Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr John Gormley, has issued the Ward Union Hunt with a restricted licence to hunt under the Wildlife Act, 1976.

The hunt will not be allowed to chase a stag with hounds under the terms of the licence, which is subject to 28 conditions.

The Minister said: “The licence with the conditions I have granted to the Ward Union Hunt will allow for the hunting of stags in a manner which will provide for the protection of the stag and the general public. In effect it permits the Ward Union to release a deer to lay a scent trail along the course of the hunt, but I am insisting that the deer must be recaptured before the hounds are released and the full hunt gets underway.

“I believe that the conditions attached to the licence address my concerns from a wider public policy perspective about the public safety issues surrounding the hunting of a large animal by a large group on horseback and a pack of hounds through an increasingly urbanised countryside.”