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New Irish Farmers Association president is a bloodsports supporter
18 December 2013

The new Irish Farmers Association president, Eddie Downey, is a hunt supporter who gave his backing to the pro-bloodsports RISE campaign.

At a recent hunt in Co Meath, he was photographed shaking hands with hunters and thanking them for their support.

As deputy president of the IFA, Downey was one of the speakers at a 2010 RISE gathering in Waterford which protested against the Green Party's work to ban carted deer hunting.

In a statement headed "Pro-hunting campaign welcomes farming support", the RISE group claimed at the time that "Vice President of the Irish Farmersí Association, Eddie Downey, has given his organisationís support to the campaign. Mr Downey said the campaign to defend hunting and other traditional rural sports was an integral part of the wider battle to defend rural Ireland."

In response, ICABS highlighted to the IFA the appalling cruelty involved in blood sports and the fact that a majority of Irish people are opposed to these activities.

"It is highly inappropriate for the national farming organisation (which depends on this very majority to purchase its members' produce) to come out in support of animal cruelty," we stated in our 2010 letter. "As you are no doubt aware, the majority of farmers want nothing to do with hunts due to fears about disease spread, the disturbance of farm animals and damage to pastures and field boundaries."

Quoted in the Irish Times of May 4, 2010, a spokesman for the IFA denied that they have links with the RISE group. "They are a separate organisation," he said. "The IFA is a very separate organisation." In the same article, Socialist MEP Joe Higgins called on the IFA and the ICMSA to "carefully consider" whether they supported the hunt because farming organisations depended on "millions of us buying their produce".

According to a foxhunting website: "Eddie is a great supporter of hunting, shooting and fishing."

Downey is currently listed as chairman of pro-bloodsports IFA Countryside. In a message on its website, he says "As Chairman of IFA Countryside and Deputy President of IFA, I meet people outside farming all the time who live, work and enjoy the countryside. Many of these people are involved in rural pursuits such as walking, fishing and hunting. Rural people have a great interest and place great value on the environment and in recent years there has been a growing awareness of rural activities. Many people visit farmland as guests to enjoy their field sports such as walking, fishing or hunting."

Shamefully, some of Ireland's worst cruelty to animals - foxhunting, digging-out and terrierwork - are among the activities embraced by IFA Countryside.

 ACTION ALERT 

Plagued by hunts trespassing on your land? Please visit the Farmers section of our website for information and advice.

Video: Hunting cruelty

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