Call for Hare coursing ban denied after Dáil vote

TD Maureen O'Sullivan proposed the motion which was overwhelmingly defeated

Call for Hare coursing ban denied after Dáil vote

©INPHO/ Tom Honan

Hare coursing will not be banned in Ireland after a motion put forward by Maureen O'Sullivan was defeated today in a Dáil vote.

The Independent TD's Private Members Bill received just 20 votes from TDs, while 164 voted against the introduction of the Bill.

The outcome of the vote means that Ireland remains one of only three European countries where hare coursing is legal. It was last put before the Dáil floor in 1993 where it also failed to pass.

Coursing is an activity which involves netting and capturing hares for muzzled greyhounds to chase in competition. Official records of capturing of hares for the 2014-15 season found that 99.3% were released in a healthy condition after coursing.

Speaking in the Dáil last week however, Maureen O'Sullivan argued that this is a cruel sport which encourages animal abuse.

 "I am struck by a number of contradictions. We live in a country of great natural beauty and yet we treat animals like hares appallingly. The contradiction and irony, which I have mentioned already, is that we have the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht issuing licences to capture and net hares."

"How is it part of the artistic and cultural agenda of the country to net hares, keep them in captivity for several weeks before releasing them into a field to be chased and hunted by the greyhound?"

Meanwhile, Hollywood actor Gabriel Byrne has also spoken out on the issue. Echoing O'Sullivan's comments, he revealed that he has written a letter to TDs on behalf of friends in two animal rights groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and Animal Rights Action Network (Aran).

"It's hard to imagine anything more barbaric than this so-called 'sport. From the terrifying chase, during which hares have been known to rupture internal organs fleeing the hounds, to the moment the petrified and exhausted animals are surrounded ... every minute of hare coursing reflects the hard-heartedness of the participants."

"Coursing is an atrocity that should have no place in modern Ireland, which is why it should be banned."