Written Answers. - Fox Hunting.

Enda Kenny

Question:

88 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development his Department's position on fox hunting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2363/00]

I am not disposed towards introducing a ban on fox hunting. From a welfare perspective, however, there are practices which had come to be associated with it which caused me concern. In August 1998, the Hunting Association of Ireland – HAI – which encompasses bodies which represent organised fox hunting in Ireland, announced rules and procedures which apply to the practices of digging out, bolting and earthstopping. This initiative was taken after I had conveyed to the bodies in question my concern about such practices.

I regard this as a positive development and a welcome response to my expressed concerns. I have received specific written assurances from the hunting bodies in question that they are committed to ensuring compliance with and enforcement of these measures and to imposing severe sanctions on anyone found not to have complied with them. I accept these assurances as having been given in good faith and have made clear the importance which I attach to ensuring that there is full compliance by all concerned.

Any person making an allegation or complaint of a breach of the rules and procedures must provide to the HAI supporting evidence of the alleged breach to facilitate proper investigation in accordance with fair procedures. It is open to a complainant to provide such information to my Department, which will pass it to HAI with a request that the matter be investigated.

The rules and procedures in question were introduced in August 1998 and I have to date been given no grounds for believing that they are not being observed by member hunts of the HAI.