Madam -- Fiona O'Connell might have to change the title of her weekly rural column from 'Lay of the Land' to 'Rant of the Week', if she doesn't want to fall foul of the Trades Descriptions Act. I refer to her recent piece 'Hunters prepare for a blood-red September slaughter', in which yet again she abandons any pretext of impartial commentary on country matters, opting instead to use her privileged position to unleash a ferocious attack on hunting.
Ms O'Connell paints a lurid picture of mass slaughter that owes a lot more to her ability as a writer of fiction than it does to fact-based journalism.
The thousands of men, women and children across this island who live for their weekend's hunting do not in any way match the insulting and worn-out stereotypes peddled by Ms O'Connell.
Hunting, shooting and fishing are an integral and valued part of our unique country heritage. Our traditional pastimes enjoy enormous support right across a broad social spectrum in small town/rural Ireland. Indeed, Ms O'Connell might be surprised to learn that there are many people from urban areas who like to spend their free time with rod, gun or working dog in our beautiful countryside.
I believe the time is overdue for Ms O'Connell to turn her attention to other topics. The proliferation of ragwort, the plight of the red squirrel, etc. Otherwise she runs the risk of boring your readers -- and in a newspaper that rightly prides itself on avoiding boredom, this would never do.
Chairman, Hunting Association of Ireland,
Clane, Co Kildare