I support ban on Ward Union: Fianna Fail Cllr Noel Leonard
19 January 2010
ICABS has welcomed Fianna Fail Councillor, Noel Leonard's condemnation of the Ward Union and his announcement that he backs moves to ban the hunt. "I saw the hounds attack the hind quarters of the legs of the poor unfortunate stag," Cllr Leonard outlines in a statement published in the Meath Chronicle. "It's horrific to see the end of the hunt."
Please see below for the full text of Cllr Leonard's statement.
If you reside in the Dunboyne electoral area, or in County Meath, please send a message of thanks to Cllr Leonard. You can contact him via his website www.noelleonard.net
Noel Leonard and the case against stag hunting
Noel Leonard is hoping that sooner rather than later, the coalition government will get around to banning stag hunting.
Elected to Meath County Council as a Fianna Fail councillor for a second time in 2009, Leonard says he will have no problem giving his backing to the Green Party initiative.
Since he was very young, he has been staunchly against blood sports. Still is. He has not been slow in voicing opposition and he claims there is considerable support within Fianna Fail to ban stag hunting.
Leonard, who represents the Dunboyne area, is not convinced by the assertion by the Ward Hunt that they provide a huge benefit to the local economy and claims there is an alternative available - drag hunting.
"I've heard the arguments that stag hunting is brilliant for the racing industry, the national hunt, local economy and so on. I don't agree with that. I don't think there were any jobs lost in England when stag hunting was banned over there. They can hunt without a stag."
The Dunboyne councillor claims that the experience of watching a stag hunt as a youngster left an indelible impression on his psyche. "It left a terrible mark on me, the cruelty that is associated with both stag hunting and, indeed, fox hunting or any form of activity whereby hounds chase a dumb animal until it is exhausted.
"I don't care what they say, they can say they have a lot of things in place to ensure the stag doesn't suffer. That's ridiculous; of course the stag suffers.
"I saw the hounds attack the hind quarters of the legs of the poor, unfortunate animal. It's horrific to see the end of the hunt," he adds.
As a youngster, Noel Leonard remembers the hunt passing through land owned by his family, disrupting the quiet, rural countryside. "I saw my own mother trying to stop them and we were out as kids trying to stop them, the horses coming in where we had cows and calves, going through our fields and our neighbours' fields, without making any apology for anything."
Leonard points to the incident in Kildalkey a few years ago, when a stag ran through a schoolyard, as an example of how it can all go wrong. How a hunt can quickly turn into a health hazard.
He says that members of the public are invariably not around when the hunt ends, when the exhausted and frightened stag is surrounded by salivating hounds eagerly looking for something to eat.
"I know that, at least 24 hours before the stag is released, the hounds are starved, they are not fed so they go out there looking for a meal. They are keyed up because they are so hungry and chase the stag until he is overcome with exhaustion.
"Two years ago, I think it was, I came across a stag that was killed on the Summerhill Road, just outside Dunboyne. The children going home from school saw this, an animal dead on the side of the road. I rang the Ward Union Hunt, but they denied it had anything to do with them.
"When I looked into it further, I discovered the hunt was definitely in the area that day, they didn't catch their stag. What I believe happened was that they called off the hounds somewhere around Baytown Cross and the animal was so traumatised it kept galloping on through the fields. It eventually jumped out of the fields and onto the Summerhill road."
Leonard asserts that the deers are reared domestically and, as a result, are docile creatures who are suddenly turned into the wild and left to escape a pack of chasing hounds.
He adds that he knows "quite a few" members of Fianna Fail who had similar experiences as he had when it comes to stag hunting. Leonard says he wants it banned and will lend his support in the push to do just that.