Paul Murphy TD introduces bill to ban cruel hare coursing

16 Sep

A big thank you to Paul Murphy TD (RISE/Solidarity, Dublin South West) for today introducing to Dáil Éireann his Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill 2020 which aims to finally ban cruel hare coursing in Ireland.

Introducing the bill – which is co-signed by TDs Gino Kenny, Mick Barry, Richard Boyd Barrett, Brid Smith, Joan Collins and Catherine Connolly – Deputy Murphy condemned coursing as “a cruel, barbaric and outdated practice”.

“It has been banned across Britain and Northern Ireland and across all of the EU, apart from three countries, including Ireland,” he stated.

Read a transcript of Deputy Paul Murphy’s speech below and please scroll down for our latest action alert.

Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill 2020: First Stage
16 September 2020

Paul Murphy TD: “I’m very proud to introduce the Animal Health & Welfare (Ban on Hare Coursing) Bill 2020. It’s a bill to ban hare coursing. Hare coursing means capturing over 5,000 hares from the wild every year. It means holding them in captivity in close confinement despite the fact that they are solitary animals. It means training them and then it means them being coursed. In other words, having them run for their lives as two dogs ten times their size chase the hares to see which dog can turn the hare first. It means profits for a small few, like the gambling industry, which has sponsored events in recent years while hares are terrorised for a supposed sport.

The dogs being muzzled means the number of deaths has been reduced but over the last four seasons, 75 hares have still been killed. Many more have been seriously injured. Almost 600 hares were pinned to the ground in recent years. People should watch the videos online from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports which show hares being tossed into the air and thrown around by greyhounds.

This is the third time such a bill has been introduced – the first time by Tony Gregory TD in 1993 and secondly by Maureen O’Sullivan TD in 2015. I am following in their footsteps and also in the footsteps of the many impressive campaigners who have fought for this ban. I want to thank the National Animal Rights Association, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Not For Your Entertainment as well as many individual campaigners including Pauline McLynn for their support of this bill.”

I also want to thank the office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor for their very thorough and quick work in preparing what is a comprehensive bill. I also want to thank the co-signers of the bill – my Solidarity and People Before Profit colleagues Gino Kenny, Mick Barry, Richard Boyd Barrett, Brid Smith as well as Joan Collins and Catherine Connolly.

This is a cruel, barbaric and outdated practice. It has been banned across Britain and Northern Ireland and across all of the EU, apart from three countries, including Ireland.

Sometimes in defence of it, it is suggested that it is part of rural culture. That’s not the case. The origins of hare coursing is as a diversion of the British aristocracy – part of the gentry’s fondness for cruel and unusual entertainment to give them a thrill of power and brutality. The vast majority of people in rural Ireland have absolutely nothing to do with hare coursing. A RED C opinion poll in September 2019 found that 77% of people support a ban on hare coursing, including a majority of both urban and dwellers.

We’re not introducing this bill as a symbolic bill to make a point and then be forgotten about. We are serious about getting this bill passed. And the way we intend to do it is the same methods that the ban on wild animals in circuses and the ban on fur farming were won in the last couple of years. Solidarity TDs introduced bills to ban these cruel practices and campaigners outside the Dail, including those supporting this bill, built pressure on the political parties and as a result the government moved to ban.

When Maureen O’Sullivan’s bill was voted on in 2016, it received 20 votes in favour against 114. Even at that time, a majority of people in Irish society opposed hare coursing. And yet the political parties were wildly out of touch. As well as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and Labour voted against it, with Progressive Independents, Solidarity, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats and the Greens voting in favour. We know that many Sinn Fein activists were deeply uncomfortable with their vote against Maureen O’Sullivan’s bill. Two of their TDs – Dessie Ellis and Jonathan O’Brien were reprimanded by the party because they refused to turn up to vote against. We are appealing to Sinn Fein to change their policy as quickly as possible.

We also appeal to the Labour Party – which voted against last time around – to change its position, to support animal welfare and to support a ban on hare coursing.

One of the biggest questions that will be posed in terms of the vote on this bill at second stage – which hopefully will be in the next number of months – is about how the Green Party will vote. During the first ever debate on hare coursing in this house, [Green Party TD] Trevor Sargeant famously played a tape of a hare crying and wailing in the Dail to demonstrate the reality of what hare coursing means. The Green Party has a clear policy position of opposition to hare coursing but we know that [deputy leader] Catherine Martin told a leadership hustings that if Fine Gael and Fianna Fail vote against the bill, she would vote against it ‘with the heaviest of hearts’, she said. Bluntly, I don’t think that the hares or the animal rights campaigners will care about how heavy your heart is if you vote to continue this cruel practice.

Finally I’d like to encourage people to get involved in the campaign, to contact the campaigning groups and also to to contact their TDs and ask them to support this ban. Ceann Comhairle, it’s time to ban this cruel practice.


HELP THE HARES: Please urgently contact Darragh O’Brien TD – the Minister who is likely to be making the imminent decision on the licensing of hare coursing. Appeal to him to REFUSE a 2020-21 coursing licence and pave the way for a permanent ban on coursing.

Minister Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fail, Dublin Fingal)
Tel: (01) 618 3802 OR (086) 251 9893

Urge Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Green Party Ministers Malcolm Noonan (who has responsibility for the National Parks and Wildlife Service) and Catherine Martin (who has responsibility for wildlife) to act to ensure that no licence is issued for coursing.

Eamon Ryan
Leader, Green Party
Tel: 01 618 3894

Malcolm Noonan TD
Heritage Minister
Tel: (01) 6183148

Catherine Martin TD
Green Party Deputy Leader and Minister for Culture and Heritage
Tel: (01) 618 3018

Witness the cruelty of hare coursing in Ireland

With a RED C opinion poll confirming that a 77 per cent majority of Irish citizens want hare coursing banned (with just 9 per cent disagreeing with a ban), it is now time for politicians to consign this nasty bloodsport to history. Join us in contacting all TDs and urging them to act to ensure that a ban is urgently introduced. Visit the Oireachtas website for contact details for TDs

Urge Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to respect the wishes of the majority and ban hare coursing and all bloodsports.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Telephone: +353 (0)1-704 3630 OR +353 (0)1-640 3133
Tweet to:

Contact Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Green Party, Sinn Fein and Labour Party TDs and urge them to back a ban on cruel hare coursing.

Fianna Fail TDs;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Fine Gael TDs;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Patrick.O’;;;;;;;;;

Green Party TDs;;;;;;;;;;

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Labour Party TDs,,,,,

Please sign and share the petitions

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland

Ireland – Ban cruel hare coursing

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