Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Never before from The Irish Times, but this is special

I have never before 'lifted' material from The Irish Times, but this is special: it's a letter to the Editor from Mr John Fitzgerald (pictured above), a legendary hero of the fight against hare coursing and other so-called 'sports' in Ireland. The specific subject is stag hunting but Mr Fitzgerald - rightly, in my view - broadens his remarks on that vile pursuit to touch on the history of the battles fought by his honourable predecessors in our country. I thought the letter worthy of inclusion here.


"Madam, – Reading through a transcript of the Dáil debate on stage two of the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill which proposes a ban on stag hunting, I am reminded of the moves to ban bull- and bear-baiting in Britain in the early 1800s.

When MP for Galway Richard Martin introduced his Bill to abolish the two blood sports, supporters of these activities subjected him to almost-non stop interruptions, accused him of attacking the “harmless and manly sports of the countryside”, and of seeking to deprive decent citizens of their time-honoured recreations.

They heaped praise on bull- and bear-baiting, enlarging on the benefits such “field sports” brought to society and even, they claimed, to the animals themselves since, they argued, the bulls and bears would die of some other, less humane cause if the sportspeople did not dispatch them via the baiting dens.

Pro-baiting MPs warned that the baiting ban would result in people losing their livelihoods, thus causing endless hardship to countless innocent families and to the communities in which the baiting thrived.

Sound familiar? MPs opposed to the ban also said it would represent the “thin end of the wedge”.

That prediction proved true to an extent, because the abolition of bull- and bear-baiting was followed by similar bans on cock-fighting and badger-baiting. More than a century and a half later, in 2004, the British parliament banned hare coursing, fox hunting, and stag hunting.

And only last week, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to ban hare coursing.

So I believe Minister for the Environment John Gormley has history on his side. He needs to remain focused on the proven fact that stag hunting is about terrorising deer for fun, and not be swayed by the plethora of excuses and feeble arguments put forward by opponents of the Bill.

- Yours, etc,

 JOHN FITZGERALD, Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, Lower Coyne Street, Callan, Co Kilkenny."

John Fitzgerald has published a book called 'Bad Hare Days.' It's about hare coursing in Ireland. I recommend the book whole-heartedly. It can be bought from Amazon.co.uk -


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.