Over €10 million in grants to hunts around Ireland

9 Sep

Over €10 million in grants to hunts around Ireland copy

More than €10 million in grants have been shamefully paid out to hunts by taxpayer-funded Horse Racing Ireland, it has emerged. 

Further to a Freedom of Information request from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, the sickening details were released by Horse Racing Ireland – a body which has been granted over a BILLION euros in government funding since 2001.

HRI’s financial support to foxhunts continues despite a majority of Irish citizens wanting the bloodsport BANNED.

The Horse Racing Ireland funding is being pumped into the coffers of the bloodsport groups via grants to support foxhunt-organised point-to-point racing events.

On the Horse Racing Ireland website, fox hunts are invited to apply for “Point-to-Point Grant Payments”. The form states: “In order for a hunt to receive payment, they must follow the conditions/requirements and complete the grant application form.” Hunts can claim €6,500 “administration grants” for every point-to-point race event as well as prizemoney grants.

“Prizemoney of €800 per race is payable in respect of four-year-old maiden races and five-year-old maiden races [and] prizemoney of €1,500 per race is payable in respect of races other than four-year-old maiden races and five-year-old maiden races,” Horse Racing Ireland tells applicants. The hunts are now also receiving an additional €1,000 Covid-19 grant per race meet.

Point-to-point racing is a major fundraiser for foxhunts and is effectively propping up many hunts and supporting what is one of the country’s worst forms of cruelty to animals. It is believed that without the Horse Racing Ireland grants, many of the race events would not be viable and this would likely lead to the demise of foxhunts.

Last December, the Irish Field quoted the chairman of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association as saying that foxhunting faced “a very uncertain and challenging future” due to financial difficulties. It referred to “the significant financial impact of the Covid lockdown on hunt clubs” as a threat to hunting.

The documents obtained by ICABS show the massive scale of the payments, with over 80 hunts / point-to-point events listed.

In the past ten years, individual hunts have received hundreds of thousands of euros each for point-to-point racing events at one or more locations. Among them are:

United Hunt – €682,700
Duhallow Hunt – €635,250
Muskerry Hunt – €310,850
South Union Hunt – €239,850
West Waterford – €235,250
Wexford Hunt – €220,750
Louth Hunt – €213,800
Laois Hunt – €207,700
Carlow Farmers Hunt – €200,350
Westmeath Hunt – €200,250
Galway Blazers Hunt – €197,450
Iveagh Foxhounds – €187,300
Brosna Foxhounds – €180,900
Meath Hunt – €155,300
Ward Union (deer hunt) – €99,100

See the full list of hunts and grants at

The Irish taxpayer-funded Horse Racing Ireland’s grants are not only helping hunts in the Republic but also, incredibly, hunts in Northern Ireland. They have been paid more than €1.3 million since 2011.

Among the hunts in the North supported by Horse Racing Ireland are North Down (€285,800), East Antrim (€276,700), Mid Antrim (€194,400), Fermanagh Harriers (€194,300), Iveagh Foxhounds (€187,300), Tynan and Armagh Harriers (€106,100) and Newry Hunt (€96,100).

The money being claimed by hunts more than doubled between 2011 and 2017 – from €631,200 in 2011 to €1,374,550 in 2017. It rose again in 2018 to €1,434,950 and up to €1,440,600 in 2019. In 2020, when point-to-point racing shamefully continued during the pandemic (after some cancellations), the payments stood at over a million euros.

What an absolute outrage that government funds – through Horse Racing Ireland – are making their way into the hands of fox hunters. In allowing this, the government is disregarding the views of the majority of citizens who want foxhunting banned. A RED C poll found that 77 per cent want a ban on foxhunting, while just 12 per cent are against a ban.

Instead of giving financial support to foxhunts, the government should be outlawing this deplorable activity which causes horrendous suffering and death.

In foxhunting, foxes are pursued by a pack of hounds and chased to exhaustion. When caught, the foxes are knocked to the ground, bitten, disembowelled and pulled apart. Foxes who try to find refuge underground are pursued by hunt terriers, dug out of the ground and brutally killed.

As highlighted by ICABS in the past, foxhunts also receive money to cover the costs of doctors at point-to-points.

In 2017, then TD Clare Daly asked the then Agriculture Minister Michael Creed about “his views on the fact that public funds are channelled to hunt clubs via Horse Racing Ireland to meet the cost of providing doctors at each point-to-point – a cost which was previously borne by point-to-point organisers”. Minister Creed replied: “From 2017, the funding provided to the Turf Club / INHS Committee for Point-to-Points includes the cost of providing one suitably qualified medical officer at every point-to-point. This is to ensure that the appropriate level of care and attention is available for riders in the event of injury.”

In May of this year, Paul Murphy TD questioned Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue about “medical staff and the number of ambulances and ambulance crew members in attendance at racecourses and point-to-point meetings nationwide”

“Ambulance providers [at race meetings and point-to-point meetings] are all from the voluntary sector, with the Order of Malta being their main provider (the Irish Red Cross cover one racecourse, and the Civil Defence cover two racecourses),” Minister McConalogue told him. “To ensure the highest level of safety for riders, each fixture is serviced by three ambulances and the appropriate crew numbers which, as a rule, is a driver and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) on each ambulance.”

He revealed that “the daily rate for ambulances at race meetings is met 50/50 by the racecourses and Horse Racing Ireland” and that “the Order of Malta receives an annual grant from HRI”.

How galling that while sick and infirm citizens are languishing on waiting lists for vital treatment, hunts have the benefit of paid-for doctors and ambulances at their races.


Contact Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue and your local TDs and demand an end to Horse Racing Ireland’s grants to hunts.

Charlie McConalogue
Minister for Agriculture
Tel: 01 618 3199 or 01 607 2000
Email: minister@agriculture.gov.ie; charlie.mcconalogue@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CharlieMcConalogue
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@McConalogue

Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=33&disp=mem

Join calls for a ban on foxhunting in Ireland. Foxes should be protected, not persecuted. A RED C opinion poll, commissioned by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, shows that a 77% majority agree that the government should ban foxhunting. The poll found that just 12% disagree with a ban. Tell politicians to respect the wishes of the majority and ban foxhunting now.

Contact the leaders of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein, Labour Party and the Green Party and demand a ban on fox hunting and all bloodsports.

Micheál Martin
Leader, Fianna Fail
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

Leo Varadkar
Leader, Fine Gael
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

Eamon Ryan
Leader, Green Party
Tel: 01 618 3894
Email: eamon.ryan@oireachtas.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EamonRyanGP/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EamonRyan

Mary Lou McDonald TD
Leader, Sinn Fein
Tel: (01) 727 7102
Email: marylou.mcdonald@oireachtas.ie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryLouMcDonald
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MaryLouMcDonaldTD

Alan Kelly TD
Leader, Labour Party
Tel: 067 34190
Email: alan.kelly@oir.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alankellytd/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alankellylabour

Contact all your local TDs and urge them to push for a ban on foxhunting. Visit the Oireachtas website for names of TDs and their email addresses http://www.oireachtas.ie/members-hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=33&disp=mem

Keep hunters off your land

If you are a landowner, make your land off-limits to hunters. Find out more about how to do this on our Farmers/Landowners Page – http://www.banbloodsports.com/farmers.htm

Sign and share our “Ban Blood Sports in Ireland” petition

Witness the cruelty of foxhunting at

Please support our campaign with a donation


Paul Murphy TD: End state funding to horse racing

Fox hunting faces “very uncertain and challenging future” in Ireland

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