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Letters to the Editor: Dáil needs to debate ban on foxhunting

December 4th, 2021 3:10 PM

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EDITOR – The hunting season is upon us, and the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable, as Oscar Wilde called this activity, has returned to our countryside. While I welcome the resumption of sports and recreations following the Covid lockdown I feel sick to the stomach at the prospect of this pastime making a comeback.

I have just read a report on some recent Irish hunts in an equestrian magazine and I notice that blood sport apologists still find it necessary to resort to evasion and carefully chosen euphemisms when writing about foxhunting.

The report refers to a 20-minute chase through County Laois that culminated in a fox running onto a farm in search of refuge.

It enthused about the suitability of the terrain, the lovely hedges and the crisp winter air etc. But the fate of the fox doesn’t merit a mention. The report recounts another hunt in which the fox, following a long chase, was ‘marked to ground.’

No mention of the animal suffering in any way, but this phrase normally refers to when a fox is driven into a drain or den from which it is then dug out. 

And of course the report alludes to the wonderful day had by all and the festivities afterwards in the pubs and hotels.

We need to get behind the picture postcard image of foxhunting that depicts wizened riders attired in red jackets and jodhpurs setting off from a town square, led by happy tail-wagging hounds, while in the background snow falls wispily from whitened rooftops.

A hunt is not sporting in that it pits up to 70 hounds against one fox, and the aim is to kill the hunted animal… not quickly as in pest-control but in a long drawn-out, choreographed chase that must give pleasure to the riders and hunt followers.

You won’t ever see the result of a hunt depicted on postcards or table mats: an animal that has dropped down from exhaustion having the skin ripped from its bones; or a terrified fox that has gone to earth being dragged to the surface with the aid of spades and terriers.

Later this month, a Bill to ban fox hunting will come before the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Dáil should also be debating the issue.

It’s time to end this organised animal cruelty masquerading as sport.

Thanking you,

John Fitzgerald,

Callan,

Co Kilkenny.

Recalling Criostóir, a sanctuary in a storm

EDITOR – A Corkman described as a hidden gem and of having the spirit of a fíor ghael died in October 2021.

Criostóir (Seán) de Baróid lived a long life. His devoted wife, Máire, died in February. They made a great partnership.

His interest in reconciliation began in the 1960s when he organised social summer gatherings for those who fought in the War of Independence and on both sides of the Civil War. These were well attended with friendships renewed.

He co-founded the ‘Between’ voluntary group in 1972/73 to offer support and holiday breaks in the summer to severely under pressure families in Northern Ireland. In a few short years, he received a People of the Year award in 1977. The holiday programme ran for eight to nine weeks and groups occasionally visited at other times.

The ‘Between’ holiday centre was located off Spur Hill in the beautiful countryside of Doughcloyne with a large playground and landscaped grounds done by ‘Between’ and later with a lovely waterfall where visitors would sit and relax.

Small aircraft flying by could see ‘Between’ in white letters on a roof.

A profusion of flowers and roses bloomed in the summer. The sports field boundary was planted with slender Aspen trees gently rustling in the breeze with pheasants in a secluded corner. Tara, the centre’s Labrador watchdog, was loved by children and adults alike. 

Between as a holiday centre came to a close in the early 2000s.

Criostóir is gratefully remembered, too, for his support to friends and people, including me, who went to him for guidance. He was a sanctuary in a storm.

Mary Sullivan,

Cork.

Migrants are to blame

EDITOR – We read and hear the horror stories  and tragedies of people dying while trying to enter Europe of UK illegally.  

Fingers are pointed at various governments. However, I must suggest we be practical here and point the finger where it correctly belongs – those ‘economic’ migrants who choose to ignore laws, rules, regulations and attempt to enter various countries illegally.

Having lived and worked in many countries from where they originate ie Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and West Africa – I can say with certainty the poorer, less well-off of those countries could never attempt to enter Europe as they would not have the funds for the journey.

Let us look to the ‘people smugglers’ (who demand substantial payments) and the ‘do gooders’ of society who actively encourage these migrants.

Migrants should be encouraged to apply for visas to enter European countries, instead of storming land borders.

Responsibility should not be borne on member states of EU or EU taxpayers.

Michael M Moriarty,

Rochestown,

Cork.

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