Three weeks after issuing a licence which allows coursers to net thousands of hares for use as live bait for greyhounds, the Minister for Arts and Heritage Heather Humphreys made her way to Birr Castle in County Offaly to attend a game fair which celebrates the killing of Irish wildlife.
Minister Humphreys, who has refused to meet groups campaigning against bloodsports, was more than happy to perform the opening ceremony at an event which attracts those who blast wildlife to death, unleash lurchers and terriers to attack and kill foxes, use packs of hounds to terrorise and tear foxes apart and send ferrets underground to catch and injure rabbits.
The Minister with responsibility for our Wildlife Act was photographed at last weekend’s Birr Game Fair which promotes itself as being of interest to “the most discerning” hunters and shooters.
Minister Humphreys was a “VIP Guest” of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) whose members are responsible for the shooting of tens of thousands of foxes, deer, birds and other creatures.
In a caption beneath the photo of Minister Humphreys, NARGC described the event as “another great Country Fair” but it seems not everyone was so impressed. Among the negative feedback was:
– “Someone tell me what was good about it. Taut [sic] it was the worst yet” (this comment has since been deleted)
– “Not worth the money very disappointing,”
– “[Ticket prices] a bit steep considering all that was on show”
“Overall it was a huge disappointment for me,” said another who complained about a certain trader no longer having a trade stand at the fair. The reason for this, claimed a man who responded, is that “it’s very hard to watch the stands as there’s a lot of thief’s [sic] about – that’s the reason he stopped coming.”
A person from Kilkenny was even more scathing: “I was at ur fair Saturday it was very poor, loads of stalls missing, everything priced to high, food stands pure rip off, entry fee to high and there was not as many people there as ya think. It was very poor Saturday. A friend of mine was never at it before Saturday and he said he won’t be seen at it again.”
Apparently prompted by the negative feedback, the fair organisers posted this message: “Could we remind people that while we welcome discussion please keep it within the bounds of good manners. Swearing will definitely will [sic] not be tolerated in any circumstance.”
In an email to the Minister’s office, ICABS once again highlighted the appalling cruelty involved in fox hunting, digging-out and terrierwork. We included images showing the suffering caused to animals by hunters.
“I have written to the Minister asking to meet her to discuss [hare coursing cruelty] and the problem of gangs roaming the countryside with lurchers and killing hares, but so far I haven’t had a response,” ICABS director Aideen Yourell stated. “It seems that while the Minister is happy to meet with the bloodsports enthusiasts, she has set her face against meeting with those of us campaigning for better protection of Ireland’s wildlife.”
The photo showing Minister Humphreys posing next to hunting representatives can be viewed at: