Pickets at final day of top coursing event
Protesters at the Aran and Irish Coalition Against Blood Sports picket of the National Coursing Championships in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, yesterday.
Up to 70 protesters attended a picket of the National Coursing Championships in Co Tipperary yesterday to voice their opposition to the sport at its biggest event of the year.
The protest, held on the final day of the three-day meeting, took place outside the Powerstown Park venue in Clonmel, and was organised by members of the Animal Rights Action Network (Aran) and the Irish Coalition Against Blood Sports.
In previous years, protests against the coursing meeting attracted large crowds but the introduction of muzzling of greyhounds in 1993 muted some of the opposition.
John Carmody of Aran said yesterday that muzzling “has not stopped the cruelty to the hare”. Hares still got tossed into the air and suffered broken bones and heart attacks.
“We are extremely heartened by today’s turnout, which is one of the highest we’ve had in recent years,” Mr Carmody added.
He called on Government politicians to support moves by some Independent TDs to introduce legislation banning hare coursing. In Britain and Northern Ireland hare coursing had been banned for the last number of years, he said. “I think we’re behind the times in this country, politically, in terms of animal welfare.”
However, he predicted such a ban would come into force before long.
“We’re finding an increase in support for our campaign. It’s going to take a couple of years, but we are going to get hare coursing banned.”
In response, the chief executive of the Irish Coursing Club, DJ Histon, said: “If you balance it against the number of people inside [the venue], against the number of people outside, that tells its own story.”
This year marked the first in the national meeting’s 88-year history when the action was held over a weekend, culminating with finals on a Monday.
Previously it has always been held from Tuesday to Thursday in the first week of February.
Attendances were reported to have increased by about 20 per cent this year following the move. “If people have a certain view on coursing, they should come to a coursing meeting and see for themselves what it’s like,” Mr Histon said.
Visitors to the event came from the US, mainland Europe and particularly the UK, where coursing has been banned for a number of years.