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Meath County Councillors should be ashamed of themselves
12 January 2012

ICABS has slammed Meath County Council for passing a motion which calls on the government to reverse the ban on staghunting. The motion was passed at the council's monthly meeting but is not expected to have any effect as both parties in government have already ruled out any reversal.

The banning of the cruel Ward Union in summer 2010 was overwhelmingly welcomed, not only by a majority in Meath but all over Ireland.

"Have the Councillors who voted to support this motion an iota of compassion for the deer who suffered at the hands of this hunt for a century and a half?" asked Aideen Yourell, spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports. "Clearly they are ignoring the wishes of the vast majority of decent, humane people in Co Meath, who are opposed to the Ward Union. These compassionless councillors are also turning their backs on the farmers and landowners who have endured trespass and nuisance caused by this hunt over the years."

ICABS pays tribute to those Councillors who voted against the motion and declared their opposition to hunting cruelty. Cllr Jimmy Fegan said he was voting against the motion because he "abhorred stag hunting" while Cllr Noel Leonard added that "I oppose stag hunting for the simple reason that it is cruel" and "there is no need for stag hunting in this day and age." He also made the point that "not one job has been lost as a result of the ban - the statistics are there to prove it."

We would certainly endorse Cllr John Farrelly's view that this shameful motion would have "no effect on the government", as the issue had not been agreed as part of the Labour / Fine Gael Programme for Government.

In November, a spokesperson for An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, dismissed claims by Shane McEntee TD that the Ward Union would be back. The spokesperson emphasised that there was "no such commitment in the Programme for Government" to reversing the ban and that "[Enda Kenny] would not resile from what's in the Programme for Government." (Source: Kenny rules out reversing stag-hunt ban, Irish Independent, November 08 2011).

A spokesman for Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan is also on record as confirming that "there isn't (a plan)" to reverse the ban and that "there is no legislation in the pipeline."

Meanwhile, Tanaiste and Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore has given several assurances that his party are against any reversal. "The Programme for Government contains no commitment to reverse the ban on stag hunting. The Labour Party position is as stated, we do not support reversal of the ban," he has said. His personal assistant later commented that "there is no plan to revisit the issue."

Sinn Fein are also against reversing the Ward Union ban. Spokesperson, Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh, confirmed in November that the party "will not be supporting the repeal of the ban on stag hunting". He said that Sinn Fein "consider stag hunting to be a bloodsport [that] causes the infliction of cruelty to animals".

The Socialist Party strongly oppose any reversal. Party TD, Clare Daly said: "We in the Socialist Party oppose stag hunting and the inherent cruelty of hunting animals purely for human enjoyment. We will oppose any attempt to overturn the ban from within the Dail."

So it is the view of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports that the case is now closed on the Ward Union deer hunt, and that the ban will not be reversed.

Politicians like Shane McEntee TD and members of Meath County Council who continue agitating for a reversal of the ban should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. It's now time for them to move on, respect the wishes of the electorate and accept that this hunting barbarity has no place in a civilised society.

The cruelty Meath Councillors want back

Slideshow: the cruelty of carted deer hunting

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