Kenny rules out reversing stag-hunt ban
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has firmly ruled out any reversal of the ban on stag hunting, leaving one of his ministers embarrassingly isolated.
Fine Gael did promise to overrule the previous government's ban, but the commitment never made it into the Government's plans for its term in office.
Officially representing the Government on another piece of animal welfare legislation recently, Junior Minister Shane McEntee indicated that the stag-hunting ban would be lifted "shortly".
But Mr Kenny's spokesman said Mr McEntee was merely expressing "an opinion" and there is "no commitment" to reverse the ban.
"He wasn't speaking for or expressing government policy in that instance," the spokesman said.
"There is no such commitment in the Programme for Government. He (Mr Kenny) would not resile from what's in the Programme for Government. There is no commitment."
The Ward Union Stag Hunt, which was affected by the ban brought in by the previous government at the behest of the Green Party, is based in Mr McEntee's constituency.
Fine Gael and Labour both voted against the ban at the time it was introduced and Fine Gael minister Phil Hogan promised before the general election to reverse the ban.
The pro-hunt lobby group RISE (Rural Ireland Says Enough) is insisting that Fine Gael deliver on its promise to reverse the ban.
Mr McEntee told the Seanad a fortnight ago that the law was going to be changed.
"The time is coming shortly when the Ward Union will be back under the legislation introduced by Michael D Higgins in 1996," he said.
However, Mr McEntee's department has no role in the law in this area.
Stag hunting comes under the remit of Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan -- but he has no plans to reverse the ban either.
"No, there isn't (a plan). There is no legislation in the pipeline," his spokesman said.
Along with Mr Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is also ruling out any change to the existing ban.
"There is no plan to revisit the issue," a spokesperson said.
The Irish Independent understands that government officials did examine former Green Party minister John Gormley's legislation outlawing stag hunting. The conclusion drawn was that the ban can only be lifted by passing another law.
"The Greens did exactly what they needed to do. The only way you can do it, to reverse the ban, is through legislation. They did that deliberately," a source said.