing Cruelty
Ban Coursing Website: