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Council under fire from bloodsports opponents

Story by Paul Murphy

Wednesday, 18th January, 2012 4:56pm

Council under fire from bloodsports opponents

Members of the Ward Union Hunt in Skryne on their first outing since the new laws came into force in 2010.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has expressed its "deep disappointment" at a motion passed by Meath County Council last week, calling on the government to reverse the ban on the Ward Union deer hunt.

The banning of this hunt in summer 2010 was overwhelmingly welcomed, not only by a majority in Meath but all over Ireland, the organisation said.

Last week, Meath County councillors voted overwhelmingly to call on the government to overturn the ban.

"Have the councillors who voted to support this motion an iota of compassion for the deer who suffered at the hands of this hunt for a century and a half?" asked Aideen Yourell, spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS).

"Clearly they are ignoring the wishes of the vast majority of decent, humane people in County Meath, who are opposed to the Ward Union. These compassionless councillors are also turning their backs on the farmers and landowners who have endured trespass and nuisance caused by this hunt over the years."

ICABS paid tribute to those councillors who voted against the motion and declared their opposition to "hunting cruelty".

Cllr Jimmy Fegan said he was voting against the motion because he "abhorred stag hunting" while Cllr Noel Leonard added that "I oppose stag hunting for the simple reason that it is cruel" and "there is no need for stag hunting in this day and age." He also made the point that "not one job has been lost as a result of the ban - the statistics are there to prove it".

In November, a spokesperson for Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, dismissed claims by Minister of State Shane McEnte that the Ward Union would be back. The spokesperson emphasised that there was "no such commitment in the Programme for Government" to reversing the ban.

A spokesman for Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan is also on record as confirming that "there isn't (a plan)" to reverse the ban and that "there is no legislation in the pipeline".

Meanwhile, Tanaiste and Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, has given several assurances that his party are against any reversal. "The Programme for Government contains no commitment to reverse the ban on stag hunting.

"The Labour Party position is as stated, we do not support reversal of the ban," he has said.

His personal assistant later commented that "there is no plan to revisit the issue".

Sinn Fein is also against reversing the Ward Union ban as is the Socialist Party.

ICABS said politicians like Shane McEntee and members of Meath County Council who continue agitating for a reversal of the ban should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. "It's now time for them to move on, respect the wishes of the electorate and accept that this hunting barbarity has no place in a civilised society," the group added.

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