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Animals and the Presidential Election
06 October 2011

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Before you vote for Ireland's next president on October 27th, please ask each candidate where they stand on the issues of hunting and hare coursing. Tell them that they are more likely to get your vote if they are opposed to these activities which bring shame on our country.

Email/phone each candidate or speak to them in person if possible. Please let us know about feedback you receive by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Scroll down to read various quotes from the candidates which reveal their attitudes towards animal cruelty.

Presidential Candidates and Bloodsports

David Norris
Tel: 01 679 9088

"The spectacle of fox hunting is most attractive, although not for the fox...We must do something to root out the horrible practice of live hare coursing. There is simply no justification for it if we are concerned about the welfare of small animals. I believe it is bad for the moral welfare of the people who watch the sport. No decent person should take pleasure from the hunting to death of a small, frightened animal. I agree with Senator Mooney about education - it is an important element in encouraging people to respect wildlife." (16 November 2000).

"I heard a Member on the Government side attempt to defend the obscenity of coursing, which is indefensible." (Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Second Stage, 26 January 2010)

Michael D Higgins
Tel: 01 6784710

Michael D Higgins is a former vice-chairperson of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports.

"I must say it is absolutely outrageous to suggest that I and any Member of the Labour Party are in favour of cruelty to animals or bloodsports." Comment made during a debate on the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 which banned the Ward Union staghunt, 24 June 2010. While Labour Party TDs voted against the ban, Michael D Higgins, absented himself from the vote on medical grounds. Tommy Broughan TD also absented himself.

"Michael D Higgins has a long track record of commitment to the campaign against bloodsports."
Michael D Higgins Campaign Team, Oct 24, 2011

Dana Rosemary Scallon

In 2003, Dana confirmed that she is against bullfighting. The following is an extract from an edition of Animal Watch at the time:

Anti-cruelty campaigners are singing the praises of Dana Rosemary Scallon after she revealed her efforts to highlight the cruelty of bullfighting. In a letter to an ICABS supporter in Cork, the Connacht-Ulster MEP stated that she "has difficulty with this so-called sport" and has voiced her views to colleagues in the European Parliament. "Because of subsidiarity, i.e. the right of citizens in each member state to decide on what is lawful, or morally acceptable within their own country, it is not an easy matter to deal with this issue on a European level." she said. "However, I will continue to highlight your concerns and the fact that many people share them, including myself."

In 2004, Dana was one of a majority of Irish MEPs who responded positively to an ICABS appeal to sign a Written Declaration calling on the European Commission to introduce an EU wide ban on the trade in domestic dog and cat fur.

Gay Mitchell
Or email from:
Tel: 01 618 3727

In 2005, Gay Mitchell was one of 50 TDs who voted in favour of the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill. However, the Bill was sadly defeated when 62 Fianna Fail TDs, three Progressive Democrats and two Independents voted against it.

His personal views on bloodsports are unknown.

The Fine Gael party he represents is pro-bloodsports and have been heavily criticised for threatening to reverse a widely welcomed ban on cruel carted deer hunting. A spokesperson for the party is also on record as saying that "Fine Gael supports country sports [i.e. bloodsports]"

Mary Davis
Tel: 01 676 6631 / 086 3494246

In September 2003, ICABS contacted Special Olympics World Summer Games CEO, Mary Davis, in relation to the acceptance by the Special Olympics committee of donations from a foxhunting group. In a telephone conversation, ICABS spokesperson Aideen Yourell directly appealed to Mary to show compassion and refuse donations from groups involved in cruelty to animals. Mary's response was that the Special Olympics organisation is "apolitical" and would accept funds from any organisation as long as it was "legal". In a fundraising section on the Special Olympics website, hare coursing and fox hunting clubs were among the groups listed.

"This is indeed a sad state of affairs and a disappointing stance for your organisation to adopt, i.e. that it would seem that the Special Olympics fundraisers are turning a 'blind eye' to the barbarism that is foxhunting. In other words, it's okay as long as it's 'legal'. The suffering of the hunted animal does not count," ICABS stated in a letter to Mary.

Sean Gallagher
Tel: 01-554 2120 or 085 883 1155

Sean Gallagher and his campaign team have ignored requests for him to reveal his position on animal cruelty issues such as foxhunting and hare coursing.

Martin McGuinness
Tel: 01 8740194
Fax: 01 8749020

In the Northern Ireland assembly, Martin McGuinness and other Sinn Fein MLAs voted en bloc in favour of coursing and against protection for hares. They tried but thankfully failed to overturn an earlier decision by the Assembly to ban coursing. Sinn Fein has been strongly criticised for its pro-bloodsports stance.

"Martin McGuinness is not opposed to hunting and fishing or coursing generally, but believes that these practices are of value to local rural economies and communities and therefore must be regulated in the interests of wildlife sustainability and to prevent unnecessary cruelty...Martin is opposed to blood sports such as dog fighting, badger baiting, and cock fighting [ICABS Note: These blood sports are already illegal in Ireland], and believes there is a distinct difference between these cruel practices and those traditional occupations enjoyed by thousands of people on the island. Proposals to ban Hare Coursing while noble intent would drive the practice underground away from any regulation which is currently in place or could be imposed in future." From a statement from Martin McGuinness's National Campaign Office, 12th October 2011.

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