Green Party to feel wrath of field sports protesters

LARGE numbers of people opposed to Green Party legislation on field sports are expected to take part in a public protest at the party’s national conference in Waterford city this weekend.

Supporters of the RISE (Rural Ireland Says Enough) campaign claim their traditional field sports of hunting on horse or foot, coursing, game shooting and even angling are under threat.

RISE was formed last January by the Hunting Association of Ireland and FACE Ireland to promote and defend traditional rural sports from what it sees as imminent Green legislative threats.

Sixteen organisations represent an estimated 300,000 enthusiasts of traditional rural field sports. RISE has called for amendments to the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill, currently before the Seanad.

It is opposed to Environment Minister John Gormley’s proposal to ban the Ward Union stag hunt and is concerned about the implications for farmers and sports people of the proposed Animal Health and Welfare Bill. Oireachtas members and councillors are being lobbied and RISE claims strong support from jockeys, trainers, and bookmakers because of the severe implications the proposed legislation will have on horse racing and greyhound racing. The campaign also has a national petition seeking further support for its aims. Christy Reynolds, chairman of the Ward Hunt Union, Co Meath, claimed a tiny, vocal minority of “Green ayatollahs” are dictating a legislative agenda that threatens the livelihoods and pastimes of tens of thousands of people countrywide. Attacking Mr Gormley’s Bill to outlaw puppy farming, he said the proposed law had been drafted in such a way that scores of voluntary hunt kennels throughout the country were threatened.

“This is despite the fact that he concedes that they are run to strict standards,” Mr Reynolds went on.

“Unlike ‘puppy farms’, hunt kennels breed only a handful of pups each year to maintain the numbers in their packs and none of these are sold commercially.

“He is doing this in spite of a written assurance given by his predecessor, Dick Roche TD, that hunt kennels are not part of the problem and a similar assurance given by himself.”

- Saturday’s protest, intended to attract supporters from Waterford, Wexford, south Kilkenny, south Tipperary and east Cork, will assemble at 11am, opposite Dooley’s Hotel on the Quay, and proceed to the Tower Hotel at 12 noon.

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