SIR – As a long-time campaigner against blood sports, I will not be voting for Gavin Duffy if he gets to run for President. Others may admire his brilliant business career and TV role as a ‘Dragon,’ and help him on his way to the Aras, but I’m definitely out.
He’s a member of the Louth Hunt and a former chairman of the Hunting Association of Ireland. I hasten to add that he is perfectly entitled to hold those positions because fox hunting is legal in Ireland, unfortunately.
I’m glad he’s seeking a nomination though because it affords the many Irish people who disapprove of setting dogs after foxes and hares for fun to query his support for such activities. Eight years ago, he was to the forefront of a nationwide campaign by an alliance of pro-blood sport associations that aimed to block the passage of a Fianna Fail-Green Party Bill to ban stag hunting.
Thankfully, they failed and the majestic stags of County Meath can now run free in the countryside, no longer subjected to those prolonged chases that ended with them dropping down from exhaustion, their bodies ripped and bleeding.
I remember hearing Mr Duffy’s powerful voice, amplified by megaphone and echoing around Waterford City as I stood outside the Tower Hotel during the Green Party annual conference in 2010. He was addressing an assembly of hunt sympathisers who were picketing the hotel.
While disagreeing with his sentiments, I must say he spoke well, recalling for some of those who heard him a description of Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. He wasn’t quite that good, I thought, though a nifty orator nonetheless.
But I would remind this charismatic and articulate foxhunting fan that politics too can descend to the level of a blood sport. Presidential campaigns are no exception. They may even get nastier than any local or general election as the big day draws near.
Will Mr. Duffy enjoy the much-trumpeted thrill of the chase when he is on the receiving end of the hunt?
One shudders at the fate of previous candidates who were pursued mercilessly by the media hounds, their past deeds and utterances dug up with the efficiency of a spade and terrier gang unearthing a bolted fox.
If, at the end of his run for the Aras, Mr Duffy feels bruised and emotionally battered by the ordeal, as have so many presidential hopefuls, I hope he will spare a thought for all those foxes that endured far worse in the name of sport.
If you fail to become President, you can move on with your life. No such option for the unearthed fox. He is tossed to the hounds to be eviscerated. And his only crime is to have been born in a country that tolerates this obnoxious pastime.
Lower Coyne Street,