Protests at hare coursing event in Clonmel

Mattie McGrath TD barracked by protesters and animal rights activists on final day of national coursing finals

The National Coursing Finals in Powerstown Park, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, which was picketed by protesters and members of Animal Rights Action Network (Aran). Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The National Coursing Finals in Powerstown Park, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, which was picketed by protesters and members of Animal Rights Action Network (Aran). Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A small group of protesters yesterday picketed outside the venue for the final day of this year’s National Coursing Meeting.

The picket was led by members of the Animal Rights Action Network (Aran), who have called on the Government to allow a free vote on coursing in the Dáil in their attempt to have the sport banned.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, a supporter of coursing, was barracked by protesters who shouted “shame, shame, shame on you” as he arrived at the Powerstown Park venue in Clonmel for the event. He spoke to some of the campaigners for several minutes before proceeding to enter the racecourse.

Animal Welfare Act

Eamonn Daly of Aran said the group supported Dublin-based TD Clare Daly’s move to amend the Animal Welfare Act to outlaw coursing. “If TDs were given a free vote it would be interesting to see what support would be there,” he said.

Some 10 protesters had arrived at the venue by 12.30pm yesterday, although more had been ready to attend the originally scheduled final day last Monday before the meeting was postponed because of frost.

“Unfortunately today we’re not expecting too many supporters,” Mr Daly said.

“We had about two dozen last Monday when the final was originally due to happen. People had other commitments today. We might be small in number but we’re big in heart.”

Several thousand people attended the third and final day of the national meeting, estimated to be worth about €6 million to the economy of Clonmel and surrounding areas.

Doing things right

Irish Coursing Club president Brian Divilly said the organisation was “doing things right” and described the numbers protesting as “a poor show”, particularly for a Sunday. “The dogs are muzzled, it’s a great sport and great for the economy of Clonmel. It creates a lot of jobs. There was no hare killed here this week.”

The protesters were “quite within their rights” to voice their opinions, he said.