Proposed stag hunting legislation defended

 

GREEN PARTY leader John Gormley has defended the planned legislation to ban stag hunting which he said was necessary in “an increasingly urbanised environment”.

In a statement to The Irish Timeslast night, he noted: “The Green Party does not shy away from the realities of rural living. Deer need to be culled when numbers are out of control and when damage is being done to trees or farmers’ crops. For this we rely on expert advice from the Parks and Wildlife Service.”

But he added: “The issue of stag hunting steps outside the simple issue of animal cruelty. It is one of safety in an increasingly urbanised environment.”

The ban is one of a number of animal welfare measures which were included in the renewed programme for government.

The pro-hunting group Rise! (Rural Ireland Says Enough!) claims that a ban on stag hunting is “the thin end of the wedge” and that “a ban on all field sports is part of Green Party policy and will follow when the timing suits them”. Mr Gormley said he was well aware of the importance of rural pursuits such as shooting and fishing which were “enjoyed by many Irish people”. He said there was no move to stop such country pursuits in the lifetime of this Government.

Green Party deputy leader Mary White and spokeswoman on rural affairs and hunting-related issues said the ban on stag hunting “is going to happen”.

She claimed the legislation was “vital in modernising the animal welfare protections in this country” and to halt “some cruel practices against animals”.

Fine Gael has said it will vote against the proposed ban on stag hunting and will repeal it if the party forms the next government.

A spokesman for the Labour Party said it had “not yet taken any formal decision” on how it would vote on the issue.