Up to 6,000 protesters took part in a demonstration at the weekend organised by RISE (Rural Ireland Says Enough) – outside the Green Party’s annual convention in Waterford.
They are opposed to plans by Green Party leader John Gormley to ban the Ward Union Stag Hunt and are concerned about the proposed Animal Health and Welfare Bill which was described as “a fella on a bike in Dublin telling you how to run a farm”.
Addressing the crowd on Saturday, businessman and panellist on RTÉ’s The Dragon’s Den Gavin Duffy said the demonstration was taking place “not to send a message to the Greens, because they won’t be around much longer, but to send a message to Fianna Fáil: Will you wake up lads”.
He said rural Fianna Fáil TDs need to be more alert because “your chances of getting back in are not great as they are. But you stand no chance if you take on rural Ireland”.
He said many of those protesting were traditional FF voters. “When you placed that vote on the ballot paper you didn’t know your worst nightmare was coming through, that your vote was a vote for the Greens,” he said.
Mr Gormley said: “The protests outside confirm only one thing – that we are making a difference in Government.
“Those on horseback and on the soapboxes should know this; your actions serve only to make us more determined than ever to make the changes that are needed.”
Mr Duffy claimed that Mr Gormley “does not understand and, moreover, does not care about the countryside or rural Ireland”.