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Health Service urged to end hare coursing project at Ballina centre
18 January 2017

ICABS is calling on the HSE to end a hare coursing project at its Ballina Training Centre for people with disabilities. In the "Mayo Mental Health News" newsletter, the cruel bloodsport was described as “the interesting new pastime offered by the Centre”. Ballina Councillor Gerry Ginty has spoken out against the HSE centre's facilitation of coursing, saying "it’s regrettable that this would be considered an appropriate past-time for service users" and expressing support for a ban on the activity. See below for reports from Daily Mail and MidWest Radio...

HSE under fire in hare coursing row
Irish Daily Mail, 16 January 2017

by Darragh McDonagh

A HSE-run centre for people with disabilities has caused outrage by involving vulnerable service users in the controversial sport of hare coursing.

The controversial activity has been facilitated by Ballina Training Centre, which provides therapeutic programmes and services for people with intellectual disabilities in Co Mayo.

It has emerged that staff and service users have been involved in training greyhounds for hare coursing and have even attended coursing events.

The HSE, which funds and runs Ballina Training Centre, has confirmed that the service has been supporting the activity for clients but added that this support did not constitute an endorsement or approval of hare coursing.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will face questions about the matter in the Dáil this week from Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who said that she was “appalled” that public resources were being used to expose vulnerable individuals to the controversial activity.

She added: "The coursing events they attended are the very places where independent documentary evidence of cruelty has been collected. It is absolutely outrageous."

A recent issue of an internal publication called Mayo Mental Health News contained an article outlining the involvement of staff and service users of Ballina Training Centre in hare coursing.

The article stated that two greyhounds had been purchased and were being trained for coursing by staff and service users. It also referred to hare coursing as “the interesting new pastime offered by the Centre” and provided details of two “outings” to coursing meetings last year in Liscannor, Co Clare and Loughrea, Co Galway.

A spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called for the project to cease immediately, adding: “The idea of bringing vulnerable people to hare-coursing meetings to watch hares being used as live bait for greyhounds is outrageous. It is a totally inappropriate project for the HSE to be involved in.”

The HSE initially denied that the activity was being facilitated at the Centre and claimed that it “does not and has never run a hare coursing activity for its service users”.

However, when evidence of the Centre’s involvement in the activity was presented, a HSE spokesperson confirmed the described activity was supported by the service.

The spokesman said: “The activities described were identified and developed solely by service users...The nature of such community-based activities are the prerogative of the individual(s) and is supported by the service only in the context of fostering recovery and promoting mental health.

“The support of clients by staff in their wellbeing and recovery does not constitute an endorsement or approval of any such activity.”

Ballina Councillor says it's regrettable that hare-coursing is being facilitated at a centre for people with disabilities
Midwest Radio, 17 January 2017

A Ballina councillor says it’s regrettable that hare-coursing is being facilitated at a centre for people with disabilities.

It emerged yesterday that staff and service users at the HSE-run Ballina Training Centre have been involved in training greyhounds for hare-coursing, and have attended coursing events.

The HSE confirmed that the service has been supporting the activity for clients, but added that this support does not constitute an endorsement or approval of hare coursing.

Ballina Independent Councillor Gerry Ginty, who’s involved with the horse and donkey sanctuary in north Mayo, says it’s unfortunate that hare-coursing is still legal in this country, as it’s illegal in many other countries including England, Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland.

Councillor Ginty said it’s regrettable that this would be considered an appropriate past-time for service users at the Ballina Training Centre, and said he’s totally opposed to the controversial sport.


Join us in contacting the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE to demand an immediate end to the Ballina Training Centre's involvement with cruel hare coursing.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris
Department of Health
Hawkins House
Dublin 2
Tel: 01 635 4000 or 01 618 3805
Comment on Facebook:
Tweet to @SimonHarrisTD

Tony O’Brien, HSE Director General
Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 635 2000
Tweet to: @hselive @dghealthservice
Comment on Facebook:
Callsave: 1850 24 1850

Ballina Training Centre (096) 71976

Join our protest against hare coursing outside Dail Eireann on Friday, January 27th, from 1pm to 3pm.
Facebook Event Page:

Mayo Mental Health News Article

Training started July 2015 with daily walks in the morning on the local golf course and the evening on the roads of Ardnaree.

The training became a communal undertaking as others began to join in the interesting new pastime the Centre offered. Eamon and Gerry took on the walking, with the guidance of Paddy of course, and later joined by John Doherty, another service user of the Centre.

Other staff members Brendan Mongan and Martin Gardiner got involved along with Gerard Murray, who kept a record of the progress of the dogs, the feed routine, and the weight and growth of the two dogs.

This regime continued up to April 2016 where the training was upped another notch. The two dogs were brought to run on Ross Beach below Killala twice a week to build up their muscles in anticipation of beginning Coursing Racing in August.

In June the dogs began training on the course in Tubbercurry, to get them accustomed to coursing tracks. A 400 metre uphill straight course that is well recognised as one of the best in Ireland. Notably, Jimmy Barry Murphy, a friend of Paddy and renowned Cork hurler runs his dogs there every January.

In July the breeder will take back to his kennels the bitch to continue her racing and hopefully will be a success also. Indeed, everyone is sure she will.

The training schedule has continued from April through to October with a mixture of morning and evening walks, beach runs and various runs and sprints on the dog track in Tubbercurry.

October/November: Our first outing was on Saturday 1st Oct in Liscannor Co Clare. Ardnaree Hill lost out the eventual winner of the Derby Stakes. Second outing was in Loughrea Co Galway on Saturday 29th October. Ardnaree Hill was off form and didn’t perform all that well as what we expected – part of the life of a dog trainer.

Training continues at higher pace with double gallops on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Paddy and Eamon have purchased a... coloured bitch from Co Kerry. Both dogs will train together and push each other further. Signs are positive and out next outing will be in two weeks in Athlone. The story continues...”

PHOTOS: (1) In the centre canteen with Anne Moran, Gerry McCreamor, Theo Burke, Mary Fox, Denis Mullarkey, Louise Coen, Bridget Duffy, Paddy Donnelly, Eamonn McLoughlin, Anne Bilbow, Anne McDermott. (2) Justin Howley, Joe Brogan, Theo Burke, Martin Healy, Paddy Donnelly, Mary Fox, John Doherty, Eamonn McLoughlin, Anne Bilbow, John Fox, and Gavin Duffy [At an outing to a track].

Videos: Ireland's cruel hare coursing

A hare is severely mauled and carried off a field in Loughrea, County Galway. A Ballina Training Centre greyhound was entered into this cruel event.

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