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Coursing views voiced during Dail debate
14 June 2006

Coursing is a medieval and cruel practice which should be banned outright. An industry based on cruelty and exploitation should not be allowed to continue as it is. Just some of the views expressed in the Dail this month about hare coursing.

Speaking on 8th June during a Dail debate on the Greyhound Industry (Doping Regulation) Bill 2006, a number of TDs made references to the blood sport.

ICABS Vice-president, Tony Gregory, stated that the "Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare". Dublin North Central TD, Finian McGrath, described coursing as the downside of the greyhound industry while Paul Nicholas Gogarty of the Green Party highlighted how, despite the muzzling of greyhounds, hares continue to die. He also spoke about the majority opposition to hare coursing in Ireland and the humane alternative of drag coursing.

Those who spoke favourably about the blood sport were Sean Power, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children and Tipperary South TD, Seamus Healy. Meanwhile, Fine Gael's Tom Hayes claimed that the reason coursing gets bad press is because of "a lack of knowledge".

Please read on for the comments in full.

Sean Power, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Fianna Fail, Kildare South):
"I was a greyhound owner in the past and my family was involved down through the years in the industry. I like a night at the dogs. In recent years, the issue of clerical abuse has received a great deal of publicity. However, as a former altar boy, my experience of the church was much different. I was an altar boy to a priest who loved both horse and greyhound racing and I had the pleasure of travelling around the country to attend horse and greyhound race meetings and even the odd coursing meeting. I learned a great deal and my experience with this priest was joyous and educational. I am grateful for the education I received about greyhounds and horses."

Seamus Healy, TD (Independent, Tipperary South):
"This is a small but important industry, particularly in the area from where I come in south Tipperary in which the Clonmel track is located and which hosts the national coursing festival each year. The greyhound and coursing industries are important and give much employment and support to other industries and business in the town of Clonmel and much enjoyment and sport to the many people involved at all levels."

Finian McGrath, TD (Independent, Dublin North Central):
"I support the plan to end doping and rigging of greyhound races. I demand standards in the industry to root out doping and sleaze. Although it is an important social and family event, the downside of it is coursing, on which we need a debate."

Tony Gregory, TD
"The Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare...This Bill is welcome if it can clean up one corrupt aspect of the greyhound industry." (Independent TD, Tony Gregory, 8th June 2006)

Tony Gregory, TD (Independent, Dublin Central):
"Live hare coursing a medieval and cruel practice is still legal and should be banned outright as has been done in more advanced countries. Even the most prominent owners and trainers are involved in doping. The dog that won the coursing greyhound of the year award, Boa Vista, is owned by Vinnie Jones and others. It also won the Irish Cup 2005-06, sponsored by J.P. McManus, receiving prize money of 80,000. It tested positive for a banned drug following that win but we still do not know what drug was involved. The Irish Coursing Club is a law unto itself and is not fit to regulate anything involving animal welfare...This Bill is welcome if it can clean up one corrupt aspect of the greyhound industry. Regrettably, the industry is riddled with corrupt practices and a complete investigation into all aspects of the industry is needed. I refer in particular to the illegal, disgraceful practice of blooding greyhounds with live rabbits, hares and kittens. RTE ably exposed these practices some time ago."

Paul Nicholas Gogarty, TD (Green Party, Dublin Mid-West):
"Greyhounds must compete on merit and should not race after taking painkillers or other drugs to boost performance. Much concern has been expressed about the health and safety of the greyhounds but only a handful of Deputies have referred to the health and safety of hares. Deputy Gregory referred to the continuing practice of blooding and cruelty to dogs. Greyhounds are treated as commodities and put down once they have outlived their usefulness. The same applies to hares. Even in the regulated system where dogs wear muzzles, hares are held for up to six weeks and may be killed by stress or mauling during coursing meets.

"I have nothing against the greyhound industry per se. I acknowledge that a night at the dogs could be an enjoyable event but not at the expense of unnecessary cruelty and mistreatment of animals. Studies have shown that drag coursing provides a similar training for dogs without cruelty to hares.

"Notwithstanding the manner in which dogs are treated, a societal issue must be addressed. Many Deputies and well-heeled members of society enjoy going to the dogs and buying dogs. I am sure they would not condone the use of animals as commodities or cruelty to animals but this happens in the greyhound industry. Surveys show that 75% of people living in the countryside and 90% of those in cities oppose hare coursing, a considerable amount. The sport has blood on its hands and is under a cloud, irrespective of the contents of the Dalton report. An industry based on cruelty and exploitation should not be allowed to continue as it is."

Tom Hayes, TD (FG, Tipperary South):
"The greyhound and coursing industries have been getting bad press due to a lack of knowledge."

Finian McGrath, TD
"I support the plan to end doping and rigging of greyhound races. I demand standards in the industry to root out doping and sleaze. Although it is an important social and family event, the downside of it is coursing, on which we need a debate." (Independent TD, Finian McGrath, 8th June 2006)

Action Item

Please contact Environment Minister, Dick Roche, and demand an end to coursing in Ireland. Tell the Minister that hares should be allowed to live free from the cruelty of coursing. Please also contact your local TDs and urge them to work for an end to coursing and all blood sports.

Minister Dick Roche
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1

Tel: +353 (0)1-8882403
Fax: +353 (0)1-8788640
Email: minister@environ.ie

Write to your TD at:
Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 337 889.

Write to your Senator at:
Seanad Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-618 3000 or 1890 732 623.

For the names and contact details of politicians, please visit the Irish Government Website at www.irlgov.ie.

Photos and Video: Coursing Cruelty

Please visit our Videos and Gallery pages to view video footage and photographs of hare coursing cruelty in Ireland.

Hare being mauled by greyhound
Fine Gael TD, Tom Hayes, believes that the coursing industry gets bad press, not because of the type of appalling cruelty shown in this photograph, but because of "a lack of knowledge".


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