Wildlife Bill, 1975: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Last night I had commented upon the context in which this legislation had to be considered and, indeed, welcomed. I spoke yesterday of the delicate balance that regulates life in our species world, in our environment, and of our imposition of crude practices on that relationship, the devastation brought about by the subjugation of social values to an economic system primed by a seemingly infinite greed. I asserted too that the environmental crisis was not a simple creation of technology but rather the consequence of the use of technology in a particular way, in a way that is historically specific. What I said last night is better summarised in a Newsletter distributed on 6th June, 1972, by the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. This is what that document said:

Human beings live as a part of a complex natural system with aspects of interdependence which have only recently become dramatically evident. They are also a part of complex social, economic and political systems which they themselves have created, usually without an appreciation of the unpredictable and sometimes disastrous effects of such systems on the life-giving capabilities of nature. These systems contain such faults and imbalances that they do not respond equally to the needs of all people, but provide a minority with a surfeit of goods, while leaving the greater part of the world's people in poverty and despair.

Later in that document reference was made to the atmosphere in which legislation on the environment and on wildlife must be considered. The same document had this to say:

The interaction between the social and natural systems on this planet has in our time resulted in an environmental crisis which although it has been produced largely by the economic practices of the industrial nations, affects every person on earth. The awareness of the environmental crisis has come upon us suddenly and it has come at a time when the deprived nations and the poor and the deprived people in all nations are struggling for power to control their own destinies and asserting their right to full participation in national and world affairs.

It is imperative for the well-being and even the survival of humanity that the condition of the natural environment and the needs of human beings be considered as interrelated parts of the same problem. This will require the introduction of profound changes into both our political, economic and social structures and our individual lifestyles, with the aim not only one of survival, but of survival with maximum possibility of human fulfilment.

Those two quotations summarise what I had to say last night. Those principles were adverted to in the Minister's opening speech to a lesser extent. The foundation which distributed that newsletter suggested a number of principles which, they suggested, essentially precede adequate legislation on the environment and in the area of wildlife. These principles, at least five of them are relevant, are contained in the same Newsletter of 6th June, 1972. I quote:

Human beings inhabit the earth but not they alone. Human survival depends upon the life activities of uncounted thousands of species of plants, animals and micro-organisms, and upon intricate physical and chemical reactions in the atmosphere, oceans, fresh water, and on the land.

They go on to comment on the vastness and complexity of this interdependence. The first principle is that human beings inhabit the earth but not they alone and human survival depends, again as I mentioned in my opening remarks, on the delicate balance between different forms of life.

The second principle is important. I do not expect people to agree with me about this because they have not agreed when I mentioned it before. The Newsletter continued:

There is a fundamental conflict between traditional concepts of economic growth and the preservation of the environment. During the last century, uncontrolled continuous industrial growth and the production of environmentally harmful substances and products in some regions of the world, has produced dangerous amounts of pollution and has been responsible for an inordinate waste of resources.

The third principle was to some extent adverted to in the Minister's opening speech. I noticed he sought to put a restraint on indiscriminate road building. That is a correct emphasis. Also in his speech he asks the farming community for their co-operation in introducing these measures. My view on this is that he should have asked for not only the co-operation of the farming community, but for the co-operation of the Industrial Development Authority, because it should be a requirement of all new industrialisation projects that they assure us they will have no harmful effects on wildlife and on the environment. The Minister, of course, could add the Industrial Development Authority when he comes to develop that section. As I said last evening, the Minister is a most sensitive man and has presented this Bill in a sensitive way.

I doubt if the Minister will have much control over the exploitation of national and regional resources by foreign corporations with a consequent outflow of profits from the exploited regions which has in other areas resulted in a vast and growing economic disparity among nations and a monopoly of industrialised countries over production, energy, technology, information and political power. Complementary to this is the flooding of developing countries with surplus goods and capital, with the resultant distortion of their economies and the deformation of their environments into monocultures in the interests of further enriching the industrial states.

It is this kind of interference with the environment over which we have such little control and we should seek to have control in this area. I referred last night to the crude, bullying tactics of the oil barons when they suggest—"Let us get the oil and gas out as fast as we can, under any conditions." It is to control the activity of these companies that we will have to devise new legislation. We are in difficulty here because at the present time the political checks on multi-national corporations in industrialisation projects, the ability to exact from them care for the environment, care for wildlife, has not been successful.

There is a fifth point which we will have to realise. I want, by the way, to assure everybody that I am not some kind of neo-Luddite. I am not against machines and technology. Economic development of any kind will require technology. But, some products proliferated by conventional technology have been extremely harmful ecologically. I am not rejecting technology per se, but I am suggesting that it must be restructured and reoriented.

It is a principle that in the future the culture of any industrial nation will reflect its ideology. We will need a technology which will stress the solution of humanity's problems rather than the exploitation of humanity's apparently endless greed as a basic principle, or starting point for legislation.

The Minister's speech is a reflection of a very late response in the world generally to the problems with which we find ourselves environmentally. The January, 1972, issue of The Ecologist, volume 2, No. 1, published their commentary entitled “Blueprint for Survival”. A number of eminent scholars put their names to that document, among them economists, suggesting that scholarships could no longer be value free, that it was a time for scientists in the human sciences and in the physical sciences to take a stand on the side of or against life. I quote one paragraph from that document:

The principal defect of the industrial way of life with its ethos of expansion is that it is not sustainable. Its termination within the lifetime of someone born today is inevitable—unless it continues to be sustained for a while longer by an entrenched minority at the cost of imposing great suffering on the rest of mankind. We can be certain, however, that sooner or later it will end (only the precise time and circumstances are in doubt), and that it will do so in one of two ways: either against our will, in a succession of famines, epidemics, social crises and wars; or because we want it to—because we wish to create a society which will not impose hardship and cruelty upon our children —in a succession of thoughtful, humane and measured changes.

They, like the Minister in his opening speech, made an optimistic observation that it was not too late to change. I said last night that I was not so convinced of this, and that I was probably more pessimistic. One of the reasons for that pessimism is that I am aware not only of the present consequences of economic activity, which I have so consistently attacked recently, but also of past and future developments. I also referred last night to the forced human migrations from areas and the threat in the future from the unthoughtful development of the oil and gas resources.

Senators will remember my reference to the scholar who wrote about the experience of Scotland. When I complimented the Minister on his emphasis on the necessity of creating adequate wildlife values, I referred to the tragic division of the classroom from life which had become in modern times the necessary accompaniment to the economics of elite greed. I referred too to the technologically contradictory nature of our actions, as evidenced in the destructure of nature, by for example, trees being destroyed and, at the same time, the replacement of the birds who lived in those trees by inefficient garbage collection innovations. I referred too to the presence of wildlife species in the art forms of different civilisations, and indeed of our own civilisation in a different period. I now summarise all of this in a sentence. What I have been speaking about so far in this debate has been the destruction of the quality of wonderment. I repeat that phrase—the quality of wonderment —and that is what this Bill is, but a very small beginning towards possibly restoring, or even recreating the possibility of it being restored, in a future generation.

I am grateful to so many Senators who have shown an interest in this Bill, particularly when someone like myself who cannot guarantee that he will sit down in two minutes is speaking. When I use the phrase the destruction of the quality of wonderment, I would ask the Senators to bear this in mind. Create the image in your own minds of the manner in which a child will marvel at the magnificent subtlety of life. If one has seen a child hold a little animal or plant in its hand, one will be immediately struck by the magnificent wonderment of the child, the appreciation of the magnificence of life. This child is condemned in our society to become the educated adult who must destroy life. That is part of our contribution to civilisation.

Not in anger but with a certain amount of sadness I referred yesterday to the reports of the Roscommon Herald of 13th August, 1971, when 1,574 birds and animals were reported as having been killed. I refrained from naming the chairman of the organisation responsible. I said then I was not angry with these people but, as I explained at length last night, it was the reaction I feared. I hope that the Minister's careful introduction of this Bill will help in some small way to change the attitudes which generated that awful assault on nature, for example, the belief that all the varieties of life need to be destroyed—this includes cranes, foxes, badgers and so forth—in order to sustain economic existence. The chairman of the gun club in question suggested that two farmers had been socially irresponsible because they had not allowed this savagery to take place. I must insist, however, that it is only when clear social objectives and their political expression take precedence over consumer activity that the saving of the environment may be available to usher in a new and more dignified way of life.

I would like to refer in more detail to parts of the Bill. I agree with what Senator Horgan has said. I would have liked this legislation to have contained measures for the control of our lakes and fish. I think they might have appropriately come within the responsibility of the Minister. I feel that the Minister could sort out the complex legal questions. For example—I will refer to it when I go through the text of the Bill—he has sorted out the question of acquiring commonages for the development of afforestation. Everybody knows that there are difficult legal questions involved in the taking over of fish life. For example, a salmon on its way to the sea becomes the property of nearly 1,000 people as it passes through a river flowing through people's land. There is a legal problem involved but not an insuperable one. What I would have regarded previously as an insuperable legal problem has been solved in this Bill with regard to certain kinds of land. I feel that the Minister should have moved towards establishing that the richness of our lakes and rivers is the property of the community.

I would like to pay tribute to the people who work in the Wildlife Section of the Forestry Division and so forth. The public in general have got tremendous benefits from the openup of the forests for recreational use. This model of the community restoring itself by having access to the natural resources is an appropriate one for rivers and lakes. We need legislation in this area too. We also need it for wildlife for many other reasons. When the most successful person is exercising greed, and in the private enterprise economy that is a requirement to be a success, he cannot be trusted to use resources in the interests of the community. It would be inconceivable to expect him to do so. Why should we expect it in the case of rivers and lakes? It is our duty to defend our resources.

Information kindly made available to me by the Salmon and Trout Conservation Council of Ireland some years ago suggested that salmon and trout are in trouble. We all know why they are in trouble—because people have regarded fish as something that is economic, an object for making profits. We know, too, that in fisheries people have made small fortunes. This should of course be one of the life assets of the nation. I look forward to legislation in this area soon to stop all this absurdity. Nets and weirs killed 255,406 pounds of salmon. When a salmon is expressed in pounds, society has reached another level of development and purpose. I wish legislation in this area had been included in the Bill.

I want to extend to the Senators and the Parliamentary Secretary the courtesy of some details as to what the Minister has proposed. Senator Horgan last night referred to Humanity Dick Martin, a most interesting man who was born in and lived in Galway. He was referring to his work in initiating legislation to prevent the infliction of cruelty on domesticated animals. What Senator Horgan forgot, of course, was the interesting philosophical significance of Humanity Dick's success. There are many lawyers in this House. Part of my education has been to listen to them, and I have learned a great deal from them. What strikes me is how good they are at law and how reluctant or shy they are on principles of jurisprudence. I wished that they would discuss with me the social context in which legislative instruments emerge. Why did Humanity Dick succeed in preventing cruelty to domesticated animals? Yet in 1975 we are protecting deer that run free, that are rare, for the first time by the legislation before us. We legislated so that we could not be cruel in private but we could be indiscriminately cruel in public.

The truth is that laws at that time were reflecting the privatisation of experience; the idea that the outside world, the great economic and social forces that affected mankind, were outside our control. Drama reflects the same thing. Passion and emotion become a matter of tension between characters in a drawingroom rather than being played out against a wider background. Similarly, as the scenes of the drama withdrew to the sitting room, the lawyers withdrew their legislative intent indoors as well. A 100 years afterwards they have gone out for a walk again. Seeing that they have all taken the air and searched with such wonderful benefit, I suppose that these small measures are a beginning.

I do not want to appear not to appreciate the great amount of good that is in this Bill. I would like my remarks of last night, complimenting those involved in developing our forests as a great amenity, to be noted. I will come to compliment the draftsman of this Bill for solving this problem of commonages which I know of because of my own proximity to Connemara. That is the way the legal advisers to an imaginative Department should always work. It should not be the exception. It should be a regular procedure.

I should like to make a comment on the use of an interesting term in the Minister's speech and that is the term "habitat". I will examine it more closely when I comment on Senator Cowen's contribution on the activities of the Irish Coursing Club. We all know what happens to hares; even the coursing club admits that. I shall be providing some scientific evidence about what happens to hares when they are removed from their habitat. Not only are they removed but they are brought to a certain stage of feeding. Even if they survive this cruel kind of activity, coursing, they are then supposed to be released and are expected to return to their habitat.

Parliamentarians will be glad to know that Winston Churchill used this phrase about Parliamentarians themselves in 1943 when they were discussing the architecture which was best suited for the new chambers of the House of Commons in England. I am quoting from The Ecologist of October, 1970.

The old building had been badly damaged by German bombardment and was uncomfortable and impractical.

The Ecologist refrains from saying “irrelevant.”

Yet Mr. Churchill urged that it be rebuilt exactly as it was before the war instead of being replaced by one equipped for greater comfort and with better means of communication. He argued that the style of parliamentary debates in England had been conditioned by the physical characteristics of the old House and that changing its architecture would affect not only the manner of debates but also as a result the structure of English democracy. In his words, we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.

I have been thinking about Churchill's remarks a great deal recently, as I have seen the buildings that have appeared in recent times and examined the contributions of the people who happen to live and supposedly work in them, legal and illegal.

The Minister in his speech stressed Part II which, he suggests, will contain the power in relation to wildlife in the future. I welcome most of the sections. I shall dwell a little on section 23 which deals with practices which another parliamentarian, whom I do not admire very much, referred to on another occasion as degrading anachronism. I am referring to coursing. In section 11 the Minister has rightly stressed the importance of being able to give assistance and aid development to different schemes in connection with wildlife. There is something that bothers me in that section and that is whether the necessity for research is sufficiently adverted to. We know so little about so many of the species for which we are expected to legislate. Section 11 (1) says:

It shall be a function of the Minister to secure the conservation of wildlife.

Even though we might have a public awareness of our attitude of destruction it is doubtful whether we have a sufficient number of experts to enable the Minister to do that adequately. I am glad that the Minister noted in section 15 the importance of the North Slob in Wexford, and the way in which he adverted generally to the importance of nature reserves. We all know of the importance of the North Slob particularly for migratory birds from Greenland. Part of our obligation becomes clear to us here. Positioned as we are, we have an international responsibility. In fairness, we have shown ourselves to be more sensitive in areas of ornithological interest than in any other areas, and the contrast is to our shame that our laws should be so disgraceful in relation to the animals that are running free.

Section 17 refers to the wildlife habitat of animals and the importance of their being protected. Later on I will ask the Minister to accept some amendment to the use of the word "habitat" and probably to extend some sections where the destruction of the habitat of wildlife is not protected in the Bill. By that I mean the rooting of wildlife out of its natural lair.

Section 21 deals with the protection of flora. As pointed out by Senator Alexis FitzGerald, the protection of flora has received a relatively small mention in the Bill. I am reminded in that section of the tremendous value that attaches to areas of North Clare. It is appalling the manner in which insensitive people—who could blame them, removed from the experience of regular exposure to nature —decided to practically destroy very important areas in that part of Clare. That kind of protection, of course, will not come in a Bill. It will come only in a society through education to believe generously in life.

Section 25 is a historic one. Here the dear little emerald isle enters the modern world to protect deer.

I am anxious to come to section 26. I ask the Minister to consider the deletion of this section altogether from the Bill. It refers to hunting. Last night I reminded the Seanad of the omissions from Somerville and Ross's accounts of The Experiences of an Irish R.M.—lawyers defending law sporadically, hunting most of the time, and generally entertaining themselves, never killing anything.

I suggest that the idea in modern times of a defenceless animal, the fox, being chased by a pack of hounds, followed by a group of people mounted on horseback, is ludicrous. If I may digress for a moment, it can be extremely difficult I am told on occasions to distinguish the sound of the hounds from the sound of the people on horseback. Something which always puzzled me as a child why should such a traditional activity be so highly disorganised. I think it is because of the variation in the sounds emitting from such people that they take off in different directions. While we should show tolerance towards such people and realise that they may need to get out in the air regularly——

"The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable". The Senator remembers Oscar Wilde.

I am grateful to Dr. Browne for reminding me of Wilde's remark. He described it well "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable". I ask the Minister not to feel that he has to make any concession to the hunting lobby. The hunt is an extremely interesting phenomenon as it is dealt with in literature. As someone who is interested in social history, I have found it one of the sad experiences of a socially aspiring peasant society that part of one's social advancement was getting up on a horse. One really had made it if one got to ride to the hunt. I remember too an occasional curate joining the ranks indicating the liberalisation that was to follow as Popes came and went. I ask the Minister to make no concession to the group of people involved and to delete that section and terminate the issue of hunting licences.

A number of people have suggested that the elimination of the fox is an advantage to the farmer. The only research carried out on this subject is that done by Dr. J.S. Fairley, when he was at Queen's University, Belfast. From examining the eating habits of a number of foxes he calculates that only a tiny number of foxes kill animals. The majority of foxes eat the afterbirths of ewes and minor harmful forms of life on farms. This is not widely known. It is unfortunate that Dr. Fairley's research is not adverted to by a wider audience, and the great excesses which I described as taking place in Roscommon might not have occurred.

I appeal to the Minister to delete the granting of licences for hunting and on Committee Stage I shall put down an amendment to section 26. A changed use of the concept of habitat could be inserted here. I would ask the Minister to consider rather than licensing hunts to make it an offence to dig for foxes—they are not a protected animal—in any earth or habitat either temporary or permanent with any implement or tool to drive the animal from that earth or habitat for the purpose of a hunt. I hope I shall be of some assistance to the Minister when that Stage is reached.

In section 26 (5) there is a reference to hunting licences for badgers and otters. Hunting these animals should be terminated. I appeal to Senators to be sensible in this regard. Legislation in other countries has a respect for animal life. I ask the Minister to make it an offence to interfere with the habitat, either temporary or permanent, of these forms of life for the purpose of driving them from their habitat.

I overlooked the section for which I have the greatest abhorrence, that is, section 23, which allows coursing. Would the Minister reconsider the concession he has made here? Coursing has been referred to as part of the Irish way of life. Senator Horgan put it into a broader context. He spoke about coursing in the general context of the relationship between man the hunter and the caged animal released for pursuit.

I do not want to enter into the controversy concerning the quality of evidence, but the Irish Coursing Club's own members have admitted that the conditions in which coursing takes place are appalling. They have admitted that the hare population is in danger of extinction. They have refused to allow systematic evidence to be collected at their meets. They have not yielded, to my knowledge, to any pressure from Bord na gCon. I am not so sure that any pressure came from that source. I would willingly be enlightened on that matter. They have admitted that they are unable to control the conditions in which coursing takes place.

I want to balance a proposition against the suggestion that coursing is part of the Irish tradition. The proposition is that if you have a species of life which is becoming rarer then it is our duty as legislators to preserve life rather than the dangerous habit or practice of a small group of people. I do not wish to offend anybody, particularly those involved in the rearing of greyhounds, but contrast this principle of life with all of the conditions shown to be inoperable. They have said they are unable to assert controlled conditions: they have said that the hare is becoming rare; they have said the cost of buying hares is too much; they have said all of these things, and yet the people who kill hares in the most horrible conditions are those who will be charged to exercise control. One of them last night suggested that these are the most suitable people to defend the species. That is just a simple absurdity.

If the Minister will not delete section 23 from the Bill, if he feels he cannot do this, I ask him to accept some rewording of section 26 (3) so as to eliminate the words in brackets

(being a day or days which are not specified in a hares order)

which would make the Minister directly responsible for regulated coursing matches which are defined as those held in accordance with the rules of the Irish Coursing Club. Even if the Minister will not agree with the deletion of the other section, if, he will withdraw some of the powers which we know are not being put into practice by this group of people to himself.

It is extremely important that the Minister under section 25 (2), if he is confident that he can ensure the sustenance of the species, will allow conditions to be inserted which will enable the number of animals killed to be published, recorded, broadcast, photographed, televised and reported. This would help a number of people. I will come to wording amendments in some of the other sections when it is appropriate in the discussion on this Bill.

When the small farmers in Roscommon decided to do what I described last night they did so because their economic future was threatened. We know the source of that threat and it was not from those forms of wildlife that they slaughtered. Lest I be considered to be misleading people on that point I want to put on the records of the House the truth about the fox. I have said that the only accurate information on the fox as a pest comes from the research of Dr. Fairley. I should also like to put on the records of the House my gratitude to Dr. Fairley for supplying me with this information. In an issue of the Irish Naturalists Journal, pages 215 to 219, entitled “The Fox as a Pest in Agriculture”, he concludes from an examination of the eating habits of foxes that it is a minority of foxes which are responsible for the killing of poultry and lambs. He mentions the other sources of food. The figure given from a representative sample of the destruction of farm produce is slight.

Reports from Scotland and Wales are similar. Therefore, the general manner in which the fox became the whipping boy for the farmers who lose lambs is scientifically not true. If it is not true of the fox it is even less so of the badger which is a much more slow-moving animal. From a study of the badger's habits we know that he inflicts even less damage on farmers' property. The otter, which I should like to see defended—and I spoke about the importance of doing this—provides a great service by eliminating a number of dangerous sources of vermin. The badger, for example, is an extremely clean animal in his habits and the study of badgers' lairs reveals the most elaborate and intricate procedures for the disposal of waste. They should be protected. Dr. Fairley's work is available in The Irish Naturalists Journal, January 1974, and in a series of issues following and preceding that date.

I want to reply to another technical point which is also important in relation to coursing. It is sometimes said that if coursing is outlawed the greybound industry in general will be affected; that the greyhound industry, in turn, is an important source of income for people, particularly in the southern counties. In relation to coursing and tracking, no conclusive evidence is available to suggest that coursing is necessary to produce a good tracking greyhound. It is my habit in this House to give sources when I make statements like that.

The statement that you need to sustain and allow coursing so as to defend the greyhound industry was made, for example, in The Kerryman of 10th January, 1975, in an article by John Barry—“Coursing in the Future in Danger?” In the middle of it he mentions, among other things:

Coursing cannot be allowed die. Apart from anything else it provides a means of livelihood for many people and it is also essential for track racing which as we all know is a very important industry indeed.

I agree that track racing is an important element in the greyhound industry. But I turn to the statement, which has no support whatsoever, that coursing is essential for track racing. I refer Senators to a journal aimed at people who practise these kinds of sport—to the editorial in The Sporting Press, of 8th September, 1966. In that editorial discussed the hypothesis that the two are connected is examined: “Is it necessary for the dog to kill to train?”

This is the point. We are asked a question in that editorial because of the nature of coursing and hunting, because we are so used to the sight of animals chasing live game that it is the kill alone and not the excitement of the chase that makes them run. In a very long editorial the editor of The Sporting Press suggests that in the absence of evidence that the instinct to chase may be a separate instinct altogether from the instinct to kill. As I said, there is no evidence to suggest that the two are inextricably linked.

There immediately Senator Cowen's suggestion falls down. But even if it were true it would be objectionable, given all of the photographs we have had, showing the conditions in which the hares are acquired. Then in the Irish Naturalists Journal of January, 1974, in a footnote, Dr. Fairley gives a detailed account of the bodies of 51 hares which had been sent to him from a number of areas in the southwest. It shows that the hares had been fed additional food, they had been kept for some meeting in an enclosed paddock for some weeks. Where is the concept of natural habitat there? They were moved from their natural habitat, fed abnormal amounts of food and then released. Even if they succeeded—they were probably killed— in the context of 1975 are not these, to all of us, objectionable conditions? In view of all of this evidence, I must object to sections 23 and 26.

I have been commenting on many sections in the Bill. As I said, I do not want the impression to go out from my speech that I do not welcome this Bill or do not welcome the Minister's attitude to it. I have indeed paid tribute to both. In section 32 the Minister, I think, is referring to the necessity to have expert opinion in the case of the ringing of birds, in the possession of cannon-nets and so on. He pointed out in his opening speech that one would need experts, but I would make this point to the Minister concerning that section. I wholeheartedly agree with him that one does, but if one needs an expert in the ringing of wild birds why not then in section 23 which states:

While constructing a road or while carrying on an archaeological operation, building operation or work of engineering construction, or while constructing or carrying on such other operation or work as may be prescribed, to kill or injure such an animal or to destroy or injure the breeding place of such an animal.

If in the case of bird life why not require here a zoologist or botanist to advise on the interference with plant life and wildlife where a road may be proposed? In other words, if you acknowledge the principle of the necessity for expertise in the one area, is it not well to acknowledge it in the other?

In section 34, dealing with the use of traps and snares, I agree with much of what the Minister is attempting. But I wonder would it not be possible to make it an offence with severe penalty to expose for sale or invite purchase of the dreadful instruments which are described. In Galway, for example, traps are freely available over the counter which should be available only under permit. I should like that section amended.

Section 39 refers to the burning of vegetation and the portion of the Minister's speech where he addressed his remarks to the agricultural community could be well repeated. I have suggested including with the agricultural community in another context sections of industry, particularly new industry, and the IDA in particular. But here the practice of burning vegetation is widespread. We all know of indiscriminate burning of bogs and the inadequate procedures to prohibit it.

In the case of section 42, which deals with damage being caused by protected wild birds, I would suggest to the Minister that there is a very great deal of difficulty here in establishing proof. I have just quoted Dr. Fairley's articles on the subject of the fox which suggest that the fox is not as irresponsible as has been represented. It is acknowledged, as I said, that a proportion do damage. This is borne out by others, lest people might think Dr. Fairley's research might have been selective. Dr. Fairley is the only man who has carried out research on this subject, to my knowledge, in the North or South.

I am aware also of a remarkable survey carried out by the Natural Sciences Department of Doncaster Museum which set out to study Yorkshire mammals and which showed that the fox was not always the rogue of popular imagination. That survey was in two localities, the Spurn Peninsula and the Thorne Moors—a vast lowland of raised peat bog between Thorne and Goole and the home of a colony of foxes. Mr. David Lane reporting in the Sheffield Morning Telegraph said that investigators found remains of brown rats and rabbits, both pests to farmers, as well as mice, voles, shrews and moles. Their findings also revealed remains of birds, beatles and eggs, barley grains and pond weed. Given Dr. Fairley's evidence as reported in the Irish Naturalists Journal, which has not been contradicted, and the evidence which is available from England, where is there difficulty in establishing the truth?

I want to conclude by making reference to Part IV of the Bill. It is a credit to the Minister. I have paid tribute to the people who worked on this section of the Bill. On a number of occasions in both Houses the problem of dealing with, as it is referred to in section 55, land held in commonage—that is, land held by two or more persons in common and undivided shares, joint tenants and so on—has presented a number of difficulties. Here the Minister has evolved a formula which is an extremely good one. I am glad that he and his assistants were able to succeed so well in this area. As I said earlier in my speech, given the same difficulties as we know exist in the area of inland waterways concerning fish, I would have liked that aspect of life to be under the jurisdiction of the present Minister for Lands as well. I could hope he would succeed in bringing in good, accurate legislation. I have gone on a long time and I thank my fellow Senators for their indulgence in listening to what has been a very long speech. I justify it only on the grounds that very often we discuss legislation here that either restrains, restricts and sometimes creates the conditions for the expansion of human freedom, the exercise of social experience of different kinds. Very rarely was I presented with an opportunity of examining the relationship of our own life with the lives of the eco-system generally. That is what we have been doing in this Bill and I want to end by paying tribute to the Minister for allowing Seanad Éireann to discuss this very important Bill.

Tá áthas orm fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo. Is Bille anthábhachtach é agus ba mhaith an mhaise don Aire é a thúirt isteach. Tuigim go ndearna an Teachta Seán Ó Flanagáin, nuair a bhí sé ina Aire Stáit san Roinn seo, iniúchadh agus mion-staidéar ar an mBille seo. Rinne siad obair mhaith agus sna blianta atá rómhainn beidh muintir na hÉireann an-bhuíoch dínn. Molaimid na daoine a rinne an iarracht seo.

I was intrigued by and benefited very much from the last speaker, Senator Higgins. He explained a tremendous amount and has obviously done great research into this whole subject. It is good that we have people of that calibre in the Seanad who will not deal lightly with a Bill like this.

This is a very important Bill and, like other Members of my party, I want to welcome it. Before the present Minister took office a part of this Bill was already in course of preparation; the Department officials and the previous Minister had been working on it. Between them and the present Minister they have come to the Seanad with a very comprehensive document, one that embraces an enormous amount of detail and reflects not alone weeks but years of research, and probably a great deal of interdepartmental consultation and study. The Bill is intended to repeal old statutes, some of them relating to a period that is long past.

This Bill provides new means whereby the State can help and assist in the matter of natural conservation. That is a term that has been used widely, particularly since World War II. It is true to say that in that period scientific knowledge advanced so rapidly and industrial growth has so mushroomed that people have begun to drift from the rural areas towards the larger centres of population. Because of that many of the things that were valued in life have been endangered and it was necessary that some steps should be taken to try and protect them.

As far as the history of our country is concerned it is a well-known fact that when the English were here they cut down most of our forests, the old ancient forests that had covered our country for thousands of years. The good commercial timber was taken away and transported overseas and our forests were left bare. Nothing was planted in their place. That has been adverted to very often in our Irish poetry by many Irish poets who were concerned and who lamented the clearing away of our native forests. It was only when the State was founded that people adverted to the fact that forestry was important and was good for the national economy. For that reason various Governments have pusued a policy of trying to plant much of the waste land and indeed other land in this country has also been planted. That has helped to delay the disappearance of many species referred to in the Bill. I am not sure of the title because I am wondering in what way one would differentiate between wildlife and vermin. I suppose these are terms that have been examined by those who drafted the Bill and I accept them.

In the past the British Government in their time assisted in the wiping out of many of our native species of animals, in particular the wolf. They actually gave a headage grant of £5 and minted gold coins to ensure that people would be rewarded.

It is true, too, that at present many committees of agriculture pay money to those people who assist in tracking down foxes. While Senator Higgins was speaking I was thinking of that and indeed it has been widely availed of and, irrespective of what many people may say regarding the fox, it was true in the past that he was more or less a destructive animal so far as the farmer was concerned because he raided poultry houses and at that time poultry on small farms were a very important part of the economy. We all know that the same situation does not exist now in that regard because much poultry has gone from rural Ireland and is concentrated in large henhouses. Indeed, I think that County Monaghan has practically the largest percentage of fowl in the country. From that point of view, the fox may no now be looked upon as the great rogue that he was in the past.

At the same time forestry people in the past have had traps on the plantations to catch foxes and badge and other wild animals. Perhaps the Department itself in the past has been helping to wipe out some of these species that we now are trying in this Bill to preserve. I am not sure if it is still the practice of the Department to use these traps. I know from personal observation that they have been used in the past.

When new towns are built up and when new industries arrive there is great rejoicing in the beginning and very often many of these industries get grants. Indeed, in the past grants were made without much consideration being given to the effect of pollution from such industries on fishlife in the surrounding waters and on the local animal life and on the water used by a farmer for his stock. That has been a great problem in my own county and in the constituencies the Minister represents because we have a very large concentration of lakes. Many of our rivers and lakes have suffered from pollution during the last couple of years. We fully realise that in some cases it was not easy for the farmer to prevent this because many of them were engaged in pig production and a great deal of slurry resulted. Some research should have been done already by the responsible Department, so as to try to solve this problem and perhaps have this slurry evaporated and made into some kind of solid. It could be sold back to the farmer in the form of artificial manure because it has a very high fertiliser content.

Many of our traditional industries, such as co-operative societies, have a great responsibility in this matter of pollution and have completely shirked it. I have seen lakes in my county actually white because waste milk and milk products were dumped there and killed the fish. Down along the whole River Erne thousands of fish were killed. This can happen once or twice probably by accident but there should be more strict legislation to ensure that the deliberate pollution of rivers and lakes will not be tolerated especially by big concerns who may be free from paying income tax and who may think that they have a right to do this with little regard for the farmers who live along the river, whose cattle drink this polluted water or for the effects on the fish in these rivers, particularly in a county such as Cavan or Monaghan where many English tourists like to fish.

Very often when lakes are polluted it gives a bad name to an area, which is certainly detrimental to the economy of the people living there. In regard to pollution arising from the disposal of waste oil, there is no law or regulation informing a garage proprietor where he may dump any waste oil products he may have. Despite the oil scarcity there is still plenty of it available and it is very harmful to rivers. Animal and plant is destroyed by it. That has a bearing on what we are trying to do in this Bill.

The Minister has referred to the control of firearms in regard to helping to preserve wildlife. Certainly, something is needed in this regard. In the past it was very often the people who had no licence at all who did the greatest harm. In some way people are still able to get cartridges from licensed gun dealers or by some other method and they kill the pheasants in a particular area long before the date specified on the licence. The same applies to duck and partridges, which have almost completely vanished. Anything that could be done to ensure that people would have some regard for the preservation of pheasants would be welcome. Some of these people would like to be termed sportsmen but certainly they are not: in my part of the country they are called pot hunters, a very appropriate name for them. The Minister would be wise to ensure that there would be tighter controls in this respect.

I do not want to reflect on people who come into the country but I have known people to come up Lough Erne near where I live—it is a fairly big lake—in motor boats, armed with shotguns. They shoot whatever they see anywhere within reach. They have a terrifying effect on wild duck. They do not mind what season of the year it is when they make these onslaughts. If foreigners are doing this, there should be some means of controlling them because this is wrong. Probably in some hotels in some parts of this country hotel proprietors take it upon themselves to advertise free shooting without consulting the owners of the land. It is a despicable performance by people who might have little regard for natives as guests in their hotels but who like to be very generous with other people's property so far as foreigners are concerned. I would not countenance anybody granting these people leave to trespass on land owned by somebody else for amusement. I know that they shot anything they saw, robins, crows, pheasants, wild duck, and so on. Something should be done about this and I am glad there is some reference to it in the Bill.

It is wrong at any time, in any legislation, for anybody to assume that they can trespass on other people's land. The land belongs to the farmer. Most farmers are decent people and provided they are consulted they are prepared to be generous. But it is a bit much to expect a farmer to see tourists or others crossing his land and indiscriminately throwing lemonade bottles and various other bottles anywhere they wish on his farm, when this may eventually lead to some of his animals being injured. Indeed I know of one case where a man lost one of the finest bullocks on his farm because somebody had put down a rabbit trap and the animal got his tongue caught in it and subsequently died. The person who did that did not suspect the harm which he was doing. In matters such as this the farmers would be very co-operative if gates were closed after use and if some respect was shown for what the farmer owned.

The same would apply to those people who fish and those who plough through meadows and throw bottles into the middle of a field. These things cannot lead to good relations between tourists or fishermen and farmers. I have known many English fishermen and I found them very decent. Very often it is not foreign people who do most harm in this respect.

How the Minister will be able to enforce this legislation in regard to firearms and control of cartridges, is a matter he will have to work out himself. In the Six Counties as far as I know nobody has a licence to do any type of shooting in pursuit of game or otherwise on a Sunday. This is one way of conserving. We have a five-day week now and many people have at least two days off. That is a lot of leisure especially for people who go shooting on both days. If they go out in large numbers they can kill a great deal of game, especially if there is no limit to the amount they can shoot.

There is reference in the Bill to control of inland waters. Could the Minister say what this entails? Many people have been asking me what the position regarding people who travel up a river and branch into a lake. And what rights do they have to land on the shore along the lake and to light fires and so on?

There is concern in some parts of the country regarding the big stretches of water and fishing grounds that are owned by people who live outside the State. There was a time in our history when English people came to Ireland and granted themselves large areas of land with shooting rights and other amenities for themselves and their families at the expense of the Irish people. Eventually, when the land was bought out under the various Land Acts the tenant farmers bought back their land but very often found that they did not own anything either underneath or over it. They just had the top of the land and the foreign owner had ruthlessly retained everything else. Consequently, there are many areas where the game on the land does not belong to the farmer and somebody from outside the State can shoot on his land. I think that in 1975 we should be able to remedy this. I fully appreciate that to do so would require money. I am not saying that irrespective of how these people got the land in the past we should get them out of it. I believe that anybody with property, especially if it has been in the family for four or five generations, irrespective of how they got it in the past, they should have a right to it now. All of us would jealosuly guard that right but the time has come when we will have to ensure that fishing rights, which are a valuable part of economy, will be under our own control. It is necessary as soon as possible to take the steps that will ensure this.

It may be said that some of these people who come to Ireland from abroad, and are giving employment are very nice people. I do not disagree with that. But it is very frustrating for people in their own country to find that they have to buy a stretch of a river if they want to fish or get into the good graces of somebody before they are allowed to fish. That is wrong and the position should have been examined long ago.

I would also ask the Minister to deal with inland waters and the rights of the people who own the land around lakes. May they have landing facilities, and for how long? How long may they camp? May they light fires? There is also the matter of pollution and throwing empty bottles and cans into the water.

It has been said that the Department of Lands and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries should have been merged into one Department. I am not saying that because the Minister for Lands happens to be from my own constituency. Irrespective of what I may say about him at home, I am certainly not going to say anything against him here. I think he is all right and I am sure he would be able to manage any Department entrusted to him. Somebody has suggested a new Department called the Department of the Environment. Most of its functions would relate to land and agriculture. A solution on those lines should be sought rather than try to create another new Department which would still have to consult the Department of Lands and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

I am not sure how the Bill defines game. I remember, from the old gun licence I had that a hare was game. In my county we never shoot hares. As a matter of fact it is considered very unlucky and perhaps that was the reason why hares were preserved for so long in many parts of the country. When I was young I remember reading in Our Boys about “Kitty the Hare”. It brought home to me that in the South of Ireland they had more or less the same situation as in the North—they regarded the hare with some superstition, an animal to be left alone. We have had stories of people appearing on May morning in the shape of a hare and so on. I think that superstition was better than any law that could be enacted.

As the electric light banished the fairies so too did modern thinking banish the hare. People are not as superstitious as they used to be. People whose fathers and grandfathers would not touch a historic building or attempt to remove a fort from their land or assist their neighbour in doing so now have little regard for these traditions. It is a pity, because I can foresee the time when with modern land reclamation schemes and so on there will be very little sanctuary for any type of bird on any type of land.

I was merely posing the question to what game is and the subtle distinction between game and vermin. The whole question of preservation is tied up in the food chain. The Creator decreed that one animal should eat another.

There was an old couplet which said: "Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite' em. And little fleas have lesser fleas and so ad infinitum.” Irrespective of what we may try to do nature will take its own course. There are ways whereby nature will try to preserve the species.

Land reclamation, especially with modern techniques, is very important to the farmer. It is very much tied in with what we are discussing because it will be necessary in future for the Minister to ensure that sanctuaries are reserved in some parts of the country so that many of the animals and birds to which we refer may be preserved. If not, they will certainly become extinct. At this juncture I should like to pay tribute to the game clubs that sprang up in the last ten or 15 years when people clubbed together and formed a local voluntary organisation to attempt, without any compulsion from the State or any fear of the Garda asking them to enforce regulations, to preserve various types of game. Such an attitude is very welcome.

So far as this whole exercise is concerned, one of the most important ingredients in it is education, which should begin very early in the home. Of course, it is being provided in the national schools at present. There is a greater attention to environmental studies and more time is allotted to them. People are more interested. Every citizen should take a keen interest in his own locality and everything pertaining to it. When people learn the names and habits of various animals, and birds, they are not half so anxious to have them destroyed. Years ago I read nature articles by the late Ashton Freeman. These were very informative and created love in the individual for the animal.

Reference was made to salmon and trout. It is true that they are in trouble in many parts of the country. We had great trouble in Lough Sheelin, one of the finest fishing lakes in Ireland, because of pollution. I am glad to say that that has passed away. There have been instances of salmon dying of some mysterious disease due to pollution or otherwise. These will have to be investigated immediately because salmon have been in this country for a long time and are very important to the economy. As Senator Higgins said, the salmon has to pass through many counties and countries during his life cycle. We know from recent developments, especially in fishing in the open seas, that many people do not use any bait or nets but just suck in the fish and have them processed straight away. Consequently, it would appear that it will not take too long to wipe out the whole species and that would have detrimental effects on our own fishing which is very important to our economy.

Senator Higgins mentioned also that we had an international responsibility regarding the preservation of some animals. I fully agree with him. In the winter we get many birds from the Arctic Circle, in particular the Greenland goose. In many areas they are wide open to indiscriminate slaughter. I am glad to notice a section in the Bill referring to seasonal killing or adverse weather conditions. When there is very heavy frost, there are large concentrations of wild duck, widgeon and various other birds which concentrate where there is a break in the ice. The place can actually be thick with them. In situations like that, where one shot could kill 30 or 40, it is pure slaughter. I am glad this has been recognised. Also, in severe storms birds cannot protect themselves and some effort should be made to protect them.

On some occasions the Forestry Service let the game rights of their forests, presumably for the game season. Forestry, in recent years, has become very important. The Forestry Service with the consent of the Minister, have opened forest parks in this country, as in other countries, notably the Black Forest in Germany. This is a welcome development. It is good that people can go into these forest parks and enjoy themselves. They can walk around and learn the names of various trees. The important thing to remember here is that this is a State investment. There must be civic education in this matter, so that people will respect property and guard against fires. One disastrous fire could wipe out the fruit of 20 or 30 years. Although the majority of people realise the risks involved this is not sufficient; it is the odd individual who does the harm. Everything possible should be done at all levels, in the school and in the home, to ensure that people are warned against the dangers of forest fires. The farmer who lives adjacent to the forest is not often responsible for fires because he is very conscious of the proximity of the forest. I have known in my own county, and in other counties, that at certain times of the year, notably in the spring, hundreds of acres of mountain land are set on fire. Sometimes the turf in the area is wiped out.

In the past, it was traditional, especially for sheep farmers, to burn off a small part of the growth on a dangerous rock where they were losing lambs and sheep. This was to clear the frontage so that the sheep themselves would realise the danger. Then, this was done in an uncontrolled fashion and the fire was allowed to spread and burn for days without any attempt being made to put it out. There is no use in talking about preserving wildlife if they are caught in these fires also. Much of the grouse in my part of the county have often been wiped out because of senseless fires such as these which burned the whole surface completely.

Education in that respect is very important. It should be in everybody's interest to ensure that when we are allowed to use our forests, which are a great amenity, they would be treated with care and respect. They are a great amenity. People should realise that a Minister has the responsibility to administer his Department. He should be generous enough to allow people enjoy these forests. Warning notices are often not sufficient. Radio and television could play a big part in this. The media could be used to ensure that this would not happen. Irrespective of what we may say here, one animal will kill another. We have the old Irish proverb: "Cad a dheanfadh mac an chait ach luch a mharu?" At the same time, there is much we can do to preserve and prevent pollution.

Coursing and greyhound racing are very big industries. The main reason why people bred greyhounds was to hunt hares, whether they were artificial or of some other type. I do not think the greyhound would be as anxious to follow anything else as the hare. In our anxiety to ensure that we kill nothing, we have a difficult assignment so far as this world is concerned. One animal eats another. There are people who talk a lot about the cruelties inflicted on hares during coursing. It is cruelty to a certain extent, but there are cruelties inflicted when animals are slaughtered and birds are shot. I am sure anything alive feels the pain of dying.

There are times when the farmer —and he is not the worst offender— finds that the badger has torn the plastic off a silage pit and dug down right into it. It is hard to blame him for being angry. How was the badger to know there was silage underneath the plastic covering? He was looking for worms for his breakfast. This happened to be a very profitable source. Instinct told him that they were there in abundance. The farmer was losing the feeding stuff for his winter stock. Consequently they were at loggerheads.

There are various opinions held by every political party on blood sports. I know from reading the papers that the Taoiseach is very found of following the hunt. In my part of the country traditionally people have been following the beagles and hunting with beagles on foot. They could be called the native huntsmen. They traditionally follow the hare and foxes at certain times of the year. Very little objection is raised by farmers. That practice has been there from the time of Fionn MacCumhail. It cannot be wiped out overnight. We have to be careful. There is an old story of the boy throwing stones into the pond. A little frog put up his head and asked him what he was doing. He said he was having fun. The frog said, "It may be fun for you, but it is certainly not fun for us." Most people want some type of relaxation. Those who follow the beagles enjoy the conviviality afterwards. They have their own point of view. I have always enjoyed the old tune, "The Fox Chase" by Leo Rowsome.

Senator Dolan would agree that that is when the fox escapes?

I would like to see the fox escaping. I am not sure if we could get over that by having slower horses, slower hounds, or by breeding some type that would not catch up with them. Very often——

Cavan): The huntsmen think some of the hounds are too slow.

That can happen. The old proverb says "Very often a slow hound caught a hare". We know the cow actually killed a hare by lying down on it. Irrespective of what we do there will be slight accidents. Those who object to hunting have a right to their point of view. I am non-committed so far as hunting is concerned. I do not indulge in it.

Very often there can be cruelty to human beings. That occurs when there is discrimination. There are other methods——

Yes, probably. A painstaking effort has been put into this Bill and an attempt made to cover every eventuality.

I was interested in Senator Higgins's reference to research carried out by a Dr. Fairlie regarding the fox. We often accept many of the old traditions without question. When research has been carried out we often find that the old traditions were at variance with the facts.

This is a good Bill. We will have a better opportunity at Committee Stage of dealing with it in detail. I thought Senator Higgins's contribution excellent. He carried out more research and reading on the subject than I had time to do. He brought various points to my mind for which I am thankful. He also brought a sense of humour to the chamber which has been sadly lacking.

This Bill is both timely and appropriate at this time for the preservation of wildlife. Senator Higgins and others mentioned the various species of mammals which were the marauders and the innocent, and, in that regard, reference was made to the fox and the hare. Nature as it existed before we had civilisation or before the application of science to our way of life had provided wildlife with the appropriate safeguards for the continuation of the various species. The elimination, to some extent, of certain species took place. We know from animal fossils in various parts of the world that there were animals on earth of 130 ft or 140 ft high. It was not modern ways of life that caused these species to become extinct. Many species have become extinct in the course of time.

We have to protect wildlife against man's science and commercialisation. I believe the Minister's effort in that direction is appropriate. From experience, I flatly contradict some of the observations made about the fox by Senator Higgins. I assure Senator Higgins that if he was the owner of a large number of hens and saw an old vixen go away every morning with one of them, and at the end of a month or six weeks, if there were only three or four left of the original 50 or 60 hens, the arguments of the various authorities quoted by Senator Higgins would very soon become questionable, even to him. Such are the experiences of many farmers, and it has been my own experience too. Any farmer will vouch for the fact that the fox kills young lambs. It has been stated that the fox lives on animals and bird life that were a pest to farmers. Over the last 30 years huge sums of money have been paid out by county committees of agriculture as bounties on foxes' heads, tails or tongues. Yet the fox is as plentiful today as ever he has been. I make these observations to show that the fox was meant to be hunted. He was endowed by nature to protect himself by his wiles and cunning. Somebody may say it is cruel to see hounds pull him apart, but that is part of the exercise of allowing the fox to pursue the role for which he was created by nature.

In the time of the British rule here foxes were protected in areas where large landowners had forest rangers and nobody was allowed to hunt them. Consequently, the foxes eliminated themselves by in-breeding, the manage and other skin diseases, attacking the older ones and wiping out many of their numbers in these forests and plantations. Since then the fox has not been so plentiful. He is a most virile animal and his breeding capacity has increased, and his ranging over the country has become more widespread. Since the high walls and protected plantations of the gentlemen or the landlords of old have to a great extent disappeared, the fox has gone to the rest of the country and he has become the evil one of the housewives' poultry flock. He has become the marauder of the young pheasants and other wildlife species which are suffering and to some extent, disappearing.

No ill has befallen the fox. We heard in support of wildlife such distinguished names as the Rev. Ian Paisley and Sir Winston Churchill quoted. We read of John Peel, "D'ye ken John Peel at the break of day, with his hounds and his horn in the morning, the peals of the horn would awaken the dead, or the fox from his lair in the morning." These are the writings of a famous Scottish poet, whose acquaintance with the environment and with the people was equal to if not greater than either of the two distinguished gentlemen quoted.

In regard to bird life one of the things that has happened in consequence of the increased application of science to food production has been that the dressing of cereals, wheat in particular, has caused numerous coveys of partridge to be poisoned. Partridge are to be found today in very few places. If the Minister had scientific proof of a means to protect the partridge, it would be too late to do it now because the partridge is nearly extinct. About ten, 12 or 20 years ago if one went out in the early morning one could hear the cuckoo and the corncrake. One does not hear them so often now because they are very scarce. It is true that the cuckoo is a migratory bird. It is also true that she has a host bird into whose nest she lays her egg and that bird is of the lark species. Since the advent of silage making on the very wide and extended scope that is practised now, these birds in their laying or hatching time are caught up in the sward, are pulverised and eliminated. This is a section of wildlife that modern methods of living have a bad effect on, and I fear will have the effect of eliminating these species of bird entirely in this country.

We heard the characteristics of national life associated with birds and animals in this and other countries. The golden eagle was characteristic of the south of Ireland. That species is now extinct. No such bird comes here, unless one comes from Scotland occasionally.

The Minister should consider how best he can protect the species of wildlife which are in danger of extinction, because of the modern science applied for the catching, trapping, killing or hunting of these birds or animals. He has to consider how he can protect them from the consequences of modern methods of farming, air transport and all the other things that go with the pollution of the haunts and the food on which these animals live. It would be wrong to say that the Minister must re-enact nature and to put the clock back 50 years, so far as these birds are concerned. There are certain things the Minister cannot and should not be expected to do. What he is proposing to do is something to be commended. To do that he has to be very careful indeed.

The application of this Bill when it is enacted will require the co-operation of the local, rural population 100 per cent. That co-operation will have to extend to the point where the people will virtually be the custodians of the wildlife in every part of this country. That creates a dangerous situation for the people involved and for everybody associated with the use of guns and other both commercial and sporting equipment used in and, sometimes, out of season. If a very enthusiastic set of people in or near a town or in the rural areas undertake the setting up of bird sanctuaries, the care and protection in season of various species of wildlife, and that having gone so far with enthusiasm and interest the idea comes into their mind that their interest is near-ownership, then they start drawing the line and saying: "This is my area. I have got so and so's name. I have so much and only we 20, or 30 may shoot here." I know of one man who said: "Only I will shoot on these four townlands." He did not have to be a landlord or a landlord's agent. He did not have the authority of a former landlord when he passed on his lands to the Land Commission or, as Senator Dolan said, to the tenants. He can be as dogmatic in exercising these rights as anybody could imagine. The structuring, therefore, of the game councils and committees for the protection of wildlife will have to be well specified, and their rights, duties and authority well defined. I am sure the Minister will take steps to see that that arrangement will apply.

Somebody said something about the protection of wildlife in forests. These animals, generally hares, are mostly hunted either for sport or for what Senator Dolan referred to as pot hunting. It is true that the hare is getting scarce because of indiscriminate hunting and killing out of season as well as in-season. The Minister has to apply a system in regard to afforestation that militates against the hare. The Minister cannot allow a hare into a forest and the Minister is paying forest rangers or whatever he calls them to shoot hares they see in the forest. They will completely clear a young forest of them in the first two, three, four, or maybe five years when the bark of the young trees are at an early stage and easily removed. For that reason it is hard to see to what extent the Minister can protect hares within the confines or the territory for which he has responsibility.

One important aspect of rural life that we could put before our youth in the schools is the protection of wildlife. In rural Ireland, where wildlife is very much a local affair to every young boy and girl, it would be appropriate that there should be at least once a week a half hour devoted to teaching the children about wildlife. In the schooldays of most people in rural Ireland we had the fellow who said to us: "There are so many rabbits in such a place." There was the other fellow who said: "There are so many birds' nests in such a place. We will go a rob them." or: "There is a big pheasant and we will go and catch him." The catching usually ended up in killing. The reverse picture should be put before children. A day will come for the men and women in the generation to come when the fortunes of wildlife will lie with them in regard to tolerance and the application of organised protection.

We often look at what are the ill-effects on wildlife species and the consequences of the activities of the game licence holders, but we have all forgotten about the rabbit. The rabbit is a species of wildlife which in the past provided a lucrative income for people who were then wage-earners who worked on certain estates and by payment of a certain sum undertook trapping, the preparing, selling and exporting of rabbits or selling them to exporters. After the war or towards the end of the war we imported that terrible scourge of the rabbit species of the man-made disease of myxomatosis. We heard a lot of crying about hounds pulling foxes apart or greyhounds pulling hares apart, but who in their wildest imagination could anyone think of anything so cruel and create such terrible suffering and death as was meted out to the unfortunate rabbit through the scourge of myxomatosis. Myxomatosis was discovered by a French scientist for the purpose of killing the rabbit. The rabbit had been a far greater source of income in this country than the hare. The hare is an incidental factor in the management and production of greyhounds for greyhound racing and for export and coursing. That may be seen to be cruel, but that cruelty cannot be compared to what was done to the unfortunate rabbit that was killed, poisoned and got a slow and terrible death—the rabbit that was a source of income, and a dainty morsel to get in an hotel on any occasion when one would care for a variety of food.

The Minister should look closely at the question of whether or not myxomatosis should be permitted to be perpetuated here. The fact that rabbits have survived myxomatosis and that there are now rabbits in the country is an indication that nature preserves every species to the greatest possible extent. This is mankind producing a deadly weapon for the purpose of killing a form of wildlife which not alone was advantageous to man himself but was no real problem as regards doing extensive damage.

I have looked positively at this matter of wildlife. I hope the Minister will also look at it in the light of the circumstances associated with our time in the world, with what we owe to society, and what we owe to the wildlife that God gave us in this country.

I, too, welcome any legislation that endeavours to conserve our natural flora and fauna. What Goldsmith once said about the bold peasantry may also be said about our flora and fauna because, if once destroyed, I fear it can never be supplied.

Whilst this legislation was being drawn up I wonder did the drafters study what a very farseeing woman had to say about nature conservation that is, what is contained in The Silent Spring by Rachal Carson. She foretold that if we kept using pesticides, insecticides and artificial manures and kept overshooting wild animals, the day would very fast come when even the sound of a bird would not be heard. It deals in great detail with the balance of nature. This is a very mysterious balance and delicate balance. It was designed by the great Architect of the Universe to keep a balance between birds and animals, and vegetables and the human being. It proves that every section of nature is interdependent on the other.

There is also very deep reference to this in the works of Teilhand de Chardin. He also traces the evolution of the human race and the spiritual dimension that we have even in matter. As Senator Martin said, the disappearance of wildlife has its root cause in pollution, pollution of land, sea and air. If pollution gets out of hand any more than is happening at the present day, we are certainly facing a silent spring. We are also facing great problems in the field of human genetics, because between the food that we are now eating, which is destroyed and contaminated by all these artificial manures, pesticides and insecticides, we will not be able to keep the balance or take over control. From that point of view we all of us very much welcome the Minister's interest in this field.

Senator Dolan and Senator McGlinchey referred to the good old days. The poets of the 18th and 19th century were indeed very farseeing as well, because we have many of our poems bemoaning the felling of our woods and trees. It is beautifully expressed in Cill Chais when the poet says—

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad

Tá deireadh na gcoilte ar lár.

Then he goes on to say:

Ní chluinim fuaim lachan ná gé ann

Ná fiolar ag éigheamh cois chuain.

Ná fuaim na mbeacha chun saothair

Thabharfadh mil agus céir don tsluagh.

Again in Seán Ó Duibhir a' Ghleanna, you discover the appreciation there was for all birds:

Ar m'eirigh dhom ar maidin

Grian an tsamhraidh a' taitneamh.

Chuala an uaill dá casadh

Is ceol binn na n-éan.

Bric is miolta gearra

Creabhair na ngoba fada

Fuaim ag an mac alla

Is bás ins an spéir.

Later on he says:

Sé sin m'uaigneas fada

Scáth mo chluas dá gearradh.

An ghaoth aduaidh um leathadh

Is bás in an shéir.

Then he regrets that he has to go back to Galway and the days of the sport and game are over:

Is a Shéain Uí Dhuibhir a' Ghleanna

Tá tú gan géim.

These poets lamented the passing of our trees, the passing of our woods, and with the passing of our woods and our trees so also passed a great section of our flora and fauna.

I was surprised to hear somebody say that when Fianna Fáil were in office very little interest was taken in this subject. I was not involved in politics at the time myself but I was very interested in rural life, in gun clubs and in the regional game boards. At that time Fianna Fáil did make a serious attempt to tackle this very complex problem. As Senator Dolan said, I am sure some of this is already in some form in the Department. It took 40 pages of an introductory statement by the Minister not to mind 50 or 60 sections. A good consensus had to be developed and agreements had to be reached by all the interested parties. There are very many interested parties—you have the sportsmen themselves, the owners of the land, the gun clubs, and many other interests. It was legislation which could not be brought into being overnight.

In 1958 also the Government gave financial assistance to the interested organisations and asked at that time for recommendations and suggestions which would be helpful in updating the antiquated legislation which was in existence since 1930. But I feel that in this field we are paying very little attention to these groups. While we were dallying about the legislation, they in their areas were preserving our game and drawing up rules and regulations and keeping bounds. A very loud voice should be given in this legislation to these sportsmen, to the gun clubs and to the regional game authorities. I hope the Minister will look into it, because this legislation is something that cannot be run by the Civil Service. You must have co-operation at the grass roots. The amount of gamekeepers or bailiffs will rectify the situation. It must come voluntarily and it must have the co-operation of all these bodies, especially the rural organisations and the farmers.

Section 16 provides for the setting up of an advisory council. I am greatly afraid that those who have the big estates will have far more of a say than the smaller people. I do not like the idea of taking powers of authority over our commonages and small parcels of land because these are the only areas that our landless sportsmen call their own. At least leave that part of our country open to these men, who, as I say, over these years have done so much for the flora and fauna of our country.

Under section 12, there is an obligation on the Department and other bodies towards nature reserves and refuges. If you speak to sporting people they will tell you that some of our greatest culprits are those in our own State forests, that before the State make laws about vermin for other lands, they should put their own house in order. The sporting bodies with whom I have spoken would prefer that we would go in for more game sanctuaries rather than have too many rules about the amount of your catch and so on. As regards this part of the Bill which refers to our foreshore, they believe that we are heading for taking all the sport out of sport with too many regulations.

Then there is a section on research. I do not think there is any need for setting up a further structure for research because in An Foras Taluntais we have a natural place for research. Different kinds of farming activities are dealt with by them and they are quite capable of doing any research which we need as regards game and wildlife.

I would ask the Minister to consider in what way the universities could be brought into the field of research. I remember during the early days of the gun clubs and the regional game councils the Fianna Fáil Government did quite a lot of research into the Irish red grouse. During the last few years this research has come to a standstill. I am told that the research on this one indigenous bird we have should go hand in hand with the study of our sheep. That is another reason why An Foras Taluntais is a very appropriate body to undertake whatever research is needed.

There are two licences spoken of. I do not believe it is necessary to have two licences. A stamp could be put on one which is a game licence. It is only asking for more revenue from our sportsmen. Indeed sporting today is costly enough for an ordinary person. Like golf, it is going beyond their means altogether. If we clamp any more taxes or extra licences on them we are just ruling the poor and the small men out of the sporting world.

I spoke before about extending this legislation to the foreshore. It would be much better if the Minister looked after some of the sloblands and wetlands that we have rather than extend the legislation to this other area. It is only fair that we should in this debate congratulate the game councils and the gun clubs and all these bodies who have been working in this field before any legislation was drawn up. I know some areas where they can have a season of three months for shooting and have voluntarily cut it down to one month themselves. They are all very concerned and they are the greatest game-keepers there can be in any area because they see that the men and women who are breaking the law will have an eye kept on them and that they will not go beyond the limits. I hope that they were consulted when this legislation was being drawn up. I also hope that they will be given a major role in whatever boards or bodies are set up in the future.

Many people referred to the necessity for further education. One of the greatest educational programmes we have had over the past number of years was that of Eamon de Buitléar with Amuigh Faoin Spéir. If the Minister could get more of those programmes on Telefís Éireann it would be much better than tying it up with the schools. As Senator Dolan said, we have environmental studies already in our schools, but at the same time it could be supplemented by programmes such as that of Eamon de Buitléar.

Someone referred to the burning of our mountains and bogs. The ordinary person does not realise the great damage that is being wrought by this burning. There should be a scientific way of burning one section this year and another section the next year so that some cover will be left for the birds, and so there would be sufficient grit for the grouse especially and, indeed, for all other birds. That would be a programme that could be put on television. There is much that can be improved in our programmes. Here is a ready-made programme, if some of these people could be got in who have all the knowledge and put them on a show instead of some of the stupid subjects that are being presented to the people.

A question was asked of me, why, if we are collecting about £1 million from the gun men in gun licences, do we not plough back that £1 million or more into preservation. The least we might do is to return it to the game councils and the gun clubs. As I said before, it is a sport that is becoming very expensive. Cartridges are very costly now, and some people believe they could reload cartridges if only they could get the shot and the gun powder. That is also something that could be looked into. Like everything else it will soon be beyond the reach of the poorer sections of the community. Down through the years hunting, fishing and shooting had been the sport of people of limited means. I hope it will always be kept within the means of the poorer sections of our community, and will not be just some other sport and recreation for the élite.

Once again I would like to ask the Minister to make sure that the bodies that have put years of education and research into this will have a major role to play when the boards are being set up.

Debate adjourned.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.