Animal rights legislation

 

Madam, – Contrary to the statement made in your Editorial (“Animal rights legislation”, May 15th), the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 is not included in the renegotiated Programme for Government. The programme includes only a commitment to end stag hunting. This incorrect statement about the Dog Breeding Bill was first made at an Oireachtas Committee last Tuesday week by Deputy Trevor Sargent who appears to be quite unfamiliar with the contents of the programme for the Government he supports.

The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 goes beyond an attempt to ban the Ward Union Staghounds. It proposes to limit deer stalkers to one dog. This is a severe restriction on the existing practice of using more than one. Dogs are used in deer stalking for the humane purpose of quickly locating a wounded deer for the purpose of putting it down. They are not used to track live deer. Therefore, this change cannot be justified on any grounds of animal welfare. – Yours, etc,

LIAM CAHILL,

RISE! Campaign,

Ashbourne,

Co Meath.

Madam, – While I don’t question the paper of record’s environmental credentials, your Editorial (May 15th) surely takes recycling too far. In defending the Green Party’s Dog Breeding Establishments Bill, your Editorial naively accepts the superficial gloss placed on this legislation by its proponents and fails to subject it to the public scrutiny it so badly needs.

The assertion that this new regulatory system will be funded by the establishments concerned is optimism bordering on the delusional. I have studied this Bill carefully and I can assure your readers the massive bureaucracy this law will launch could only ever be sponsored by the poor old Irish taxpayer. This at a time when services dedicated to the needs of the human beings of Ireland – our hospitals, schools and roads – are having their funding slashed to the bone.

Your Editorial justifies this Bill by referring to the scandal surrounding badly-run puppy farms that involved cruelty to animals in what is a profitable business. I would never seek to excuse or condone any wrongdoing in such establishments, but surely the rigorous enforcement of existing animal welfare laws should put an end to these abuses?  Your Editorial concludes by airily dismissing the genuine concerns of Fianna Fáil TDs regarding this Bill as “shabby and short-sighted”.

Those of us in hunting might be forgiven for taking a more sceptical view of the Green Party’s sudden concern for the welfare of our hounds. Particularly in light of the written assurance given by John Gormley in February 2008 to his Cabinet colleague Minister Dermot Ahern that hunt kennels would be exempt from this legislation. Such an exemption already applies in the United Kingdom, on the sound basis that hunt clubs don’t sell puppies and so are not puppy farms.

Why has the Minister changed his mind? Can his U-turn be explained by the presence in the Green Party of animal rights extremists whose continued support for remaining in Government comes at a price?   As somebody who helps run hunt kennels  – cleaning, feeding, walking and caring for hounds on a weekly basis – I can assure your readers hunting folk do everything to ensure our hounds are contented and properly looked after. We are not opposed to some form of sensible regulation, but it must be agreed in consultation rather than imposed by diktat.

This new law will place an intolerable burden of red tape, regulation and punishment on our clubs. As voluntary organisations with limited funds, many of us could not possibly continue for any length of time and be in compliance with the draconian requirements demanded of us by this legislation, especially since so much of it is ambiguously worded to allow inspectors decide what constitutes law-breaking.

In your excellent series Renewing the Republic, a recurring theme has been the need for honesty in Irish politics. The Green Party has for many years been implacably opposed to field sports and while I fundamentally disagree with this position, it is one they are entitled to. It would be more honourable of them, however, if they were to state this openly rather than attempt any ban by stealth. – Yours, etc,

PHILIP DONNELLY.

Public Relations Officer,

Irish Masters of Beagles Association,

Oatfield Park,

Clane, Co Kildare.