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Nothing wrong with field sports

I read with interest your report “Tougher Laws Urged on Blood Sports” (Aug 26), quoting remarks made by John Carmody, director of the Animal Rights Action Network, ahead of a planned rally in Dublin last Sunday.

Mr Carmody wants the forthcoming Animal Health & Welfare Bill to include some kind of ban on what he describes as “bloodsports”.

It may seem like a mere question of wording to those less knowledgeable, but for we who devote our weekends to hunting, “bloodsports” is a loaded term used to demonise the traditional sporting heritage of small town/rural Ireland.

Your readers may be interested to learn of another rally that also took place on Sunday, Aug 26, at the Irish Game Fair in Birr Castle, organised by RISE — Rural Ireland Says Enough — in defence of field sports such as hunting, shooting and fishing. Hundreds of people gathered to show their support for traditional rural pursuits that are enjoyed across this island by many hundreds of thousands of people, from all walks of life, of all ages and social backgrounds.

It is no doubt purely a coincidence that the animal rights extremists organised their own event on the same day and they are, of course, entitled to lobby the political establishment for their own ends.

For our own part, the field sports community are constructively engaged with this Government and share Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney’s view that animal health and welfare legislation requires updating. This can best be achieved in a process that involves genuine consultation and a good deal of common sense.

Hunting people are devoted to the welfare of their animals — foxhounds, harriers, beagles, gundogs, greyhounds, terriers, spaniels, retrievers, horses, hawks and ferrets — spending most of their spare time, day in, day out, feeding, exercising and accommodating them at their own expense.

Fields sports nationally inject millions into the rural economy and act as a valuable draw for the domestic and international tourism market. Such an engine for rural employment and regeneration does not need tampering with.

Those in the political establishment who might be tempted to use field sports as a political football should understand that if they think they can score some easy points by restricting our traditional pursuits, then they are mistaken. We are watching play from the sidelines and stand ready to cross the whitewash whenever necessary.

Philip Donnelly

Chairman Hunting Association of Ireland

Clane

Co Kildare


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