Visitors from Britain could be barred from hunting with Irish packs when foot-and-mouth regulations are lifted to allow the sport to recommence.

“This would be part of our reassurancefor Irish farmers over whose land we ride,” said James Norton, spokesman for the Hunting Association of Ireland, which represents the hound sports.

The association has made this point in a protocol it has submitted to the Irish Department of Agriculture on the conditions under which it would expect hunting to resume. This will be examined by a committee of veterinary and agricultural experts, which will report to government.

“We would regret refusing visitors from Britain, because we usually welcome them, but the disease stems from there and the threat is extremely serious in Ireland, where farming is a major factor in our national as well as rural economy,” said Mr Norton,

He said that visiting between Irish packs would also be discouraged for some time after hunting resumes.

Irish masters are pessimistic about a normal start to their season this autumn in view of continuing cases in Britain. An unofficial view from the Irish government is that hunting in Ireland could not resume until at least a month after the last case was confirmed anywhere in the British Isles.

For full report see Horse & Hound (16 August)