THE proposed banning of the Ward Union hunt by Minister for the Environment, John Gormley will meet stiff resistance with protests set for the streets of Dublin and Dail Eireann itself, according to local man Gavin Duffy of the Hunting Association.
A massive rally in Trim Castle, Hotel, organised by the Hunting Association of Ireland in support of the Ward Union Hunt was attended by over 1,500 supporters.
Minister Gormley and local Minister Noel Dempsey both of whom declined to attend were severely criticised as speaker after speaker spoke in favour of hunts.
Mr Duffy said they were going to have to bring the protest to Dublin and pick a date in the New Year when they would bring all their horses to the Phoenix Park and ride up to the Dail.
'That would send a message to Fianna Fail that they're messing with the wrong people – thousands of horses arriving on Leinster House.'
Meanwhile Meath East TD Shane McEntee called on people power to protect the Ward Union and support them in their opposition to new legislation that will abolish the last stag hunt in the world.
Speaking at the Trim rally Deputy McEntee said that two weeks ago he felt that this was a hopeless battle – until he was contacted by fishermen, gun club members and other sporting groups from all over the country pledging their support for the Ward Union Hunt.
' The people realise that this ban on stag hunting is the thin edge of the wedge in a concerted effort of the Green party to stamp out all rural Irish sporting activities eventually.
'The people who work, protect and preserve the Irish countryside in real terms are sick of being dictated to from Dublin, they are sick of farming by numbers and will come together to oppose this legislation and this is the only way that it can be done.
'The Ward Union Hunt is the best regulated hunt in this country - every element of the hunt is overseen by veterinary and department officials. It has been proven time and time again that the stag is not stressed or harmed by the hunt but Mr Gormley has made it his life's ambition to ban it.
'However he has not come up with alternative ideas of employment for those employed directly and indirectly by the hunt or how to replace the lost revenue generated in the economy, over € 1.1 million.
The attendance also included Meath East TD Thomas Byrne and Meath West TD Damien English as well as a large number of wellknown jockeys including Paul and Nina Carberry, Michael Kinane, Norman Williamson, Ross Geraghty and Robert Power.
Former Meath All-Ireland winning captain Tommy Dowd who regularly rides with the hunt said that hunting was part of rural Meath and rural Ireland.
'I had many a battle on the football field – but Minister Gormley is in for one hell of a battle with everyone here, he said.