FF deputies meet critics of hunt ban


A FIANNA FÁIL junior minister and 38 other members of the parliamentary party attended a meeting at Leinster House last night with a group opposed to the Green Party’s proposed ban on stag hunting and other animal welfare measures.

Minister of State for Agriculture Seán Connick was one of the TDs present at the meeting with the pro-hunting group Rise, which was organised by the Lemass forum of the party.

There were more TDs and Senators at the meeting than attended the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on Tuesday evening, according to one of those who were present.

Mr Connick told The Irish Timesthat he had briefly attended to hear the case being made on the hunting issue.

The meeting was co-chaired by Meath East TD Thomas Byrne and Tipperary South deputy Mattie McGrath.

Mr Byrne said: “My biggest concern is for farmers in the constituency because of the fallen animal service provided. Most farmers support the hunt because of that service.”

He said the meeting heard some 5,000 fallen animals were collected by the Ward Union Hunt every year.

Earlier it emerged that Minister for the Environment John Gormley is prepared to alter forthcoming wildlife legislation to allay the concerns of deerstalkers who claim that further restrictions are about to be imposed.

A meeting took place this week between senior officials in the Department of the Environment and representatives of deerstalking associations who are concerned about the implications of the recently-published Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010.

Mr Gormley’s spokesman said the officials gave assurances at the meeting that there was “no intention to restrict traditional deerstalking”, and that the proposed legislation “could and would be amended to ensure clarity on this issue”.