Letters to the Editor: Silence the guns, not our feathered friends

February 6th, 2023 8:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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EDITOR – Your report on the depressing demise of the iconic curlew (‘Curlew’s days are numbered’, Southern Star, 19th January 2023) highlighted a study which predicts that the bird is likely to be extinct in Ireland within a decade.

The causes of the decline – from 5,000 pairs in the 1980s to an estimated 105 pairs today - were presented as including ‘agricultural intensification, disturbance, pollution and climate change’. Missing from the list is hunting.

The shooting of curlews wasn’t banned here until 2012, by which time the number of breeding pairs had plummeted by up to 96%. As they edged towards extinction, hunters were free to blast them out of the sky for fun.

Sadly, the curlew is not alone in facing finality. According to Birdwatch Ireland, 63% of Ireland’s bird species are in serious trouble.

These species include ones which politicians are failing to protect from persecution.

Among the birds on the open season hunting list are red-listed birds of ‘highest conservation concern’ (red grouse, shoveler, scaup, pochard, goldeneye, golden plover, snipe, woodcock) as well as threatened amber-list birds of ‘medium conservation concern’ (teal, gadwall, wigeon, pintail, tufted duck, greylag goose, mallard).

In relation to snipe and scaup, research has revealed that their status has alarmingly fallen from amber to red, with breeding populations of snipe in Ireland now ‘in severe decline’. 

Despite this, hunters may gun them down for five months –September 1st to January 31st. Pochard and goldeneye are also targeted during the same period. Both have experienced dramatic drops in their wintering populations.

The Irish government’s decision to allow shooters to continue killing endangered birds is entirely reckless. 

The priority must be safeguarding birdlife and not appeasing the minority who find fun in reducing these wonders of nature to lifeless lumps of bloodied plumage and shattered bones.

Action must be taken now to ensure that it’s the guns that are silenced and not our feathered friends.

Philip Kiernan,

Irish Council Against Blood Sports,


Co Westmeath.


Can the Council not clean up the ditches?

EDITOR – I know I am like a broken record on this but once again the amount of litter on the side of West Cork’s roads needs to be seen to be believed.

I took a different route on my last visit to Schull and opted to take the ‘Bantry line’ via Crookstown.

On the winding road from Coppeen to Dunmanway, through the little forest, it is shocking to see the piles and piles of coffee cups, plastic bottles and even some bags of entire rubbish just tossed into the ditch.

I see community groups all over the country doing the work that used to be done by our Council staff when I was younger.

Now the Councils are happy to leave it Tidy Towns groups to clean our streets and other community groups to clean the roads. But will we have to wait for the last tourist to leave and vow never to come back before we realise our local authority needs to take the issue of littering and fly-tipping seriously? It seems to be that the environmental department is the one that gets the chop when there is a need to cut back on vital resources at Budget time in our local authorities. But that, in my mind, is very short-sighted. Tourism leads to jobs, which lead to prosperity so a clean environment essential leads to a healthy economy.

Doesn’t the Council now have a tourism arm and a tourism policy?

The part of the road into Dunmanway is a dangerous section of the journey so no local community group could chance cleaning it up – so there’s no free ‘out’ here for Cork County Council, I’m afraid.

But surely the Council has some kind of vehicle that can sweep the side of the road or ditch to clean up at least the most protruding items? Such a shame to see yet another one of the entry points to my beloved West Cork treated like a rubbish dump.

Sue Crowe,


Cork city.


Collins would turn in his grave to see no FG TD

EDITOR – 2022 was the 100th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins.

Michael Collins would turn in his grave if he saw that the Cork South West constituency, his birthplace was without a Fine Gael TD now. We have a Michael Collins TD in south west Cork, but he is not a Fine Gael TD.

For many years, south west Cork returned two Fine Gael TDs.

Michael Hallissey




Ardern’s decision is to be commended

EDITOR – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has resigned and left politics, stating that she did not have ‘enough in the tank’ to keep going.
Many would say that this lady has performed very well as Prime Minister. Yet she chooses to leave politics.

I suggest this lady should be commended for her decision, whether we agree or not, unlike many Irish politicians who ‘hang around’ the Houses of Oireachtas  like a bad smell, just building up their State pensions.

Michael  Moriarty,

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