THE Ward Union Hunt took off on a stag hunt yesterday for the first time since Environment Minister John Gormley imposed what, it claimed, was a ban on the sport.
Anti-hunt campaigners expressed their disgust after it was confirmed that the Hunt, which operates in north county Dublin and east Meath, rode out at Kilmoon in Co Meath.
Controversy erupted around the Ward Union Hunt after a stag collapsed and died, after being chased into a packed schoolyard by hounds and huntsmen.
The hunt yesterday claimed it had been forced to suspend its hunting season because of conditions imposed on its licence by Minister Gormley.
Its traditional St Stephen's Day hunt had become "a farce", it said, because Mr Gormley's conditions meant the hounds could not be released until after the stag had been recaptured.
But this week, a High Court judge granted an injunction to the club removing the conditions on its licence pending a full hearing of a separate judicial review hearing.
The decision allowed 42 riders to head out yesterday, Ward Union Hunt secretary Declan Brooks confirmed. Mr Brooks said there was "great atmosphere" and no protests.
But a spokeswoman for the Association of Hunt Saboteurs said it was "disgraceful" that the riders were allowed to go out "after everything that has happened".