Campaigning against an Irish hunting ban has notched up a gear with the launch of Rural Ireland Says Enough (RISE).
RISE was kicked off on 21 January by the Hunting Association of Ireland (HAI) to “mobilise public and political opinion in support of [Ireland’s] traditional field sports and rural pastimes”.
Last year, H&H reported the proposal to ban stag hunting — and close down Ireland’s only staghounds, the Ward Union hunt — by the Irish coalition government.
Spokesman for RISE, Liam Cahill, said: “The threat to stag hunting is the thin end of the wedge. Fox hunting, hare hunting and coursing will be next and other field sports will follow.”
The RISE campaign focuses on three parliamentary acts the HAI believes represent an imminent threat to hunting.
These are the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 — which would place regulations, including microchipping, on all Irish hunt kennels; the Wildlife Amendment Bill — which seeks to ban stag hunting; and a proposed Animal Health and Welfare Bill — which the HAI believes could be used to impose restrictions upon — or even ban — hunting.
Mr Cahill added: “These proposals represent a wider, fundamentalist Green Party agenda that is being foisted on people.
“For example, three successive environment ministers promised that hunt kennels would be excluded from the legislation to regulate puppy farms, but the draft bill put before the [Irish parliament] last Tuesday [26 January] includes hunts.
“The Green Party wants to put hunts out of business by subterfuge.”
Each TD (Irish MP) has been contacted by RISE and the group is pushing for a free vote on the Wildlife Amendment Bill, which is scheduled to be published between now and Easter.
James Phelan, of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association, said: “Our campaign seems to have moved in a very positive direction in the past couple of weeks — the message has hit home that Irish hunting is in danger.”
For more information on RISE, go to www.risecampaign.ie
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 February, ’10)