Ward Union Hunt denies Saboteurs' claims of illegal activity

Story by Ann Casey

Saturday, 10th December, 2011 9:30am

A row had erupted between The Association of Hunt Saboteurs (AOHS) and the Ward Union Hunt as the former has announced a reward of €1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of illegal carted stag-hunters.

The anti-hunt group said it had taken this step because, despite the current ban on carted stag hunting, it believes stag-hunting is continuing.

However, the Ward Union Hunt has responded by saying it has never deviated from obeying the law and never will, and that the people of Meath would treat with contempt the "thirty pieces of silver" being offered by the Hunt Saboteurs.

Bernie Wright, spokesperson for AOHS, claimed its members have evidence that stag hunting is continuing and that the ban is not being properly enforced.

She said they were continuing to monitor hunts, but it is almost impossible to follow a stag hunt closely as they usually begin on private land and are fast and unpredictable.

Ms Wright claimed that sometimes an outlier - a deer left out from previous hunting days - is hunted and other times a stag is carried to the release area. "Up to 60 cars are usually blocking the roads in the area but the numbers have diminished since the ban," she said.

"Having succeeded in outlawing stag hunting after more than 20 years campaigning, we want to ensure the ban is effective in stopping this cruelty. Similar to the situation in the UK, it is left to the hunt saboteurs to get evidence of illegal hunting," she added.

"We have issued this €1,000 reward as many locals are regularly giving us accounts of hunting in their area. However, for fear of retaliation, this stops short of reporting their findings to gardai. We need the locals to help us."

Law

Christy Reynolds, chairman of the Ward Union Hunt, said members and followers of the hunt are law-abiding citizens. "Since the Gormley law was passed, we have made it clear that we operate 100% within the law. We underline this in a statement on our hunt card for this year. We have never deviated from obeying the law and we never will," he added.

He said the hunt clearly opposed the Gormley legislation, but would not break the law. "Instead, we continue to campaign and lobby for a repeal of that law. We believe that a clear majority of the new Dail would favour repeal if they got the opportunity to vote on it. It is our right as citizens to campaign like this and no group of self-admitted 'saboteurs' can deny us that right," Mr Reynolds added.

"The people of Meath will treat with contempt the 'thirty pieces of silver' being offered by the Hunt Saboteurs to betray the Ward Union," he added.

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