Pro-coursing Westmeath Councillors should be ashamed of themselves

8 Dec

westmeath topic - councillors whould be ashamed of themselves

The Westmeath County Councillors who rejected a motion calling for a ban on cruel hare coursing should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves – Read Aideen Yourell’s Letter to the Editor in this week’s Westmeath Topic…


Dear Editor,


The eleven Westmeath County Councillors who rejected Cllr Hazel Smyth’s motion to call for a ban on coursing, at last week’s Council meeting, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, especially those who had in the past declared their opposition to bloodsports.  


Among the spurious arguments put forward for rejecting the motion was Cllr. Andrew Duncan’s assertion that hare coursing was an “integral and intrinsic part of the rural fabric”. With just one coursing club in Westmeath holding an annual 2-day cruelty fest every October, attended by a small crowd of coursers, it’s hardly “integral” or “intrinsic” to the rural fabric! 


Cllr. Duncan also declared that after hare coursing was banned in Northern Ireland, it went underground. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. In fact, the two coursing clubs in the north, Dungannon and Ballymena, travel to the south to hold their cruelty meets in conjunction with clubs in Cavan and Tubbercurry, so they come to our republic to engage in a cruel activity that is a criminal offence in their own jurisdiction! In any event, not introducing legislation to outlaw hare coursing for fear of driving it underground is a total cop-out! 


Cllr. Johnny Penrose declared that even GAA sports would be banned, if hare coursing was outlawed, while Cllr. Frankie Keena said coursing was “well regulated”. Indeed, the coursers’ licence to snatch hares from the wild for coursing has thirty-four conditions attached, but these are almost impossible to enforce due to a lack of manpower in the National Parks & Wildlife Service. 


However, none of these regulations or the presence of vets or National Parks rangers at coursing meetings can prevent hares being mauled, injured or killed by greyhounds, and no regulations will alleviate the terror and stress endured by these poor creatures cruelly snatched from the wild in nets to be used as live bait for greyhounds.


We are at present experiencing climate change and a loss of biodiversity, and Ireland’s hares are not immune. Our hare population has declined due to loss of habitat and modern farming methods, and even the coursers are having difficulty in getting hares for their cruel game. For example, in the 2011/2012 hare coursing season, the coursers snatched 5,734 hares from the wild, compared to 3,690 in the season 2021/22, a drop of almost 36% in ten years.


The eleven Councillors who voted down Cllr. Smyth’s motion to call for a ban on hare coursing are totally out of touch with the majority of their constituents’ views on this cruelty issue. A 2019 RED C poll revealed that 77% of the Irish citizens agree that the government should ban hare coursing and fox hunting, and when broken down into urban and rural, the poll showed that 78% of rural dwellers and 76% or urban dwellers were in favour of a ban, so there is no urban/rural divide on this issue. It’s abundantly clear that a huge majority want to see hare coursing and fox hunting banned.


We commend Cllr. Smyth for bringing forward this motion to outlaw this barbarity, and Cllr. Louise Heavin for supporting it. 


Aideen Yourell

Campaign Director




Councillors oppose motion seeking ban on hare coursing


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