Hare coursing damaging Irish tourism

16 Aug


Backing barbarous hare coursing that damages tourism
Letter to the Editor
Irish Independent, 15th August 2016

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley says he’s concerned that a perception of corruption in Irish sport might have an adverse affect on our tourism industry.

I’m sure he stays up all night worrying about our sporting reputation abroad. Mr Dooley was one of 114 TDs who voted against a Dáil Bill to abolish live hare coursing in June. I wonder if he and the other politicians who see fit to allow this cruel practice to continue have any concerns about the negative image it presents internationally.

Hare coursing is about as far removed from the Olympic spirit as you can get. Instead of promoting fair competition or equality of opportunity, it involves an unequal contest between pairs of hyped-up greyhounds pitted against the gentlest creature in the Irish countryside.

Since the rejection of the anti-hare coursing bill by our politicians, video footage of hares being mauled, forcibly struck, and tossed into the air like rag dolls for fun at Irish coursing events have spread like wildlife across the globe via social media. Some of the footage shows the terror in the eyes of the innocent creatures as they twist and turn and dodge on mud-sodden or water-logged fields in the depths of winter. And the child-like screeches of the hares can be heard in some instances … a pitiable sobbing that has failed to elicit a response from our political establishment

People everywhere are now seeing what our national parliament endorsed as a legitimate sporting activity: a practice banned in almost all the jurisdictions that once permitted it … a “game” that shuns publicity. The events card at every fixture carries the stark warning: ‘All Unauthorized Photography Strictly Prohibited’. People have been beaten up and/or ejected from coursing events for attempting to gather evidence of what goes on.

Hare coursing has the potential to hurt our tourist industry in the long term. Animal welfare groups in several countries are already advising people to boycott Ireland over a “sport” that makes the doping scandals look harmless by comparison.

The politicians who support this mediaeval barbarism should hang their heads in shame.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny



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