Pro-hunt supporters today vowed they would not be knocked off course by today‘s publication of a draft law outlawing stag hunting with hounds.
Rural Ireland Says Enough (Rise) insisted they would continue lobbying TDs and Senators to throw out plans for the ban proposed by the Green Party.
The Wildlife Amendment Bill 2010 bans deer hunting with hounds and increases the maximum fines to €100,000 for wildlife-related offences.
But Liam Cahill, of Rise, said Environment Minister John Gormley still had a long way to go before it becomes law.
“He has many legislative hurdles to overcome and we’ll be vigorously resisting it at every step,” Mr Cahill said.
Under the new legislation, hunting deer with hounds will be outlawed.
The move would hit only one hunt in Ireland, the Ward Union in north Dublin and Co Meath.
Maximum fines will also be increased, with the first offence jumping from €500 to €1,000 and from €1,500 to €5,000 for a third offence. The maximum on indictment increased from €50,000 to €100,000. The fines were last increased 10 years ago.
Mr Gormley, who hopes to have the law enacted by the summer, said the legislation will have no impact on any other country pursuits such as fox-hunting, hare-hunting, coursing or deer stalking.
“I look forward to an informed, structured debate in the Dáil and Seanad on this Bill,” the minister said.
“I also look forward to the opportunity to dispel many of the inaccuracies and incorrect claims that have been made in recent weeks about this legislation.”
Mr Gormley said the new laws were being drawn up for animal welfare and public safety.
But Mr Cahill said there were more deer killed by motorists in Phoenix Park than in the hunt.
He also said every hunt conducted has been closely monitored by Government inspectors and no animal welfare issues have arisen.