Parties' concern for animal welfare


Madam, – A few years ago I came across Eileen Battersby (An Irishwoman’s Diary, August 31st) on issues relating to horses’ abuse at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, and I know how deeply her concern for horse welfare runs. I share that concern, and would concur with her observation that this country has a deplorable record when it comes to animal welfare generally.

I was baffled, however, that in pointing out just how terrible the situation is for animals, the Green Party should be the target of her ire. The Greens are the only political party in this country to have shown any commitment to implementing legislative changes which will improve the lives of animals – witness the recent passage of the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill and the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill – and the forthcoming Animal Health and Welfare Bill which will bring basic animal welfare legislation in this country into the 21st century.

I find it strange Ms Battersby should have almost totally ignored the shameful attitude to animal welfare displayed by all the other political parties earlier this summer when the above mentioned Bills came before the houses of the Oireachtas. Fianna Fáil almost self-imploded because many of its members are so devoted to the barbarism of bloodsports that they couldn’t stomach a ban on stag hunting. Fine Gael promised that when they get back into government they will overturn the animal welfare reforms achieved by the Greens.

Labour reached a new low in cute hoor politics by doing a complete U-turn in its opposition to a ban on stag hunting. And Sinn Féin, the great protector of republican principles, dropped its historical opposition to bloodsports purely to save the seat of its North Kerry TD.

I don’t for a minute doubt the sincerity of Ms Battersby’s wish to improve the woeful state of animal welfare in this country. However, instead of sneering at the one political party in this country which shares her concern for animal welfare, her energies might be better spent challenging the Neanderthal attitude of the other political parties when it comes to animal protection. – Yours, etc,



Co Roscommon.