All eyes on the Greens as TD calls for hare coursing to be banned

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TD Paul Murphy has called or cross-party support for the Bill.

RISE TD PAUL Murphy has introduced a new Bill that seeks to ban hare coursing in Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, he called on all parties to support the proposed legislation that would see anyone who takes part in coursing fined €1,000, while they would also face up to six months in prison.

“It’s beyond time for Ireland to ban hare coursing. We’re one of only three countries in the EU that hasn’t moved to ban it,” he said, stating that it is even banned in Northern Ireland and the UK.

“Hare coursing is a really cruel and barbaric practice. Every year, over 5,000 hares are captured in the wild, they are held in captivity, in very close confinement to each other when they’re solitary creatures. They’re trained in which way to run and then they’re coursed.

“They’re released down a track, they run, and they’re chased by two dogs which are ten times their size.”

Ramping up pressure on the Green Party – which has a clear policy against hare coursing and voted in favour of similar Bill four years ago – Murphy called for them to back the Bill, along with the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Other than the Green Party, the above parties voted down former Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan’s Bill in 2016. 

At the time, Fair City and Father Ted actresses backed the Bill.

Prior to O’Sullivan’s proposed legislation was a Bill calling for a ban taken by the late TD Tony Gregory in 1993 – and it also failed to pass.

In the Dáil today, Murphy appealed to Sinn Féin to change their policy position on the issue.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the party would not be changing its position:

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“We do not support a ban on hare coursing. We believe that Irish hare coursing practices should be regulated to ensure sustainable wildlife management and to minimise unnecessary suffering to the animals involved. We believe that the banning of hare coursing would drive it underground and remove current regulations, which are essential to protect the animals involved.”

While Sinn Féin has stood firm on its position, all eyes will be on the Green Party and how they vote.

Murphy criticised Arts Sports and Tourism Minister Catherine Martin for telling her party in the leadership hustings that if her partners in government vote against a Bill on hare coursing, then she would have to do the same “with the heaviest of hearts”.

Murphy said the animals and the campaigners fighting for the end of the practice will not care how “heavy your heart is”.

Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said in July that “we all want to see hare coursing ended”, however he added that they could not get the commitment in the programme for government. He indicated that there could be “kick back” if the party votes against its own policy on the matter.

“It is time to ban this cruel process,” he told the Dáil.

The Green Party failed to get a ban on hare coursing in the programme for government.

The Green Party failed to get a ban on hare coursing in the programme for government.

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