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Fair deal for furry friends

Amidst all the weighty wheeling and dealing in the corridors of power aimed at producing a new government, politicians may overlook the plight of a brutally oppressed and voiceless minority.

I refer to the victims of coursing clubs, fox hunts, and the country's only stag hunt. The Green Party included in its election manifesto a very clear commitment to seeking a ban on such cruel sports should it find itself in government. Animal welfare campaigners hope that this manifesto pledge can be honoured.



I am not suggesting that the hare that is snatched from its home in the countryside and then forced to run for its life from hyped-up greyhounds should take precedence over the need to maintain our thriving Celtic Tiger economy.



Nor would I dare to suggest that concern about the pain and suffering inflicted by the rich and famous on our majestic stags ought to divert precious government time and resources from the urgent business of running the country.



Hare coursing, fox hunting and stag hunting can be swiftly obliterated from our green (and soon to be greener?) island by an aptly worded Wildlife Protection Bill. No adverse economic consequences worth mentioning would ensue from such a move.



A ban on hare coursing only means replacing the live hare with a mechanical lure, a viable and humane innovation already undertaken by Australia's greyhound industry. The advent of drag coursing could then open up the sport to people in Ireland (more than 70pc according to the most recent opinion poll) who at present abhor the cruelty that inevitably accompanies the use of live hares in the sport.



Action to protect the Irish hare is doubly urgent as the state-run Parks and Wildlife Service now classifies the animal as an endangered species, as does the Red Data Book on Irish flora and fauna.



Likewise, drag hunting could replace the 'pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable', as it has in Britain since the baiting ban.



Thomas Moore, in his classic work 'Utopia', envisioned a near to prefect society in which, among other enlightened reforms, the cruel killing of animals for fun would be outlawed.



This country under a Fianna Fail-led government with a Green Party input would be no Utopia, as no society will ever be perfect. But the incoming coalition could strike a decisive blow for our threatened and abused wildlife heritage by declaring Ireland a blood sport-free zone.

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John Fitzgerald

(Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports)

Lower Coyne Street,

Callan,

Co Kilkenny


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