Health Service urged to end hare coursing project at Ballina centre

22 Jan

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ICABS is calling on the HSE to end a hare coursing project at its Ballina Training Centre for people with disabilities. In the “Mayo Mental Health News” newsletter, the cruel bloodsport was described as “the interesting new pastime offered by the Centre”.

Ballina Councillor Gerry Ginty has spoken out against the HSE centre’s facilitation of coursing, saying “it’s regrettable that this would be considered an appropriate past-time for service users” and expressing support for a ban on the activity. See below for reports from Daily Mail and MidWest Radio…

HSE under fire in hare coursing row
Irish Daily Mail, 16 January 2017

by Darragh McDonagh

A HSE-run centre for people with disabilities has caused outrage by involving vulnerable service users in the controversial sport of hare coursing.

The controversial activity has been facilitated by Ballina Training Centre, which provides therapeutic programmes and services for people with intellectual disabilities in Co Mayo.

It has emerged that staff and service users have been involved in training greyhounds for hare coursing and have even attended coursing events.

The HSE, which funds and runs Ballina Training Centre, has confirmed that the service has been supporting the activity for clients but added that this support did not constitute an endorsement or approval of hare coursing.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will face questions about the matter in the Dáil this week from Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who said that she was “appalled” that public resources were being used to expose vulnerable individuals to the controversial activity.

She added: “The coursing events they attended are the very places where independent documentary evidence of cruelty has been collected. It is absolutely outrageous.”

A recent issue of an internal publication called Mayo Mental Health News contained an article outlining the involvement of staff and service users of Ballina Training Centre in hare coursing.

The article stated that two greyhounds had been purchased and were being trained for coursing by staff and service users. It also referred to hare coursing as “the interesting new pastime offered by the Centre” and provided details of two “outings” to coursing meetings last year in Liscannor, Co Clare and Loughrea, Co Galway.

A spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called for the project to cease immediately, adding: “The idea of bringing vulnerable people to hare-coursing meetings to watch hares being used as live bait for greyhounds is outrageous. It is a totally inappropriate project for the HSE to be involved in.”

The HSE initially denied that the activity was being facilitated at the Centre and claimed that it “does not and has never run a hare coursing activity for its service users”.

However, when evidence of the Centre’s involvement in the activity was presented, a HSE spokesperson confirmed the described activity was supported by the service.

The spokesman said: “The activities described were identified and developed solely by service users…The nature of such community-based activities are the prerogative of the individual(s) and is supported by the service only in the context of fostering recovery and promoting mental health.

“The support of clients by staff in their wellbeing and recovery does not constitute an endorsement or approval of any such activity.”

Ballina Councillor says it’s regrettable that hare-coursing is being facilitated at a centre for people with disabilities
Midwest Radio, 17 January 2017

A Ballina councillor says it’s regrettable that hare-coursing is being facilitated at a centre for people with disabilities.

It emerged yesterday that staff and service users at the HSE-run Ballina Training Centre have been involved in training greyhounds for hare-coursing, and have attended coursing events.

The HSE confirmed that the service has been supporting the activity for clients, but added that this support does not constitute an endorsement or approval of hare coursing.

Ballina Independent Councillor Gerry Ginty, who’s involved with the horse and donkey sanctuary in north Mayo, says it’s unfortunate that hare-coursing is still legal in this country, as it’s illegal in many other countries including England, Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland.

Councillor Ginty said it’s regrettable that this would be considered an appropriate past-time for service users at the Ballina Training Centre, and said he’s totally opposed to the controversial sport.

 ACTION ALERT 

Join us in contacting the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE to demand an immediate end to the Ballina Training Centre’s involvement with cruel hare coursing.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris
Department of Health
Hawkins House
Dublin 2
Tel: 01 635 4000 or 01 618 3805
Email: ministersoffice@health.gov.ie, simon.harris@oireachtas.ie
Comment on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeputySimonHarris
Tweet to @SimonHarrisTD

Tony O’Brien, HSE Director General
Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 635 2000
Email: info@hse.ie, hselive@hse.ie
Tweet to: @hselive @dghealthservice
Comment on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hselive
Callsave: 1850 24 1850

Ballina Training Centre (096) 71976

Please sign and share the petition
https://www.change.org/p/stop-health-service-project-involving-people-with-intellectual-disabilities-in-hare-coursing

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