Ireland is 1 of 3 EU countries where hare coursing is legal.

It’s hare and not going anywhere

There were some heated disagreements within Cork County Council recently as a motion calling for a nationwide ban on hare coursing was strongly opposed by a huge majority of councillors.

Bringing the joint motion to the chamber were Green Party councillors Alan O’Connor and Liam Quaide who called upon elected members to vote on whether the centuries old rural pursuit of hare coursing should be banned in Ireland.

Addressing the room, Cllr O’Connor pointed out that Ireland is only 1 of 3 countries in the EU in which hare coursing is still legal, saying it is “not justifiable that animals should be terrorised in the name of fun” in modern Ireland.

He said: “The accepted wisdom of yesterday can often change for the better and traditions can change as well.

“In this case, I think an attitude towards hare coursing does speak in general to how we as a society treat animals in our care. I think it is cruel, I think it's fair to say that. Now, nature is cruel of course - red in tooth and claw. Every robin is a worm stabber and every thrush is a snail smasher as well, but as human beings we have the capacity to decide to be more or less kind to our fellow creatures.”

Fellow Green Party Member Cllr Liam Quaid added: “I don't accept the contention by supporters of hare coursing that this gratification in animal suffering is intrinsically part of the culture of rural Ireland, nor is it any attempt to ban hare coursing an attack on rural Ireland.”

However, the motion was met with fierce resistance from councillors with a vote of 36 against, 4 for and 3 abstentions seeing it go no further in County Hall.

Fine Gael Cllr Eileen Lynch, who has been involved in greyhound coursing and racing since a young age, led the objections.

She said: “For me and many others this is part of our heritage, our culture and our traditions. Like many other rural pursuits which the Green Party are trying to remove from the rural landscape, coursing is a part of rural Ireland.

“I accept not everyone is supportive of it and of course they're entitled to their opinion but for my 2 colleagues here to seek that a sport that has been in existence for hundreds of years would be banned with the strike of a pen with no knowledge of it, it’s incredible.

“For a start, this motion seeks to call on the Minister for Agriculture to ban coursing. I'd like to inform my Green Party colleagues that the coursing license, which is issued annually to the Irish Coursing Club, is in fact issued by the Minister for Housing and Heritage.”

Speaking in the Dáil in June, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O'Brien TD said: “The Irish hare is protected under the Irish Wildlife Acts and can only be captured, tagged or killed under licence. The hare is also listed on Annex V of EU Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) and this listing requires member states to manage the hare sustainably.”