Sir, - In the Christmas Eve edition of The Irish Times I was amongst other things accused by the Irish Council against Blood Sports of making misleading comments to your readership. I would be grateful to be afforded the opportunity to reply to this and other charges levelled against me. During early 1995 a spokesperson for the Irish Council against Blood Sports stated in the course of a live radio debate with the undersigned on Midlands Radio 3 that their national membership consisted of 6,000. However, after sustained pressure from the National Association of Regional Game Councils, they were forced to concede in the Cork Examiner in August 1995 that the actual membership figure was a mere 16. Nothing can hide this fact. Not even the notion of moral and financial supporters. I therefore strongly reject any suggestion that I may have misled readers on this point.

Mr Samways advised me to be "more careful" as my figures for shooting supporters could be seen as equally misleading. This is a strange piece of advice as nowhere, in my letter of December 18th to The Irish Times did I issue figures for shooting supporters. The figure I issued was for the combined strength of the hunting, fishing and shooting organisations in Ireland.

Mr Samway proceeds to challenge me to produce the evidence that the Irish Council against Blood Sports is secretly campaigning against shooting. I never stated this. I stated that the council was attempting to conceal its policy of opposition to game shooting from the general public. A spokesperson for the council stated in the course of a radio debate (Highland Radio) that the organisation is indeed opposed to game shooting, and the only reason that they were not actively campaigning against it is that they are too busy with other campaigns. Mr Samways will discover in time that his council's spokespersons do not always sing from the same hymn sheets.

Finally the council's attempt to score a cheap point against the Irish shooting community by introducing the Dunblane tragedy into the debate is most regrettable and I hope that they will reflect on the tactic. - Yours, etc.,

National Association of Game Councils, 6 Sandford Road,


Dublin 6.