Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 1999: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Today I am presenting to the House, for Second Stage consideration, the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 1999. I regard this as an extremely important item of legislation which will considerably strengthen the protection that is afforded to our important natural habitats and our wild flora and fauna. The Bill has, for various reasons, had a long gestation period of 15 years. Deputies will be aware that during that time its publication has been called for by politicians from all sides and by a wide range of conservation groups and people interested in conservation issues. I was one of those politicians who called for publication of the Bill while in opposition and it is a source of great satisfaction to me, therefore, to present it to the House.

Despite the delay in introducing the Bill, the final product is a good one which seeks to approach the sometimes very complex issues arising in nature conservation in a measured and balanced way, but also in a way that will effectively achieve the desired objectives.

Ireland has been no different from most of the rest of the world over the years in that its natural environment has come under increasing pressure. Increased industrialisation, other development pressures, more intensive farming and a young and ambitious population that quite legitimately seeks to better its material standard of living have contributed to an increasing level of encroachment on all elements of the natural environment, including wildlife. There are a number of encouraging signs, however, that the tide has turned, or is at least turning, at global level and key international initiatives illustrate this. For example, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, is an initiative to stop the wholesale loss of species and habitats on a global basis, which has been progressing at an alarming rate in recent years. Ireland has ratified this convention, to which the Bill specifically refers, and we are committed to its effective implementation.

The EU Birds Directive was given effect in Ireland in 1985 and in 1997 the EU Habitats Directive was transposed into Irish law. These two directives provide a comprehensive system of protection for wild habitats and species that are important from a European Union perspective.

We in Ireland are perhaps better off than many other countries in that we still have a great deal that is worth protecting from the environmental perspective. As the Minister responsible for the conservation of Ireland's wildlife, I am committed to doing what is necessary to that end and this Bill is a key element in that effort. Effective conservation does not mean disregarding human needs or the need for ongoing development. The objective is to achieve a satisfactory balance whereby the needs and concerns of all can be reconciled. Conservation is achieved by ensuring human activity takes due account of the needs of conservation and is sustainable, but this in no way implies people should be excluded from ecologically important areas or that it should become progressively more difficult for people to live in such areas.

The Bill is a logical development and extension of our wildlife conservation effort and seeks a balanced and effective solution to some of the major issues before us. Broadly, it seeks to provide a mechanism for the statutory protection of natural heritage areas – NHAs; to make use of the NHA mechanism to provide statutory protection for the first time for important geological and geomorphological sites, including fossil sites; to generally strengthen the provisions for the protection of wildlife species and their habitats; to enhance, in the interests of conservation, a number of existing controls in respect of hunting; to introduce new provisions to regulate the activities of commercial shoot operators; to ensure and strengthen compliance with international agreements, in particular, to enable Ireland to ratify the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – CITES – and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds Agreement – AEWA; to increase substantially the level of fines for contravention of the Wildlife Acts and provide, for the first time, for the imposition of prison sentences, where appropriate; to provide mechanisms to allow me, as Minister, to act independently of forestry legislation, for example, in regard to the acquisition of land by agreement; to strengthen the protective regime for special areas of conservation – SACs – by removing any doubt that protection will in all cases apply from the time of notification of proposed sites; and to give specific statutory recognition, in light of Ireland's commitment to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, to my responsibilities, as Minister, for the conservation of biological diversity, which is a key concept of global ecology.

As this is amending legislation, it is relatively complex and I acknowledge that certain parts of it are quite technical in nature. I do not propose, therefore, to speak about every provision in it, but rather to concentrate on the main areas where it will make a difference and where public interest has been concentrated. I will begin with NHAs. One of the most significant impacts of this Bill will be the establishment of a system to afford permanent legal protection to NHAs against destruction or significant damage and provide for a system of compensation and appeals for NHAs similar to that already in place for SACs.

Members will be aware that NHAs are sites that have been identified as being among the most important areas for nature conservation from a national perspective. They differ in this from SACs and special protection areas – SPAs – which represent our contribution to the EU conservation network, although national and Community priorities coincide to a significant degree. When I took up office, the provisions included in the draft Bill proposed that protection for NHAs would consist of a six month moratorium on works backed up by compulsory purchase powers. There were grounds for believing that such an approach might not be the optimum one and I asked that a fundamental reappraisal of the NHA provisions take place as part of an overall review of the Bill.

As a result, there has been a major shift in emphasis from a six month temporary protection regime, backed up by compulsory purchase powers, to a system of permanent protection for NHAs which provides for restrictions on damaging activities and a compensation mechanism, and dispenses with the need for compulsory purchase. The provision of such a permanent protective system for NHAs is the right way forward. However, I was concerned at the proposal to include specific powers for compulsory purchase in the draft Bill. I was pleased, therefore, in light of the Government's agreement to provide for permanent legal protection against significant damage to NHAs, to agree to the deletion of the proposed provisions to allow for the compulsory purchase of land for wildlife conservation purposes. The fact that the European Commission had decided that the same level of financial incentives under REPS should be paid for both SACs and NHAs strengthened the logic of applying similar prescriptions to SACs and NHAs.

On the general issue of farming and conservation, there are frequent reports about the environmental impacts of farming and such reports are often couched in negative terms. It must be acknowledged that farming, as the principal activity in our countryside, has the capacity to exert a major influence on our natural heritage. However, I do not believe that most farmers want to damage their land or compromise the richness of what they can pass on to succeeding generations. It must always be remembered that the bulk of the areas that we are trying to protect consist of semi-natural areas, which have already been to some degree modified by human activity. These areas are often the result of traditional farming methods and yet they are now seen as among our most valuable ecological areas and worthy of preservation. Such areas require the continuation of sustainable farming activity for their survival and this must always be borne in mind when conservation regimes are devised.

The proposals in this legislation for the designation and protection of NHAs will be of interest to the farming community. The proposed package offers an equitable and effective way of safeguarding our nationally important sites of ecological and geological significance, while balancing the requirements of both the farming community and the environment. Farmers and other landowners should be assured that the designation of their land as NHAs will be dealt with fairly by the provision of incentive payments through REPS, or, in cases where it is not applicable or availed of, and where losses can be shown, by direct compensation through an Exchequer funded system. The new system will have no effect on land ownership.

The appeals mechanism that has been put in place for SACs, can, if necessary, be extended to cover any NHA appeals that might arise. The provision of such a mechanism for compensation and appeals – similar to that already in place for SACs – should be seen as a signal to landowners and farmers that the State intends to deal with them in a fair and reasonable way.

The Minister needs a little rest.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

I intend that the process of designating NHAs will take place on a phased basis and that it will be based on the procedures adopted and on the lessons learned in the context of the work that has taken place to date regarding the designation and notification of SACs.

Until now, there has not been a specific provision for the protection of areas or features of geological and geomorphological interest. These elements are an important part of the natural environment and, in particular, fossil records are an invaluable source of information about the distant past. We all heard with great interest of the fossilised tetrapod footprints found at Valentia, County Kerry. These footprints are now considered to be of world-wide importance. Perhaps as long as 400 million years ago, this creature left its footprints in a shallow tropical stream and the fossilised record of this event is now one of the threads from which scientists are trying to weave a fuller picture of our planet's past.

Our prime geological and geomorphological sites, including our fossil records, are extremely important and well worth protecting. As with our wild flora and fauna, we have an obligation to protect such sites and to pass them on to future generations in as intact a state as we can possibly achieve. My Department has had extensive discussions in this regard with the Geological Survey of Ireland – GSI – which has and will retain primary responsibility for this area. As I said earlier, this Bill makes provision for the designation and protection of NHAs selected, on the advice of the GSI, on the basis of their geological or geomorphological importance.

The Bill includes a number of provisions which significantly strengthen the level of protection afforded to protected wild birds and animals. For example, in relation to wild birds, the Bill permits the destruction or removal of a nest from an occupied house only if it does not contain the eggs or young of a protected wild bird. The examination and inspection of protected wild birds' eggs or nests, the taking of such eggs for hatching out for re-population or re-introduction to the wild, or the taking of photographs or videos on or near a nest containing such eggs, will also require a licence. The possession of an injured or disabled wild bird or its young while tending it and awaiting its release back into the wild will be subject to a licence, as will the continued possession of a wild bird that, for reasons of disability or other reasons deemed reasonable by me as Minister, would be unlikely to survive unaided if released to the wild.

Protected animals are also given additional protection. The existing exemption where it is not an offence to destroy a breeding place of a protected wild animal in the course of construction or other work is qualified by the addition of the word "unintentionally". Protection is now extended to include not only the breeding places of such animals but also their resting places which will particularly benefit bat roosts and other similar resting places. Zoology and other scientific pursuits will no longer be exempt from controls in relation to disturbance of breeding places as it is considered that even genuine zoological and scientific activity should appropriately be regulated in this way and the definition of what constituted genuine activity was open to broad interpretation and potential abuse. Provision is made for the possession under licence of a disabled wild animal, or the dependent young of a protected wild animal, to tend it in preparation for release back to the wild.

Considerable concern has been expressed in recent years about the loss of hedgerows and, in particular, about the unnecessary cutting of hedgerows during the critical bird-nesting period. Deputies will appreciate that the overall issue of the loss of hedgerows is not one that falls to be dealt with in the context of this Bill. I have, however, proposed a number of amendments to the existing provisions for the protection of birds nesting in hedgerows which I hope will help to encourage a more positive approach to the problem.

For example, I propose extending the period during which hedgerows may not be cut by changing the start-up date from 15 April to 1 April, thereby offering protection to birds who are breeding earlier than previously – the closing date remains 31 August; specifying that hedgerows may only be cut during that period by public bodies, including local authorities, for reasons of public health or safety, thereby seeking to ensure that routine maintenance in the cutting of hedgerows is avoided and that no unnecessary destruction of hedgerows occurs during the nesting period; and providing that, in cases where indiscriminate hedge-cutting appears to have taken place during the nesting period, I will have the power to request a statement from the local authority or other public body concerned seeking the reasons for the cutting and an explanation of the public health or safety factors involved. Hedgerows may still be cut outside the specified nesting period. However, during the nesting period, cutting may only take place for reasons of public health or safety or in the course of various exempted activities, for example, agriculture, forestry, land or other construction work.

Issues arising in the context of hunting, particularly those relating to animal welfare, have generated, and undoubtedly will continue to generate, considerable public debate. It is important to emphasise again that my statutory remit is specifically focused on conservation and I have no such remit in relation to animal welfare. That is principally a matter regulated under the Protection of Animals Acts, which are implemented by the Garda Síochána with ministerial responsibility resting with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

Deputies will know that a distinction was established under the Wildlife Act, 1976, between a licence to hold a gun and a licence to hunt game. The Bill provides that I as Minister may in the future make regulations requiring hunting licence applicants to demonstrate competence in relevant areas. Any such regulations would also apply to applicants for firearm certificates issued by the Garda Síochána which are deemed, by means of a suitable endorsement, as licences to hunt game birds and hares. The demonstration of competence by applicants would involve them showing knowledge of both wildlife legislation and certain species of fauna.

Other related provisions will enable me as Minister, if I deem it appropriate, to make regulations to control the illegal hunting of animals and birds, in particular deer, by issuing licensed hunters with tags to affix to the animals or birds they shoot; to provide that controls on hunting over State-owned foreshore and over inland lakes vested in the State are focused primarily on protected wild animals and birds, but include a mechanism whereby non-protected species may, by regulation, be brought within the scope of this provision; and to modify the existing controls on certain hunting practices, and the kinds of weapons and devices that may be used for hunting, in line with best modern international practice, for the purpose of safeguarding the conservation status of relevant animals and birds.

The Bill includes a totally new provision for the regulation of commercial shoot operators. Such operators either own or have access to shooting rights on lands which they use to provide hunting on those lands to others – usually non-resident tourist hunters – on a commercial basis. There are approximately 70 commercial shoot operators in the State, ranging from individuals or small-scale concerns to large-scale operations, and the sector is worth a substantial amount in tourism revenues.

Many of the issues arising in this context were discussed last year when the House passed the Firearms (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1998. That Bill was a temporary response to a High Court ruling which found that, while my obligations as Minister in relation to licensing were being adequately discharged, the procedures adopted in the assessment of the suitability in regard to nature conservation of applicants for hunting licences ordinarily resident outside the State were insufficient. In this regard, my Department is collaborating with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the preparation of new firearm legislation arising from the report of the Firearms Legislation Review Group, which was established by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and included representatives of my Department. It is intended to introduce a new Bill next year that will,inter alia, further amend section 29 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, on the issue of hunting licences to non-residents.

The main elements of the system proposed for the regulation of the business of commercial shoot operators will address the concerns expressed by Members when these issues were debated last year. I appreciate the co-operative approach shown during the process of formulating these provisions by groups with a particular interest in this area – especially the Association of Game Shoot Operators.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was adopted in Washington in 1973 in consequence of a recommendation by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The convention entered into force in 1975, having been ratified by ten countries. It aims to control international trade in certain species of wild animals, birds, and plants where such trade threatens such species with global extinction or where any state, being a party to the convention, requires the co-operation of other states to control trade in such species. To this end, the convention provides for a system of permits and certificates for regulating international trade by control of imports and exports, including re-export of specified species of wild fauna and flora. It also requires that national measures be taken, including the penalisation of trade in, or possession of these species. Species covered by the convention include species of tigers, parrots, snakes, cacti and pitcher plants, ivory and coral. It provides for a strict regime on import-export and re-export of endangered species of fauna and flora and their products.

The Minister must have been in west Limerick for a while.

Ireland signed the convention in 1974. The EU adopted the terms of the CITES Convention by way of regulations in 1982, with revised and improved regulations taking effect in 1997. My Department has actively participated in the enforcement of these EU regulations, and will continue to do so, but our legal advice was that ratification by Ireland was not possible under current legislation, which is inadequate in relation to provisions for the seizure of specimens and the imposition of adequate penalties.

A number of provisions in the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill are designed to correct this situation and to allow the ratification of CITES to proceed. The Bill provides specifically that I, as Minister, be designated as the management auth ority with primary authority for implementing the CITES regulations in the State. It also empowers me to designate additional management authorities and one or more scientific authorities for the purposes of CITES. In addition, the Bill sets out the circumstances in which it is an offence to contravene the CITES regulations. Strengthened provisions in relation to seizure and the imposition of penalties will meet the specific shortcomings that existed in the past that prevented the ratification of the convention by Ireland.

Other provisions of the Bill relating to trade in wildlife are being amended with both our own domestic requirements and the requirements of CITES in mind. These provisions will,inter alia, extend restrictions on the sale, purchase, and possession of protected wild animals and wild birds in the context of wildlife dealing; curb the unlawful advertising for sale of protected species of wild birds and wild animals and allow the application of restrictions, by regulations, to other non-protected species; empower me, as Minister, to further regulate and control, in the interests of wildlife conservation, the business of wildlife dealing, including the purchase and sale of protected wild birds and protected wild animals, together with their parts, products and derivatives; provide new machinery for the issuing of wildlife dealer licences, which will henceforth be issued directly by me, as Minister; allow a wildlife dealer whose application is refused to appeal the refusal to the District Court; and allow that where a wildlife dealer is convicted of particular offences under the Wildlife Acts, the courts may, in addition to any other penalty, revoke that person's wildlife dealing licence.

It is my intention that Ireland will proceed rapidly to ratify CITES, following enactment of this Bill.

The Bill provides for other important issues. For example, the scope of the legislation is being widened greatly. All fish species and aquatic invertebrates, whether from marine or freshwater ecosystems, were excluded by definition from the scope of the 1976 Act, and only a small number of species were brought within the ambit of the legislation by Ministerial Order. This meant that many thousands of species were left completely outside the Act's protective system. The new Bill will bring all animal and plant species within its remit, with the exception of a number of prescribed commercially valuable fish and invertebrate species.

To act as an effective deterrent and to reflect growing public concern about our wildlife, the Bill provides for substantially increased penalties, including custodial sentences, for those convicted of offences under the Acts. At present, the maximum penalty on summary conviction is £250 and the maximum penalty on conviction on indictment is £500. There is no provision for prison sentences. This amendment will increase substantially the level of fines that may be imposed on indictment to a maximum of £50,000 for the most serious offences. It will also introduce a pro vision for the imposition of prison sentences to a maximum of two years in certain circumstances.

Apart from the provisions relating directly to CITES, the Bill contains a variety of provisions which are important for wildlife conservation in the context of trade in wildlife and related issues. Alien species and the threats they pose to biodiversity are an increasing cause of concern worldwide and Ireland is no exception. Stronger provisions are being included in the Bill allowing controls to be exercised over the importation of all alien species into Ireland, and the release and establishment in the wild of alien species that threaten biodiversity.

I will refer to the extensive consultations that have taken place with interested parties since publication of the Bill and to express my appreciation to all those who made submissions on various aspects of it. In the course of the consultation process, a number of issues have been brought to my attention where a case for adjustment appears to exist. I propose to make a number of changes to the Bill on Committee Stage.

Section 46 proposes a ban on the use of lamps and similar devices in hunting any animal. A strong case has been made that this would restrict an existing practice whereby landowners control certain pest species. I propose to apply this control only in respect of protected species. I also propose to change section 51, which would have made it an offence to hunt with a dog, ferret or bird of prey, or to have control of a pack of hounds, on land without the owner's permission. It has become clear that this would impose new controls on existing legal forms of hunting, which were never intended, and I, therefore, propose to remove this change.

A number of other amendments – the majority of them technical – are being considered in consultation with the Attorney General and I will bring these forward on Committee Stage.

The Government and I are trying to provide for the protection of elements of our country's resources that we simply cannot do without or replace. There should be no debate about nature versus infrastructure, or any suggestion that protecting our environment and heritage, and particularly those parts of it which merit protection for the common good, will hinder our progress as a nation. Wildlife conservation and environment has never had a higher profile or greater popular interest and support than it has today. Neither have we ever been economically better off.

I have referred on a number of occasions to my efforts at achieving balance in this legislation. When I say balance, I do not mean balance in the sense that we will protect some parts of our heritage and allow others to be lost for any short-term gain, whether real or perceived. By balance I mean not only must we strive to ensure we deliver on our wildlife conservation objectives, but that we must, in so doing, seek to have regard to the economic and social well-being of people – most especially of the local people who live in, and, in many cases, have created and maintained, the areas of greatest importance to our natural heritage. We must seek to ensure that all interests can go forward hand in hand in a mutually supportive way.

All sides of this House will agree that it would be unthinkable for us to allow the most precious aspects of our natural heritage to be damaged or destroyed – not only our heritage, but that of future generations to whom we surely have a duty. We have to aim to guarantee their conservation and this I have sought to do in the Bill. Such conservation is an imperative, not only for wildlife conservation and for environmental reasons, but also for reasons relating to our economic well-being and quality of life.

This Bill is an important contribution to our nature conservation system which will make a real difference and which approaches the issues raised in a balanced and pragmatic way.

I commend the Bill to the House.

This side of the House does not intend to hold up this Bill unduly. The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 1999, was published on 29 June and it has come into the House in the closing days of December. I am not sure whether that is a reflection of the importance attached to this by the Government, the priority attached to it by the Minister or her ability to convince the Government Whip that this should have been taken before now. Whichever is the case, it is here now and the fact that the Minister, who is under severe pressure from the Commission in respect of not conforming with all of its directives, has been able to make her Second Stage speech here this evening will allow for the sending of diplomatic replies to Brussels to say that the matter is being dealt with and that the fine in question should not, therefore, be levied.

That is not the intention. The Deputy is smiling as he says it.

That is the reality of life.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): Deputy Kenny without interruption.

I do not mind being interrupted by the Minister.

Acting Chairman

You should not entice interruptions.

I welcome the publication of this important Bill in which I have a personal interest. It is a Bill which will effectively change and reinforce the ways of life in rural Ireland, in particular, and of many aspects of nature in urban Ireland.

I recall being here by will of the people in 1976 when we dealt with the principal Act, the then Wildlife Bill, 1975. One of the principal contributors to that Bill was the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, who gave extensive briefings from his undoubted experience and knowledge of many aspects of nature. It was an important principal Act.

I understand that 23 years later it is important to update that Act, change certain aspects of it and set down a legal base for the future. I share the Minister's view that it is important that we pass the Bill having had as full and proper a discussion as we think appropriate so that those who come after us will have a legal base on which to experience the joys of nature and the thrill of wildlife.

I hope the Bill is not just aspirational but will be backed by Government resources to see that it is implemented. Personnel and staff are important, otherwise the Bill, which may be fine in law, could become a sham.

I do not propose to go into any great detail because we only have a few minutes this evening but I will make a few general observations.

He would have had more if he did not call a quorum.

I intend to come back in the new century with renewed vigour and we may even call quorums then. I do not mind about that. I am just saying that I am not going to get into the detail of the Bill this evening. I will just make a few general remarks about it.

I welcome the Minister's proposals to deal with sections 46 and 51. Of all the correspondence which other Deputies and I received, by far the largest volume of complaint was in respect of this. While the Minister has not actually published the wording, I must take it in good faith that the consequences of what she had proposed were not intended by the Department. I fully accept that. She is putting at ease a great number of people involved in falconry, hawk hunting, hunting with packs of hounds, etc. The previous Government, of which I was a member, went to extensive lengths and had a great deal of consultation in the area of entry on to land, trespass with or without permission, visitor status, etc. It is quite a complex area and former Deputy Mervyn Taylor was the Minister dealing with it. That was accepted after a great deal of consultation with the farming bodies and it would not do to have that changed.

However, this Bill wants to make criminals of them.

Yes, but the Minister now realises that she does not want to make criminals of ordinary people and, therefore, she is proposing to change those two sections.

Yes, but it is stated in the Bill.

That was not the intention.

It may be that somebody in the Department put that to her and it got into the Bill, but I am sure her officials did not do that intentionally.

Some 25 years ago I was secretary of a newly formed gun club in my part of the country. One learned a great deal about the mechanics of tendering for forestry/Land Commission lettings, the breeding of pheasants for release, the general activities of commercial shooting, gun licences, the types of shooting, the quantity and variety of species which were available, etc. Those 25 years have seen many changes in the nature of that kind of activity. The issue of the control and policing of gun licences and commercial shooting is important having regard to the different way they do business on the continent. Some 8,000 full-time or part-time farmers went out of business in County Mayo between 1987 and 1997 and many of those would be small farms with fields of rushes, stone walls, scrub land, etc. These should be a hive of activity for many forms of wildlife and in many cases they are. The consequences of the Bill, if properly implemented, could see a resurgence of the corncrake and other species in many of these areas.

The Minister referred to the issue of hedgerows, which really are corridors of wildlife. I have had meetings with various groups who are interested in this. The local authorities, for reasons of public safety, feasibility, etc., have, under contract in some cases, cut these hedgerows and the quality of the cutting has ranged from neat to environmental savagery. I am glad to see that the Minister proposes to regulate this. In Britain, the regulations are much stronger. The species and licence requirements are identified and one just cannot cut at random because it is seen as a social and criminal offence to stray outside the legislation in that regard. We may need to discuss all of these areas at some length on Committee Stage. For instance, the Minister specified that hedgerows may only be cut during certain periods by public bodies, including local authorities, for reasons of public health or safety. When the people of village X or Y get on to a hard pressed local authority, it will send down the flail-cutter to cut hedgerows, saying it had to do it for public health or safety because the people were complaining. The legislation must be much tougher and regimented here in the sense that local authorities should be under no illusions that there are times specified in the Bill during which hedge-cutting and trimming may be legitimately carried out. We do not want environmental savagery to which I referred to take place in the middle of the nesting season on the excuse that it is for public safety or health.

I recall being a member of Mayo County Council in the mid-1970s when a then independent member, the late Councillor Nellie Robinson from Ballina, introduced a by-law, the first lady member in Ireland to do so, whereby no hedge-cutting should take place during the nesting season. She was before her time in that sense and I am glad to see that this kind of thing is now being recognised here.

On Committee Stage we may have to discuss all of these issues in considerable detail. Deputy Deasy has been the guardian of the song birds over the years. A man of capacity and undoubted talent, he has a particular interest in the preservation of this aspect of nature and conservation. He has been unfailing in his duty to the song birds of Ireland.

Many people have been concerned about the issue of hunting and I am glad the Minister has changed the provision so that those who hunt by lamp at night for fox, etc., are only affected where it involves protected species.

Question put and agreed to.