Minister urged to stand firm on state lands policy
22 December 2004
Environment Minister, Dick Roche, has been urged to stand firm on the policy of "no hunting" on state lands. Earlier this year, it was announced that the policy would definitely remain but ICABS has learned that the Minister is to hear another appeal from wildlife shooters on January 17th, 2005. During the meeting, the National Association of Regional Game Councils (Gun Clubs) will again put their case for access to hunt and shoot wildlife in our national parks and nature reserves.
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports heaved a sigh of relief last January when Minister Roche's predecessor, Martin Cullen, made a definitive decision not to allow hunting in state lands for very good reasons. These reasons were outlined by his Private Secretary, Conor Falvey, in a letter to NARGC's Des Crofton. But now, it would seem, the shooters have emerged once again to pose a threat to our vulnerable wildlife which, sadly, have precious few refuges available to them in this country. Ireland's national parks constitute a mere 1 per cent of the total land area of Ireland, and it is imperative that these few areas of sanctuary are kept hunter-free.
The background to this issue extends back to 1999 when the gun clubs requested the then Minister, Sile De Valera, to reconsider the long-standing policy of no hunting on state lands. There followed a review by the Heritage Council who advised that no shooting should be permitted in national parks. A senior National Parks and Wildlife Service official, Barry Murphy, summed it all up when he said that "hunting with guns is not the way to go in areas of refuge for wildlife where people go to be close to nature."
In a letter to Minister Roche this week, ICABS urged him to keep the state-owned lands free from animal persecution. "The general public, families, etc visit the national parks for peace, beauty, tranquillity and to enjoy the flora and fauna," we outlined. "Most people would be horrified and outraged to have the peace and serenity that they have come to experience and enjoy in the parks shattered by gun fire. Even being aware of any hunting being allowed in the national parks would spoil it for many prospective visitors."
Urgent Action Item
Please immediately contact Minister Roche and appeal to him to keep the policy of "no hunting" on state lands. Tell him that the state's wildlife parks and nature reserves are havens for wildlife and should never be open to those who kill animals for sport.
Minister Dick Roche
Dear Minister Roche,
I understand that you are meeting with representatives of the National Association of Regional Game Councils on January 17th.
I implore you to refuse any request for changes to be made to the current policy of "no hunting" on state lands. These important lands represent one of the few remaining havens for Irish wildlife. Those who kill animals for sport should NEVER be permitted access.
In January 2004, your predecessor, Martin Cullen, made a definitive decision not to allow hunting in state lands for very good reasons.
I sincerely hope that you will stand by this and keep our state lands off-limits to hunters.
Thank you very much.