Willie O’Dea TD asks why cruel coursing ‘is no longer permitted’

15 Jan

willie odea coursing dail question copy

A Limerick TD, who previously indicated support for a ban on cruel hare coursing, has this week asked the Minister for Agriculture why the bloodsport has been stopped.

In a Dail question, Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea asked “the reason coursing events which had been allowed take place during the run-up to Christmas 2020 due to its inclusion on an approved list of permitted sports are no longer permitted.”

Willie O’Dea previously assured the Irish Council Against Blood Sports of his support. Responding to an email in 2015 in which we appealed to him to push for a coursing ban, he stated: “I am happy to support this endeavour.” The following year, however, he was among the 114 TDs who shamefully voted against a proposed ban on coursing.

“It is sad that you have apparently changed your stance on this animal cruelty issue and are now acting on behalf of the small minority who get their kicks from watching defenceless hares running for their lives,” ICABS stated in an email to Deputy O’Dea this week. He was reminded that a RED C opinion poll found that 77 per cent of Irish citizens want coursing banned, while only 9 per cent want it to continue.

Addressing his question about why coursing has been removed from a list of exempted activities, we pointed out that multiple breaches of the HSE/Government Covid19 guidelines were identified at coursing meetings around the country – contrary to claims by the coursers that they “complied with all Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines”. This has fuelled fears that coursing contributed to the spread of coronavirus.

For example, coursing “judges” on horseback were seen without face coverings – despite an Irish Coursing Club notice which stated: “a mask or visor must be worn at all times.”

Vehicles were seen parked bumper-to-bumper at coursing with clusters of people nearby. Coursers stood and sat in close proximity, and simultaneously ran in to retrieve dogs, blatantly ignoring the 2-metre social distancing advice.

There were additional breaches at prize presentations, at which the Irish Coursing Club decided groups of four could gather for photos. “Mask to be worn for photographs,” they declared but several images posted online showed individuals side-by-side not wearing masks.

The Minister for Health was completely correct to halt coursing. At a time when just 10 people are permitted to attend a funeral and 6 a wedding, crowds of coursers were poised to recklessly continue congregating. Before they were stopped, up to 178 or more had been converging to watch hares running for their lives – two invited to come along with every greyhound to join the 30 club members already there “to facilitate the meeting”.


Urge Willie O’Dea to reconsider his stance on hare coursing and respect the wishes of the majority by pledging support for a ban.

Willie O’Dea TD
Fianna Fáil
Tel: (061) 454 488 or (01) 618 4259
Email: willie.odea@oireachtas.ie
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/willie.odea.3
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/@willieodeaLIVE

Urge Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to ban hare coursing and all bloodsports.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Email: micheal.martin@oireachtas.ie; info@fiannafail.ie
Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michealmartintd/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@MichealMartinTD

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Telephone: +353 (0)1-640 3133
Email: leo.varadkar@oireachtas.ie; finegael@finegael.ie
Tweet to: http://www.twitter.com/@LeoVaradkar
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeoVaradkar

Join us in urging Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan to permanently withdraw the licence which allows coursers to capture hares for their barbarity.

Minister Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fail, Dublin Fingal)
Tel: (01) 618 3802
Email: darragh.obrien@oireachtas.ie; minister@housing.gov.ie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DarraghOBrienTD
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DarraghOBrienTD

Malcolm Noonan TD (Green Party, Carlow Kilkenny)
Minister of State for Heritage
Tel: (01) 6183148
Email: malcolm.noonan@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votemalcolmnoonan1/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/noonan_malcolm

Please sign and share the petitions

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland

Ireland – Ban cruel hare coursing

Witness the cruelty of hare coursing in Ireland


In June 2016, Willie O’Dea was among the 114 TDs who voted against Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan’s bill which sought to ban cruel hare coursing.

In a January 2021 Dail Question, Willie O’Dea TD asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine “the reason coursing events which had been allowed take place during the run-up to Christmas 2020 due to its inclusion on an approved list of permitted sports are no longer permitted.”

In 2016, 2018 and 2019, voted in favour of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations which granted €80 million/€84 million/€84 million of taxpayers’ money to horse and greyhound racing.

In October 2015, Willie O’Dea expressed his support for the ICABS campaign for a ban on cruel hare coursing. Responding to an email in which we appealed to him to push for a coursing ban, the Fianna Fail politician stated: “I am happy to support this endeavour.”

In a May 2011 Dail question, Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Agriculture “his views on reports that the Irish Greyhound Board, a semi-State body, plans to export Irish dogs to China, a country which has a very poor animal welfare record; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

In 2009, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports welcomed a statement from the office of the then Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea, in which we were told that the Minister “fully supports” our campaign. (Defence Minister “fully supports” ICABS campaign)

“I understand your concerns regarding the practices of fur farming.” Willie O’Dea TD in a July 2018 email.

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