Backbench revolt on stag hunting


Madam, – Christy Reynolds, the Ward Union Hunt chairman said, “Take the Ward Union down next Tuesday and I guarantee you the hare hunting will be next” (Home News, June 28th).

So, that’s one more reason to support the ban.

– Yours, etc,

MICHAEL FINLAN, Avenue du Geai, Watermael-Boitsfort, Belgium.

Madam, – Reading through a transcript of the Dáil debate on stage two of the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill which proposes a ban on stag hunting, I am reminded of the moves to ban bull- and bear-baiting in Britain in the early 1800s.

When MP for Galway Richard Martin introduced his Bill to abolish the two blood sports, supporters of these activities subjected him to almost-non stop interruptions, accused him of attacking the “harmless and manly sports of the countryside”, and of seeking to deprive decent citizens of their time-honoured recreations.

They heaped praise on bull- and bear-baiting, enlarging on the benefits such “field sports” brought to society and even, they claimed, to the animals themselves since, they argued, the bulls and bears would die of some other, less humane cause if the sportspeople did not dispatch them via the baiting dens.

Pro-baiting MPs warned that the baiting ban would result in people losing their livelihoods, thus causing endless hardship to countless innocent families and to the communities in which the baiting thrived.

Sound familiar? MPs opposed to the ban also said it would represent the “thin end of the wedge”. That prediction proved true to an extent, because the abolition of bull- and bear-baiting was followed by similar bans on cock-fighting and badger-baiting. More than a century and a half later, in 2004, the British parliament banned hare coursing, fox hunting, and stag hunting.

And only last week, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to ban hare coursing.

So I believe Minister for the Environment John Gormley has history on his side. He needs to remain focused on the proven fact that stag hunting is about terrorising deer for fun, and not be swayed by the plethora of excuses and feeble arguments put forward by opponents of the Bill.

– Yours, etc,

JOHN FITZGERALD, Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, Lower Coyne Street, Callan, Co Kilkenny.