Hare coursing is a ‘part of our heritage’ says Cllr, as vote fails

January 27th, 2023 11:45 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Photo: Shutterstock

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 A CALL for a nationwide ban on hare coursing by two Green Party councillors was shot down by their fellow councillors last week following a heated debate on the motion.

Both Cllr Alan O’Connor and Cllr Liam Quaide raised a joint motion calling on the Council to write to the Minister of Agriculture to request that a nationwide ban on the sport be introduced.

Cllr O’Connor pointed out that Ireland is one of only three countries in the EU which allow hare coursing and he said it’s ‘not justifiable’ that animals are terrorised for fun and pointed out that hares are often hurt in these events.

‘Hare coursing is cruel but as human beings we have a capacity to be more or less cruel or kind to our fellow creatures,’ said Cllr Connor.

His colleague Cllr Quaide said that hare coursing is a ‘perversion of what sport is meant to be’ and said that hares are terrorised by the dogs that pursue them.

‘I don’t accept that it’s an intrinsic attack on rural Ireland as I’m from rural Ireland and hare coursing has no place in any society that calls itself civilised and caring,’ said Cllr Quaide. However, several councillors disagreed with their motion with county mayor Cllr Danny Collins saying he knows lots of greyhound owners who have great respect for their dogs and hares.

‘These events are supervised by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Irish Coursing Club. They issue the licences and I cannot support the motion,’ said Cllr Collins, who added that a lot of his friends are involved in coursing.

Cllr Eileen Lynch (FG) said she was ‘strongly opposed’ to the motion as she has been involved in greyhounds and coursing most of her life and that it’s something she is very proud of.

‘For me and many others, it’s part of our heritage and tradition and coursing is a part of rural Ireland. I accept that not everyone is supportive of it and they’re entitled to their opinion,’ said Cllr Lynch.

She pointed out that coursing and the conservation of the hare go hand-in-hand and said the industry is ‘highly regulated’ and ‘heavily conditioned’ with vets attending each meeting.

‘The hares are well looked after and they are released into the wild afterwards and coursing is not a threat to them. Illegal hare hunting using lurchers is a threat to the Irish hare and not coursing.’

Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said hare coursing is part of their upbringing and suggested the two councillors should attend an event to see for themselves.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) opposed the motion as she said it’s more preferable to have it regulated. She added that she doesn’t buy into ‘cancel culture’. Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said he could not support a motion to ban a rural pursuit and questioned what would happen if hare coursing went ‘underground’.

A subsequent vote was carried out which saw 36 councillors vote against the motion, while four voted for it, including Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) and Cllr Cathal Rasmussen (Lab) with three councillors abstaining from voting.

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