Bloodsport cruelty in Ireland - where do Senators stand?
The views of Senators in relation to hare coursing, foxhunting and other animal cruelty issues. Please contact your anti-blood sports Senators and praise their support for efforts to get hunting and coursing banned. If your representative is in favour of animal cruelty, please let them know that their stance will affect your future voting decisions.
To see the views of other politicians, please visit our Political Views page.
Senator Catherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail, Dublin)
"Yes [I am in favour of a ban on foxhunting and hare coursing]." Cllr Catherine Ardagh (Dublin City Council) in a tweet to ICABS, October 2014.
Senator Ivana Bacik (Labour Party, Dun Laoghaire):
"I am asking you to refuse a licence to the Ward Union deer hunt," Senator Bacik stated in a letter to Environment Minister, John Gormley. "The Irish Council Against Blood Sports are mounting a campaign against this, which I support." (October 2007)
ICABS has thanked Senator Ivana Bacik for refusing to vote against a ban on the Ward Union. The Irish Times has reported that the Labour Party senator abstained in a Seanad vote on the Wildlife Amendment Bill. 01 July 2010. Read More
Senator Frances Black (Independent):
"I was delighted to attend the press conference today to support the bill to ban hare coursing" - Senator Frances Black, June 21st 2016.
In 2011, singer Frances Black was one of 37 who signed a letter published in the Irish Times, condemning cruelty to Irish greyhounds and calling on the Department of Agriculture to stop plans by the Irish Greyhound Board to develop and manage greyhound racing tracks in China.
Senator Victor Boyhan (Independent):
As a councillor in 2010, Victor Boyhan expressed support for a ban on the Ward Union. "I am absolutely against this horrific activity," he stated, branding the deerhunters a "barbaric lot". In November 2014, he voted against a council motion which described urban foxes as a "problem" and which called for action to be taken to deal with them.
Senator Paddy Burke (Fine Gael):
"I have no doubt that the ban on coursing in England will be lifted" (Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010)
Senator Paddy Burke: "It is obvious that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government did not engage in discussions with the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation, the coursing clubs and the other organisations represented here. A commonsense approach must now be taken and the Minister must meet those groups so that agreement can be reached." Joint Committee on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, 11th May 2010.
Senator Ray Butler (Fine Gael):
Senator Ray Butler shamefully conveyed "best wishes" to cruel hare coursers. In the booklet for the Trim coursing meeting on November 4-5 2017, the Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection placed an ad which included the message "best wishes to Trim coursing club from Senator Ray Butler"
In March 2013, Meath West TD Ray Butler voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban on some of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals - foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling, fur farming and the use of animals in circus performances.
"I have been involved in greyhound racing all my life, it is in my blood. I have trained, raced and bred greyhounds. The greyhound industry employs 10,500 people, part-time and full-time. That is why the Government provides significant funding because the industry is both a significant employer and revenue stream for the Government. In some areas greyhound racing is like the GAA club because local people have their coursing dogs and greyhounds...With regard to the drugs situation, most owners and breeders say the fines do not fit the crime and the system used on the track and at coursing meetings will have to change." Ray Butler, Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Indecon Report: Bord na gCon, 21 October 2014.
According to a July 2012 Irish Examiner report, Ray Butler TD organised and was a member of a 14-man syndicate of Fine Gael TDs who "stumped up €250 each for a share in [greyhound] Swift Starlet after the 17-month-old bitch showed impressive form at recent trials." The Irish Greyhound Board website shows that Swift Starlet was entered into 65 races between July 2012 and August 2014 and won 7. The total prize money is listed at €2,179. Her last race was at Mullingar greyhound track on 30th August 2014 when she came last. What happened to her after that remains unknown.
Senator Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael):
"The Government is committed to the greyhound industry and has committed €16 million this year under the horse and greyhound fund. It is disappointing to see this type of action being taken out of frustration. I agree with Senators Landy and Coffey that the greyhound industry is important and we need to see this issue resolved as soon as possible." Seanad debate, 16 February 2017.
In March 2013, Jerry Buttimer TD voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban on some of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals - foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling, fur farming and the use of animals in circuses.
"I have been watching the proceedings on the monitor and as the person whose house is closest to a greyhound track, I welcome the members of the Irish Greyhound Board and commend them on the work they are doing. It is a challenging environment, whether as a trainer, an owner, a breeder or in management." Jerry Buttimer, Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, 20 October 2015.
According to a July 2012 Irish Examiner report, Jerry Buttimer was part of a 14-man syndicate of Fine Gael TDs who "stumped up €250 each for a share in [greyhound] Swift Starlet after the 17-month-old bitch showed impressive form at recent trials." The Irish Greyhound Board website shows that Swift Starlet was entered into 65 races between July 2012 and August 2014 and won 7. The total prize money is listed at €2,179. Her last race was at Mullingar greyhound track on 30th August 2014 when she came last. What happened to her after that remains unknown.
"As someone who has had a family involvement in greyhounds over the years, I think it is important that we understand the massive economic activity that the greyhound industry generates in Ireland...We must examine the issue of making greyhound racing and horse racing sustainable in this country. We must look at the betting industry here." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011, 30th June 2011.
"I support the rights of those involved in an industry and a sport which creates jobs and does no harm. On any greyhound track one will see people who are creating employment. Greyhound owners and trainers are decent, honourable and hard-working." Seanad debate, Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010.
"Many people in this House are involved in and support the greyhound industry. They are appalled at what they saw on "Prime Time Investigates" and do not condone it in any shape or form." Seanad debates, 27 June 2019.
Senator Paudie Coffey (Fine Gael, Waterford):
During a Dail debate on Maureen O'Sullivan TD's bill to ban hare coursing (23 June 2016), Joe Carey TD revealed that Paudie Coffey is part a syndicate which owns a greyhound used in cruel hare coursing - "Last year’s coursing season was very exciting for me. I attended a lot of meetings and had some success as part of the Déise-Banner syndicate. We won the Dungarvan bitch trial stake and qualified for the national meeting in Clonmel with our dark brindle bitch called Clodagh River. She was bred and reared by a great friend of mine, Shane O’Gorman from Portlaw in County Waterford who is also part of the syndicate as is Senator Paudie Coffey..." See the full speech: Video | Text
In March 2013, Paudie Coffey TD voted against an amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to outlaw fur farming in Ireland.
According to a July 2012 Irish Examiner report, Paudie Coffey was part of a 14-man syndicate of Fine Gael TDs who "stumped up €250 each for a share in [greyhound] Swift Starlet after the 17-month-old bitch showed impressive form at recent trials." The Irish Greyhound Board website shows that Swift Starlet was entered into 65 races between July 2012 and August 2014 and won 7. The total prize money is listed at €2,179. Her last race was at Mullingar greyhound track on 30th August 2014 when she came last. What happened to her after that remains unknown.
"Can the Minister reassure the House that in his tenure as the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, he will not bring forth any legislation that will affect the hunting of foxes, coursing or any other shooting or hunting pursuits that are traditional in Ireland? Can he give a categorical assurance today that this will be an end to it?...The Ward Union Hunt has been a responsible organisation in carrying out its pursuits and activities. It has always complied with regulations and the licensing conditions put on it. Much of its resources and those of the State were used to ensure it carried out its activities in a proper way." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Committee Stage, 2nd July 2010
"Those involved in these rural pursuits [e.g. hunting] are not breaking any law; they are only doing what previous generations did. They are concerned that the Bill will affect the viability of these pursuits, in the process threatening their existence. I can appreciate their concerns, which is why we have tabled amendments to protect an indigenous industry that dates back many generations." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9th March 2010
"I was in Clonmel [at the hare coursing finals] and I did not witness any animal cruelty that you refer to." (a tweet from Paudie Coffey to ICABS, February 13th, 2014.
Senator Paul Coghlan (Fine Gael):
"The Minister of State is a reasonable man and he will accept how well regulated is the coursing industry." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010
Senator Paul Coghlan raised the hackles of one of the Green's new twin babies in the Seanad on Thursday when he declared that Fine Gael is "completely opposed" to John Gormley's proposed ban on stag hunting. "It is a legitimate and worthwhile country pursuit and a sport that is highly beneficial for tourism. I cannot discern where cruelty is involved," he said, much to the disgust of Senator Niall O Brolchain. (The Irish Times - February 27, 2010)
Senator Martin Conway (Fine Gael)
"The Primetime documentary on what is happening in the greyhound industry was quite appalling and I would support calls for the Minister to come to the House to make a statement on the matter." Seanad debates, 27 June 2019.
Senator Rose Conway-Walsh (Sinn Fein)
"Yes [add me to the list of Sinn Fein politicians in favour of a ban on bloodsports]" Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh in a tweet to ICABS, June 2015.
Senator Paul Daly (Fianna Fail)
Paul Daly was nominated to the Seanad's Agriculture panel by the Irish Thoroughbreds Breeders Association.
"Another sport I have a great interest in is that of horse racing, and with horse racing playing a big role in our community it is a great honour for me to be Chairman of the Kilbeggan Race Committee." - Senator Paul Daly.
"It is with a heavy heart that I must discuss the horrific and very distressing scenes broadcast last night. I welcome the recent introduction of the Greyhound Racing Act 2019. I know that the legislation is in its infancy and probably has not reached full fruition yet. However, it gives the power to the Irish Greyhound Board and Bord na gCon and, indeed, the Irish Coursing Club, ICC, to enact far greater traceability methods within the greyhound industry and the studbook. It is vitally important that this is acted on immediately. There needs to be full traceability from a greyhound's birth until its death and every movement needs to be recorded. I know that no licences have been granted to export greyhounds to either China or Pakistan but they are getting there through the back door. I insist that no licences are granted if applications are received... The content of the programme that was broadcast last night was horrific and distressing. Everybody here knows that I am into greyhound racing and horse racing so I know that the vast majority of people who are involved in both sports love their animals like they would a human being. Unfortunately, a small minority of people bring things down and I hope there is not a kneejerk reaction to the programme. There needs to be swift and immediate action. We cannot legislate for what goes on in China and Pakistan other than try to keep our dogs out of there. I want to stress for the benefit of the Minister that what we witnessed happening in Irish knackeries that was broadcast last night was a total disgrace and is unacceptable behaviour, which is something we can act on. I plead with the Minister to take action as early as this morning on reviewing the re-licensing of any Irish knackery that performs in a fashion that was witnessed last night on television. It was utterly deplorable and disgraceful and put us to shame. In fact, it put us in the same window as the Chinese and Pakistanis, which is unacceptable and something we can act on. That is the first piece of action that needs to be taken on the back of last night's programme." Seanad debates, 27 June 2019.
Senator Maire Devine (Sinn Fein)
"Tá [add me to the list of Sinn Fein politicians in favour of a ban on bloodsports]" from a tweet from Cllr Maire Devine to ICABS, June 2015.
Senator Alice Mary Higgins (Independent):
In June 2016, Senator Alice Mary Higgins attended a press conference in Dublin to support Maureen O'Sullivan TD's announcement of a bill to ban hare coursing. Holding a copy of the ICABS "Ireland's cruel bloodsports" leaflet, she posed for a photograph next to our "Ban Hare Coursing" placard.
In November 2018, Senator Higgins expressed support for a ban on cruel fur farming in Ireland. "Happy to support the #furfreeireland campaign!" she tweeted.
"Animal welfare is a pressing issue right now. I believe it needs to be treated exceptionally." Greyhound Racing Bill 2018: Report Stage, 29 November 2018.
"I do not like to think of greyhounds as a product because they are fellow creatures, but life-cycle planning is now recognised as a key aspect of all industries. It is important that those who wish to ensure they are dealing with participants in the greyhound industry who have ethical practices can be assured that this ethical practice extends beyond the working lifetime of a dog. I would like the Minister of State to indicate that he will work with us to ensure the welfare of the animals is given due regard and guidance is provided for when they are no longer racing or working. This is a humane and appropriate thing to do in animal welfare terms and it sends an important signal...It has been outlined that there are serious animal welfare concerns in respect of the use of drugs in the industry... It is grotesque intentionally to subject animals to prohibited or controlled substances that nobody would give to a pet or put into anyone's body." Greyhound Racing Bill 2018: Committee Stage, 15 November 2018
"Ireland has a number of birds on the red list. These birds are at risk of absolute extinction. The birds on the list include the barn owl, the yellow hammer and the curlew. There are 150 nesting pairs of curlews. That is all we have of the curlew in Ireland. What guarantees do we have? Will we check after two years to see whether we still have 150 pairs of curlews? Maybe we will have five, maybe we will have none or maybe we will have lost another species of great deep historical significance and resonance in Ireland. We could also talk of the golden plover and the meadow pippet. These birds are on the red list as well. Then there are many birds and species on the amber list and they are vulnerable too. What is the projection of the number of our birds and animals that are now in jeopardy and that will move into the endangered category over a two-year period?" Heritage Bill 2016: Committee Stage, Seanad Eireann, 9 November 2016
Senator Alice Mary Higgins is a daughter of President Michael D Higgins (who is a former vice-chairperson of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports)
Senator Frank Feighan (Fine Gael):
In March 2013, Frank Feighan TD voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban on some of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals - foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling, fur farming and the use of animals in circuses.
According to a July 2012 Irish Examiner report, Frank Feighan was part of a 14-man syndicate of Fine Gael TDs who "stumped up €250 each for a share in [greyhound] Swift Starlet after the 17-month-old bitch showed impressive form at recent trials." The Irish Greyhound Board website shows that Swift Starlet was entered into 65 races between July 2012 and August 2014 and won 7. The total prize money is listed at €2,179. Her last race was at Mullingar greyhound track on 30th August 2014 when she came last. What happened to her after that remains unknown.
"Great news for Roscommon Racecourse - €370,000 in development funding from Horse Racing Ireland. Well deserved." from a Frank Feighan tweet in July 2015.
In 2010, Frank Feighan TD voted against the ban on carted deer hunting.
"Last night I watched the RTÉ 'Prime Time' programme on the horrific events in the Irish greyhound industry. As many as 16,000 greyhounds are born every year and 6,000 of them are killed because they are simply not fast enough. There is serious concern about this issue. I ask the relevant Minister to come in here to alleviate our concerns about the greyhound industry that receives so much State funding. I know what was featured in the programme is perpetrated by a minority of people in the greyhound industry. A traceability system has been put in place but our concerns need to be alleviated. I am somebody who enjoys a flutter on the greyhounds. Last Tuesday, I was in Shelbourne Park to watch the greyhound racing and racing is a nice night out. I noticed that between 80% and 90% of the crowd were German, Russian and American tourists who travelled to the venue by bus. However, unless the abuse of greyhounds is dealt with in an open and transparent way by the Irish greyhound industry, the Government and the Minister, attendances at greyhound race tracks could be affected. I hope that there is openness and transparency and that the horrific murder of 6,000 greyhound pups every year will stop." Seanad debates, 27 June 2019.
Kevin Humphreys (Labour Party):
"The Minister of State is well aware of the shock and upset caused by the sudden closure of Harold's Cross greyhound stadium and the lack of consultation with dog owners on the issue. That issue must be dealt with over a period of time. A number of part-time workers have been in contact with me to say they are losing significant earnings because of the reduced crowds as a result of the protests at Shelbourne Park." Senator Kevin Humphreys, Seanad debate, 21 March 2017.
In March 2013, as a Labour Party TD for Dublin Bay South, Kevin Humphreys voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban on some of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals - foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling, fur farming and the use of animals in circus performances.
Senator Denis Landy (Labour Party)
Denis Landy was nominated to Seanad Eireann by the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation which supports greyhound racing and hare coursing.
Denis Landy was slammed in February 2015 for praising the organisers of Clonmel's coursing cruelty festival and describing the chasing of live hares with greyhounds as “fantastic sport”. Speaking in Seanad Eireann, he stated: “I congratulate and commend all those involved in the running of the 90th national coursing meeting in Clonmel.” Read More
"Out for a walk just heard the sound of the hounds and bugle in the distance - winter has truly arrived" Senator Denis Landy in a tweet, 27 October 2013. ICABS asked Senator Landy if he happened to also hear the cries of a fox when knocked to the ground and torn apart by hounds.
Senator Padraig MacLochlainn (Sinn Fein):
In a January 2016 Dail question, Padraig MacLochlainn TD referred to the hunting and shooting of animals as "sporting and leisure activities" and asked the Minister for Arts and Heritage to address the concerns of those involved - "To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she is aware of the grievance within some rural communities that responsibility for sporting and leisure activities such as dog trials, shooting and game hunting in bogs and other State owned lands, passed from the Land Commission to the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2000, without any consultation; and if she will ensure that the concerns of those rural communities are heard and acted upon."
"Councillor Padraig MacLochlainn said dog owners 'have a responsibility' to ensure their dog is kept under control. He said: 'It gets a laugh when it is raised but its very, very serious matter. There are children playing around that Green and there's a real risk of toxoplasmosis, which leads to the loss of sight - it's a serious health risk...Dog owners have a responsibility, nobody is allowed to have a dog out without a leash, it is a very, very serious matter.'" Dogs fall foul of local councillors, The Inish Times, 2007
"Colr MacLochlainn added: 'The law states clearly that dogs should be tied up and locked up, not roaming the streets. I am a dog lover myself, but it is the responsibility of the dog owners to look after their dogs - and make sure this does not happen again. They have a responsibilty to young children.'" Calling time on stray dogs, Derry Journal, 31 August 2007
Senator Gabrielle McFadden (Fine Gael):
Gabrielle McFadden has not responded to enquiries from ICABS about where she stands on foxhunting and hare coursing.
"I have two racetracks in my constituency, one privately owned and one not. My family raised greyhounds when I was growing up so I have a grá [love] for it. I felt a little bit annoyed listening to the opening statements of Ms Larkin and Mr Meaney. Those who run the racetracks, who train and own dogs, work very hard to keep the industry going, to keep it competitive and preserve it as a form of entertainment for others..." Gabrielle McFadden TD, Public Accounts Committee, Bord na gCon Financial Statements 2014, 26 November 2015.
In December 2016, Senator McFadden voted to approve a government grant of €80 million to the Horse and Greyhound Fund, i.e. €16 million to the Irish Greyhound Board and €64 million to Horse Racing Ireland.
As a TD in November 2015, Gabrielle McFadden asked the Minister for Justice and Equality "her views on the concerns of a company (details supplied) regarding delays in the processing of applications for licences to import and export non-military firearms for its hunting and fishing business" and "the average time it takes for the firearms section of her Department to process applications for import and export licences for non-military firearms; if she is satisfied that there is sufficient staff to process such applications."
"I want to make it very clear that while, like everybody else, I want to protect birds and wildlife, the protection of people's homes and livelihoods must take priority." Flooding: Statements, Dáil debates, 13 January 2016
Senator Michelle Mulherin (Fine Gael, Mayo):
In March 2013, Michelle Mulherin TD voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban on some of Ireland's worst acts of cruelty to animals - foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling, fur farming and the use of animals in circus performances.
In a Senate speech in December 2016, Senator Michelle Mulherin recommended that "Seanad Eireann approves the following Regulations in draft: Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2016". The fund amounted to €80 million of taxpayers' money, i.e. €64 million to horse racing and €16 million to greyhound racing. In a Seanad speech, Senator Mulherin (Fine Gael's Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture) stated: "It is fantastic that the tradition of horse racing and greyhound racing, which have been with us for centuries as part of our history, is to the fore and we can present ourselves on an international stage."
Michelle Mulherin TD has made representations on behalf of ICABS to Minister Simon Coveney (in relation to cruel terrierwork and digging-out).
Senator Ronan Mullen (Independent):
"I'm with you. I'm opposed to hare coursing" - stated to a member of ICABS during an anti-coursing protest outside Dail Eireann, 21st July 2016.
"It is sadly the case that a gentleman who was found by the Australian greyhound authorities to be using live animals for baiting and who was barred from working for the industry in Australia, and who I believe was barred in England also, is back working in a kennel in Ireland. I wonder whether the Minister of State is aware of that and if he is, what has he done to ensure that such a man will have no contact with the industry? I understand that an RTE "Prime Time" programme to be broadcast next week will deal with the greyhound industry. There are significant issues of public concern, given that this is an industry that is being funded to the tune of €16 million a year. That is the figure given annually to Bord na gCon, which has the responsibility of developing the industry. It would be good to hear from the Minister of State tomorrow on the subject because far too often we have reaction to what emerges in RTE documentaries. There are facts already in the public domain. There was a disturbing article in The Sunday Times in December about the doping of greyhounds in the sector. It is important that the Minister of State would take the opportunity tomorrow to tell us what he knows about these disturbing reports, the action he has taken if he does know, if he has not known up to now, the reason for that, and what he intends to do now." Senator Ronan Mullen, Seanad Eireann, 21 February 2017
In a May 2014 email to the National Association of Regional Game Councils (whose members are responsible for the shooting of tens of thousands of foxes, deer, birds and other creatures every year), Ronan Mullen stated "I am writing to you in relation to your email to all Oireachtas members in March. In my acknowledgement of that email I expressed my support to the NARGC and the collation of sports shooting groups. I note with regret that there are fresh proposals by An Garda Siochana to ban a number of classes of firearms. I understand that the Gardai have submitted proposals to the Minister for Justice which, inter alia, seek to widen the class of firearms banned to include weapons of .22 calibres and all pump action and semi-automatic shotguns which are capable of holding more than three rounds and all semi-automatic centre fire rifles. You will recall that when the lawful rights of firearms holders were threatened I spoke out against the government of the day...I wish to restate in very clear terms that I will work with your organisation and all other groups which are part of the collation of organisations to protect the rights of sports shooting enthusiasts...I hope you can recommend me to your members as a supporter of the rights of sport shooting enthusiasts in the European Election on Friday. Is mise le meas, Rónán" https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=766641470036915&id=190104431023958
"I second what was stated by Senator Feighan and referred to by Senator Ruane, which is that there is clearly something amiss with a sport or industry that involves killing or culling on such a large scale. I do not use the language of animal rights. I remember an election slogan some years ago which stated "People matter most". Human beings have rights and dignity and we must care for their welfare. Of course, animals have dignity and we need to care for their welfare. In the context of exercising our stewardship over creation, we must ensure that we do not demean ourselves by demeaning or mistreating animals. I have often been critical of people who appear to care more about vulnerable animals than they do about vulnerable humans. I do not have any truck with such inconsistent thinking, but our responsibility as human beings and to the planet requires that we concern ourselves with the welfare of animals. Issues that are unedifying, to say the least, and hard going for the squeamish have been exposed. The House should have a debate on the matter. We need to consider what policy and legislative consequences need to follow in order to ensure that animals are treated with respect even as we use or enjoy them in sport. We do not have a great history in terms of how we treated animals, as is evident from the literature of our school days. In particular, I remember Peig Sayers documenting deeply disturbing things that happened to animals. We have moved on and it is important that we make choices which reflect that." Seanad debates, 27 June 2019.
Gerald Nash (Labour Party)
Former TD Gerald Nash is a patron of Drogheda Animal Rescue Centre. His views on blood sports are unknown.
Senator David Norris (Independent):
In May 2016, responding to correspondence from ICABS in which we highlighted the injuries and deaths suffered by greyhounds who end up at the notorious Canidrome racetrack, Senator Norris stated: "Thank you for your email about supporting my colleague Frances Black and the campaign to stop the export of Irish greyhounds to China. I agree wholeheartedly and am very happy to add my name in support."
"The spectacle of fox hunting is most attractive, although not for the fox. However, 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.
"In case anybody thinks I am red in tooth and claw in terms of hunting, I leave a question mark over fox hunting but disdain most other forms. I consider hare coursing to be a particularly damnable and degrading pursuit and I condemn it outright." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 10 February 2010.
Senator Catherine Noone (Fine Gael):
"I don’t usually listen to Liveline but this has to be the worst ever. Letting a trophy hunter on to boast about killing these beautiful endangered animals is very difficult to understand." from a January 28, 2019 tweet from Senator Noone.
Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh (Independent, formerly Sinn Fein):
"We acknowledge the contribution made by the vast majority of those involved in greyhound racing and coursing to the sporting and cultural landscape of Ireland, particularly rural Ireland, and to the welfare of dogs. This industry is also important in providing employment, sport and recreation for thousands of people, who have shown great dedication to the sport." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011: Committee and Remaining Stages, Seanad debates, 9 November 2011.
"The greyhound industry is currently in free-fall, with owners and breeders leaving the game in their droves. They believe that the board is being filled with political appointments and that the Minister is proposing to sell the greyhound racing stadium in Harold's Cross while keeping others open, even though it makes a profit. Concerns were also expressed about the lack of financial transparency from the board, the fact that the 2013 accounts have not yet been made available and irregularities in the industry in terms of substances used by unscrupulous trainers..." Seanad debates, 10 June 2015.
Sinn Fein Senator, Trevor O Clochartaigh, has confirmed 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". November 2011.
"The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 in order that holders of shotgun licences can continue to use their firearms during the open season. This is a practical, sensible step that maintains the current process of applying for a licence to hold a firearm and continues that process into the future. According to the 2011 Act, the window for applications which took place after 2009 would come to a close at the beginning of August 2012. This legislation removes that window and now those in possession of firearms will simply comply with the general obligations which already existed upon firearms owners in terms of renewing licences, etc. This allows hunters to continue hunting during the open season without having to renew their licences during that period." Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012: Second Stage, Seanad Eireann, 4 July 2012.
"I raise an issue which is of great concern to farmers across the 32 Counties and knows no boundaries, that is, TB eradication. I ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Deputy Simon Coveney, to clarify the levels of TB on a county by county basis, the reason levels are high in County Clare, west Cork and east Wicklow and how active is the Department's wildlife programme in removing TB infected badgers in these areas. It is of huge importance to the farming community that bovine TB be eradicated. I note that the Sinn Fein Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the North, Ms Michelle O'Neill, appeared before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on 3 July and outlined that the eradication of bovine TB was a top priority for her in her ministry. I am aware that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine is of the same mind. The approach adodpted in the North is to test live badgers, vaccinate and release those which test negative for TB and remove those that prove positive. Therefore, the focus is on removing diseased badgers and protecting those which are not infected...Perhaps the Minister might outline the Department's wildlife programme to remove infected badgers from these and other areas across the island and if the necessary resources are in place. There is a fear that there may be a shortage of personnel in the areas mentioned and that this is leading to infected badgers not being removed." TB Eradication, Seanad Debate, 10 July 2012.
"We all agree that the [greyhound] industry is extremely important and we all support it, as has been outlined by previous Senators, there are certain questions that are raised. At the peak of the industry, approximately 25,000 greyhounds were born in Ireland every year, which is a huge number compared with other countries. Typically, only 80 greyhounds were adopted into Irish homes per year, while between 430 and 450 were adopted into European homes at the end of their racing lives. Some 40,000 greyhounds are unaccounted for annually, which is still a serious cause for concern." Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2011: Committee and Remaining Stages, Seanad debates, 9 November 2011.
Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail):
Brian Ó Domhnaill was nominated to Seanad Eireann by the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation which supports greyhound racing and hare coursing.
In December 2016, Brian Ó Domhnaill said he wants the government to continue giving millions of euros of taxpayers' money to the "wonderful" greyhound racing - despite acknowledging major governance and dog drugging problems and conceding that the industry is losing money and is "near collapse". More...
"I wish to question the modus operandi of the Irish Greyhound Board, which is in receipt of a taxpayer subsidy of €285,000 per week this year. However, its level of communication with and flow of information to the Irish Greyhound Owners And Breeders Federation, which represents the owners and breeders of greyhounds in this country, is abysmal and shocking to say the least...This is a wonderful industry and it deserves to be supported by the State. The industry is being significantly supported by the State but, unfortunately, it appears that it continues to lose money. The State agency involved refuses to engage with the breeders and owners of greyhounds. That is shocking, alarming and unacceptable...he Minister of State, Deputy Andrew Doyle, has written to me recently about his own efforts to bring in legislation for the greyhound industry. I cannot emphasise enough, however, the need to do this quickly to save this great industry from its near collapse and to secure its future." Brian Ó Domhnaill, Seanad debates on the greyhound industry, 6th December 2016. Watch Speech
What about animal sports, or even, by a further extension, pest control? There are sports such as stag hunting that we are not too used to up in Donegal, but there are many other sports such as hare coursing. Where does that fall with regard to section 12? The section states: "A person shall not ... do, or fail to do, anything or cause or permit anything to be done to an animal that causes injury." Where does that leave the area of sports? Does it have any effect? I know there is other legislation dealing with sports, but where does it leave horse racing, for example? Animal Health and Welfare Bill 2012: Committee Stage, 22 May 2012.
Senator Denis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail):
"There is over-regulation within the fishing industry that has driven many people from that industry. Members are now witnessing over-regulation in the greyhound industry at the coursing level or otherwise. I must confess that I have never attended a coursing meeting in my life. The amendment tabled by Fine Gael seeks to address such over-regulation." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Report and Final Stages. Note: This amendment was declared lost.
Senator Denis O'Donovan is in the doghouse after voting against the Government on the proposed "Dog Breeding Establishments Bill". In the Seanad on Wednesday, June 16 last, Senator O'Donovan said he 'took a stand for rural Ireland' and opposed the Bill, which was introduced by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr John Gormley. After meeting more than 150 people involved in coursing and gun clubs, who have expressed concerns about over-regulation and the number of litters a breeding bitch can have in a two-year period, Senator O'Donovan decided to oppose it on the basis that some amendments were needed. From Denis in the Doghouse, Southern Star, 26 June 2010.
Senator Denis O'Donovan was listed as a sponsor of a greyhound race at Curraheen Park in Cork on 4th November 2017 - "The Mc Nulty Cabs & Senator Denis O Donovan 550".
"Irish senator Denis O'Donovan has demanded a cull of the 'vicious' seabirds [seagulls]. Because of fish shortages in the sea, the winged scavengers have taken to 'invading' towns and villages, where they 'attack' children's fish and chips, the parliamentarian said. 'I think it is coming to the stage where they are endangering society,' he told the Seanad, the upper house of parliament in Dublin. Mr O'Donovan insisted it was a 'serious enough issue' and has called for the Dublin parliament to have a debate on dangerous seagulls after the summer recess." Irish Independent, July 20 2015.
Joe O’Reilly (Fine Gael)
"Also central to my childhood was sport, by which I mean people going out to shoot in November, people going coursing or various forms of outdoor sport with beagles. Regardless of whether one likes it, the Ward Union Hunt is an integral part of rural society and rural life. The deer is not at risk in the physical sense... I am in favour of the Ward Union Hunt and have no quibbles about that." Speaking as a Senator, Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage, 30 June 2010
"The people involved in the dog breeding industry have a great love of animals and a commercial interest in the maintenance of the highest standards." Seanad debate, Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 9 March 2010.
"I live beside a hunt known as the Drumlin Hounds in Cootehill. I am familiar with members of the hunt and know the dogs are well fed, cared for in an exemplary fashion and kept in the best possible conditions. Those involved in the hunt have an affection for their animals, are outdoors people and love sport...Next Friday week, I will attend a hunt ball in the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon in the Minister of State's constituency. I do so every year as the ball is an opportunity to meet a wonderful group of people from the Roscommon hunt who have a passion for what they do and love and care for their animals." Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009: Committee Stage, 10 February 2010.
Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Labour Party):
In an October 2011 Dail Question, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Agriculture "if he will reaffirm his commitment to end fur farming" and "if the animal health and welfare Bill will deal with this issue". However, less than two years later in March 2013, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin voted against amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which sought to secure a ban fur farming.
He also voted against amendments to the Bill which aimed to outlaw foxhunting, hare coursing, digging out, terrierwork, ferreting, badger culling and the use of animals in circus performances.
Senator Grace O'Sullivan (Green Party):
Senator Grace O'Sullivan attended an anti-coursing protest outside Dail Eireann on July 21st 2016 and held a "Stop the cruelty. Ban hare coursing" placard.
"Having spent over ten years on Greenpeace ships, including the Rainbow Warrior, Grace is an internationally renowned environmentalist. She describes her activism as fighting injustice against the environment and communities, and is contesting this election to ensure that the environmental rights and concerns of her community are represented on the European stage." from the Green Party website, 2014.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan (Fianna Fail, Kerry):
Speaking in the Seanad in July 2014, Ned O'Sullivan stated: "I am very much against seagulls." He branded the birds "vermin" and called for the government to do something to stop them. The Irish Independent reported that his remarks were jeered by other members of the Seanad.
Senator James Reilly (Fine Gael):
Emerging from Leinster House on 30th June 2016 (while ICABS was holding an anti-coursing demonstration at the gates of the Dail), Senator James Reilly told ICABS director, Aideen Yourell: "I'm no fan of that [hare coursing]".
"Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show researchers in Trinity College spent more than 368,000 Euro on live animals in only 12 months to use in tests aimed at treating disease in humans. The figure is more than double what was spent the previous year. Dogs, pigs, rabbits, mice and rats have been used in the university's medical experiments, but there is pressure from the EU to find other ways of conducting tests. The Trinity figures show the huge cost of "maintenance and welfare" during the same period, bringing the bill to 665,102 Euro. Between October 2011 and last September the university bought 15 pigs, 20,094 mice and 6,579 rats for use in its labs. The animals are tested as part of the exploration of treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and genetic disorders. The university said any research carried out on animals requires the prior licensing of the person and the project by the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly...the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society, which is campaigning for an end to the use of live animals, argues that animal experimentation 'allows the infliction of pain and suffering'."
As a TD, James Reilly voted against the bill that banned staghunting with packs of hounds.
Senator Neale Richmond (Fine Gael, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council)
"No I'm not [in favour of a ban on hare coursing and foxhunting] but it needs to regulated and monitored." from a tweet from Cllr Neale Richmond (Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council) to ICABS, May 2014. In response, ICABS stated "Regulated and monitored animal cruelty is still animal cruelty. There is no place for animal cruelty in modern Ireland."
Senator Lynn Ruane (Independent):
In June 2016, Senator Lynn Ruane attended a press conference in Dublin to support Maureen O'Sullivan TD's announcement of a bill to ban hare coursing.
"On the greyhound industry and the issues that have been revealed since yesterday, I find it extremely frustrating to listen to Fianna Fáil Senators speaking on greyhound licensing when they voted against amendments which we tabled and which were designed to stop licensing the export of greyhounds to China and Pakistan. We should never wait for failings in respect of animal or other rights to be exposed on national television. Rather, we should always seek to prevent problems through legislation. Legislation on this matter came before the House in the past few months and we had a significant opportunity to strengthen it in regard to animal cruelty. It is appalling to think that there people had dogs' ears removed in order that they could not be identified. We could have strengthened the Greyhound Racing Bill when it came before the House some months ago, especially regarding the licensing of exports to countries where the cruelty perpetrated is even more extreme than the horrific cruelty shown last night on "Prime Time". It is dishonest and hypocritical for parties or people to state that we need to look at a particular issue, but not acknowledge that only a few months ago they voted down measures to address it. I need to point that out, especially after seeing the obscene images broadcast last night." Seanad debates, 27 June 2019.