Ceapacháin Rialtais. - Wildlife Bill, 1975: Committee Stage.
Cavan): Before the Committee Stage gets under way I should like, with your permission, Sir, to refer briefly to the extensive list of amendments which the House is asked to consider. It is true that many of these amendments are merely drafting points designed to tidy up the original text. However, others are of a more substantial nature whose overall effect will be to improve significantly the Bill as a whole. Senators will recall that in the course of my Second Reading speech I mentioned that I would be quite prepared to amend the Bill to such extent as would be warranted by the corpus of constructive criticism which I had by then received from various interested voluntary organisations. These bodies included the National Association of Regional Game Councils, the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, the Field and Country Sports Society, the Irish Deer Society and others.
Prolonged discussions between my Department and these organisations have since taken place and I wish to compliment most sincerely the various organisations concerned not only on the care and clarity with which they presented their proposals but also, and more important, on the spirit of cooperation and goodwill which, without exception, characterised their entire approach to this comprehensive and complex Bill.
For my own part, I can assure them that I have given the most careful and sympathetic consideration to the extraordinary wide range of suggestions which these organisations, by virtue of their long and varied experience in the wildlife sphere, were in a position to put forward.
The proposals at present before the House reflect many of these suggestions and I have no hesitation in saying that the important piece of legislation with which we are now dealing will benefit significantly from them.
Section 1 agreed to.
Government amendment No. 1:
In page 5, subsection (1), between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following new definition:
"‘airgun' means any weapon, including an air-rifle or air-pistol, incorporating a barrel from which metal or other slugs can be discharged;".
(Cavan): This amendment proposes to define the expression “airgun”. This definition is necessitated by the proposed amendment of section 33 to include reference to an airgun, air-rifle and air-pistol. I think it will be acceptable to the House.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 2 not moved.
Government amendment No. 3:
In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following new definition:
"‘firearm' means any lethal firearm or other lethal weapon of any description (including an airgun) from which any shot, bullet, slug or other missile can be discharged;".
(Cavan): This amendment is necessary to remove doubt as to the meaning of “firearm” in section 28, as it would be amended, and in sections 29, 33, 44 and 72 (6).
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 4 not moved.
Government amendment No. 5:
In page 6, subsection (1), line 27, to insert ", fungi, algae" after "liverworts".
(Cavan): The purpose of this amendment is to give the same prominence to fungi and algae as is given to other wild plant groups such as lichens, mosses, etc. in the definition of “flora”. Although all these groups are comprehended by the words “all wild plants (both aquatic and terrestrial)” they are specified in the definition in the interests of clarity and emphasis and should have been including originally. The amendment is primarily a drafting one.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 6:
In page 6, subsection (1), line 28, to insert "namely," before "flowering plants".
(Cavan): This amendment is for the purpose of clarification. The text as it stands suggests that flowering plants, ferns and fern-allied plants are not vascular plants whereas in fact these comprise all the vascular plants. The amendment will clarify the matter.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 7:
In page 6, subsection (1), line 46, to delete "with water" and substitute "by water".
(Cavan): This is purely a drafting amendment for consistency with the use of similar terms in section 15, subsection (1) (a).
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 8:
In page 7, subsection (1), between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following new definition:
"‘the territorial seas of the State' means the portion of the sea which for the purposes of the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, is the territorial seas of the State;".
(Cavan): This amendment, which seeks to define the term “the territorial seas of the State”, is considered desirable because the term is used in sections 15 and 58 and in the proposed amendments of section 59 but is defined only in section 58. A consequence of the amendment will be to delete the definition in section 58.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 9:
In page 7, subsection (1), between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following new definition:
"‘wild duck' means wild duck of any species;".
(Cavan): This amendment is intended to cover the meaning of the term “wild duck” in sections 35 and 37. In some parts of the country the term is equated with mallard only, but it includes other wild duck species such as widgeon, teal, shelduck and so on.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 10:
In page 7, between lines 41 and 42, after subsection (3) to insert the following new subsection:
"(4) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting or restricting the doing by any person, whether as an employee or otherwise, of any act, other than the killing of fauna, which is done by that person in assisting another person lawfully to hunt fauna."
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
I should like to make one comment on one of the definitions in this section. Before doing so I should like to thank the Minister for his explanation about the numerous amendments. In fact, I think it is much better to have flexibility and have a large number of amendments, even if it does make the Committee Stage of the Bill somewhat difficult. The question I should like to ask is in relation to the definition of conservation. The definition states:
"conservation" includes management and regulation of the use of land in relation to the interests of wildlife and, where appropriate, development and improvement of land having regard to those interests.
I wonder whether this might not be a rather narrow definition of conservation in the context of the Wildlife Bill. After all, conservation in general terms is the wide use of resources and in this case wildlife resources itself. While I welcome the approach and the inclusion of a definition of conservation here, I am wondering whether it focuses too much on the land on which wildlife may be conserved and less on the wildlife resources themselves.
(Cavan): With regard to the point raised by Senator Robinson, the Senator will note in the definition the word “includes”.
The main point I am making is that the whole focus is on the land and not on the wildlife itself.
(Cavan): I would like to point to the Senator that “conservation” has its ordinary meaning but it is extended here to include the lands. Before this Bill was introduced and at the present time protection was extended to wildlife in general, but there was no protection whatever, or any worthwhile protection to the habitat of wildlife. That was a great shortcoming in the efforts to conserve wildlife. “Conservation” here includes the management and protection of the land. The ordinary meaning of the word “conservation” will still stand. It in no way limits or delimits it but, I would suggest to the Senator, extends it.
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 3 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 11:
In page 9, line 7, to add the following sentence to the section:
"Subject to section 32 (5) of this Act, a licence granted by the Minister under this Act shall, if so expressed, operate to authorise the doing by any person who is of a class or description specified in the licence of,
(a) anything permitted to be done by the licence, or
(b) anything which is a thing so permitted to be done and is of a class or description so specified."
(Cavan): The purpose of this amendment is to enable any licence granted by the Minister under the Bill to extend to persons other than the licensee. A case at point would be the grant of a licence to the master of a stage hunt under section 26. The effect of this amendment would be to extend the application of the licence to all bona fide members of the stage hunt. Another example which would serve to explain the amendment in detail would be the grant of a licence to a person under section 22 (7) (a) to capture or kill humanely a protected wild bird for research purposes. By virtue of the amendment the licence could be expressed to extend to another person or persons who would be assisting the licensee in the research project. Under paragraph (a) the licence could be expressed and operated to enable the assistant to do all that the licensee is permitted to do.
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
When this Bill was given a Second Reading in May, various Members of the House received detailed submissions from the National Association of Regional Game Councils. One of the points that was made in the submission was on section 9 on the question of licences. The submission stated that it would be desirable that the condition be written into this section making it obligatory on a firearm and/or game licence holder to take out insurance cover, for personal and public liability. Has the Minister considered the suggestion of insurance cover?
(Cavan): I have given consideration to that suggestion but I do not consider that making insurance cover obligatory for persons operating or using guns is a matter for me in the conservation of wildlife. The insurance suggested is really more a matter of protection or compensation for persons who are injured by the gun. This is a matter for another Department and another Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Section 10 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 12:
In page 9, line 16, after "wildlife" to add "and the protected species known as game in consultation with Regional Game Councils or their representative body at national level".
This amendment is to ensure that the existing arrangements remain and that the Minister or his Department would continue having consultations with the regional game councils as in the past.
(Cavan): In the wildlife measure in the broad sense—and, of course, that includes the various species traditionally regarded as game—section 11 (1) sets down the Minister's function in the broadest terms and any attempt to circumscribe that function in the manner suggested in this amendment would be detrimental. In practice, of course, where game species are concerned—or any other species for that matter—it will be the policy of the Department to continue to have consultations as appropriate with those voluntary organisations directly concerned. Indeed, I will go so far as to suggest that the Department's record in this sphere to date is such as to have won the confidence of the various groups involved in game development and wildlife conservation. In these circumstances I am not disposed to accept the amendment. I suggest that, in the light of my approach to this Bill to date and of consultations I have had with all relevant interests and of the number of amendments I have put down following those consultations, Senators would be satisfied that that sort of consultation will continue and that the amendment is not necessary.
I take it, then, that the Minister will continue, as in the past, consulting the regional game councils?
(Cavan): Senator Ryan may take it that, without writing his amendment into the Bill, the policy of consultation with the regional game councils and other interested organisations and associations will continue.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 9, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following paragraph:—
"(b) initiate and support such research as is necessary for the sustenance and development of fauna and flora in the community interest."
I regret that Senator Higgins is not here to move this because I am not very familiar with it but I shall move this in order to give the Minister an opportunity of replying to it.
(Cavan): The statutory basis for research is provided for in subsection (3) (a) and will be quite adequate to enable all necessary research to be undertaken either direct by the Department or by some other agency at the Department's request. Since the provisions of the Bill generally are very much geared to the community interest, it follows that research activity under the Bill will be in line with what the Senator has in mind and I see no justification for writing the proposed amendment into the Bill. In other words, I do not think that the amendment is necessary. The Bill already confers adequate powers on the Minister to make this type of research.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 14:
In page 9, line 34, after "loans" to insert "which shall be channelled through existing Regional Game Councils".
Here again we are asking that we continue as in the past—that the grants given to the regional game councils will continue.
(Cavan): I had better make the position clear. Grants and loans will not be confined to game projects only, as paragraph (b) of subsection (2) indicates. Their relevance will, inevitably, be much broader in scope and may well arise in situations which are of no direct concern to purely game development. However, where the moneys in question relate specifically to game projects, the bulk of them will as heretofore be channelled through the regional game council structure. But here too the Minister must be free to deal with other recognised game development agencies, such as joint committee projects aimed at providing shooting facilities for visiting sportsmen. Where the making of grants or loans to organisations engaged in wildlife conservation as distinct from game development arises there could be no question of channelling the appropriate funds through regional game councils. The paragraph I have drafted provides the flexibility required and I am not disposed to alter it on the lines suggested by the amendment. Again, I can assure the Senator that there will be no change in policy. Consultation will continue. We welcome suggestions, particularly if these suggestions are calculated to improve or help us in our activities under the Bill. I emphasise that the Minister reserves the right to flexibility under the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 15 not moved.
Government amendment No. 16:
In page 9, subsection (3), line 43, to delete "Subject to subsection (4) of this section, the" and substitute "The".
(Cavan): This is purely a drafting amendment. The qualification now being deleted is unnecessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 11, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
I regard this as one of the most important sections of this Bill. I wonder is it possible to make a provision that, in exercising the functions under section 11, the Minister will have an obligation to consult with the body which it is proposed to establish under section 13, the Wildlife Advisory Council? It would be an improvement on the operation of the Bill if the Minister in discharging his functions did consult with the Wildlife Advisory Council. It would be a way for him to get a broader appreciation of the various factors which might apply and it would be welcome evidence of an accountability by requiring this in the actual section itself.
(Cavan): The point raised by the Senator might be more appropriately dealt with under section 13, which sets up the advisory council. The Senator may take it that the whole point in setting up the advisory council is for the Minister to have the benefit of the advice of that council on various matters and on various aspects of his duties. I shall be moving an amendment later which will oblige the Minister to keep the council informed of developments and of new scientific approaches. From that amendment the Senator will see that the principle of the Bill is that there should be a flow of advice and an interchange of views and opinions.
I accept that, but would it not be more satisfactory from the point of view of consultation and participation if section 11 included an obligation on the Minister to consult the Wildlife Advisory Council prior to discharging the various functions under section 11. It is one thing to report to an advisory council afterwards about activities which have been going on but it is much more serious participation if they are consulted prior to the discharge of functions.
(Cavan): I do not think it is necessary to write that into the Bill. When we come to section 13, we shall find that the council are at liberty to communicate with the Minister and that they can make recommendations to the Minister. That is one of the principal objects in establishing the council.
It is very hard for a council to make recommendations in an abstract way without perhaps knowing in what way the Minister would exercise particular functions under section 11. If the Minister had an obligation to consult with them it would put the council on notice that a particular activity was taking place. It would be a genuine improvement in the mechanics of the Bill and I ask the Minister to consider the matter.
(Cavan): If the Senator will refer to section 11 again, she will see that that section deals with broad principles and broad powers. For example, it says:
It shall be the function of the Minister to secure the conservation of wildlife.
That is really the substance of section 11. Then it says without prejudice it shall do this, that and the other thing. If I were to accept the Senator's amendment, it would mean that the Minister would be obliged to consult the council in respect of every step and every movement and that would not be desirable. The object of the council is to advise the Minister on broad policy. I am going further in one of the amendments by giving power to the council to advise the Minister on administration and on administrative matters without giving it power to interfere in any specific point of administration. If we look at the Bill in that way we will appreciate that section 11 is a broad policy section. I am sure the Senator will agree that what we are doing is satisfactory.
I accept that. Section 11, subsection (1), is a broad general clause setting out the general function of the Minister to secure the conservation of wildlife, but under the particular functions in subsection (2) and subsection (3) that it would be reasonable to have consultation and it would make the role of the Wildlife Advisory Council much more significant. It would mean that there would be a greater dialogue. It would mean that the council would have an opportunity before decisions were taken of giving the Minister the benefit of their advice. It is only a provision to consult. It obviously would not bind the Minister in any way in the discharge of his functions under section 11.
(Cavan): If we were to analyse this section a bit further, subsection (2) (a) says:
give assistance or advice to any person on any matter affecting wild life.
It would be unreasonable to assume that before exercising that function the Minister would have to refer to the council. Subsection (2) (b) says:
When the Minister considers that the management, or supervision of management by him or on his behalf, of any land in which he has not an interest, is desirable in the interests of wildlife, he may manage or cause to be managed, or supervise or cause to be supervised the management of the land upon such terms and subject to such conditions as may be agreed upon between him and a person having an interest in the land.
Once we accept that as desirable policy it would be unreasonable if the Minister had to consult the council on details or in individual cases. The same could be said about subsection 2 (c). The same could be said about individual grants. If the Minister had to consult the council before making any specific grant, the council might be turned into a pressure group in respect of these grants and that would not be desirable. The object of the council should be to advise the Minister on broad principles. It would lead to delays and obstructions and misunderstandings if the Minister were to consult the council on the day-to-day running of the Department or the day-to-day operation of the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Government amendment No. 17:
In page 10, subsection (2), line 35, to insert "or the management of land pursuant to and in accordance with an agreement under section 18 of this Act," after "applies,".
(Cavan): The effect of section 12 is to require other Government Departments or State agencies and certain public bodies, before reaching decisions or undertaking works which might adversely affect nature reserves and refuges or fauna established under sections 15 and 17 of the Bill, to consult the Minister for Lands with a view to avoiding or minimising damage to these areas. In other words, the section is intended as a safeguard for important wildlife habitats in which the Minister has a direct involvement. The purpose of the amendment is simply to extend the range of areas in which such consultation will be necessary, including habitats which become the subect of a management agreement in accordance with section 18 of the Bill. These places will also be significant in the context of wildlife conservation and it is only right that they should be given the benefit of the constraints envisaged in section 12.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 18:
In page 10, subsection (2), line 39, to insert "effect or" before "interference".
(Cavan): This is a minor drafting point aimed at making paragraph (b) consistent with the final part of the preceding paragraph.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 19 and 20 are related and may be taken together.
Government amendment No. 19:
In page 11, subsection (2), line 5, to delete "policy" and substitute "general policy (including administrative policy)".
(Cavan): The first of these amendments relates to subsection (2) of section 13. With the permission of the Leas-Chathaoirleach, I propose to take them together as they are intended to clarify the role of the Wildlife Advisory Council. The amendments are aimed at enabling the council's recommendations to extend to the sphere of general policy, including administrative policy, but not so far as would enable the council to become involved in specific matters of day-to-day administration. The existing wording of the subsection, by preventing it from making any recommendation of an administrative nature, could unreasonably restrict the council's performance and the proposed amendment will ensure that a recommendation from the council may include proposals affecting the Minister's administrative policy. Indeed, there may well be situations where such proposals would be an integral feature of a recommendation by the council.
Obviously, from what I said in my earlier remarks, I welcome this amendment. It should make a substantial difference to the terms of reference under which the council operates. It would have been a very artificial distinction at certain stages and it might have meant that the council could not consider or recommend on an area because there was some administrative involvement. This would have reduced the council to a very narrow range of policy consideration.
Therefore I welcome this amendment. I would welcome still further the possibility of inserting a provision that the council would know in advance the major areas of policy consideration which were coming up before the Department and that they would know this as of right and not when the Minister decided in particular instances to consult them. It is not good for the morale of an advisory council if they are only consulted about matters on which the Minister may wish to consult them and if they do not feel they have a right to be consulted about any of the significant policy matters.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 20:
In page 11, subsection (2), line 9, to delete "an" and substitute "a particular."
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 21:
In page 11, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following new subsection before subsection (3):
(3) The Minister shall take such steps as he considers appropriate to keep the Council informed of matters relating to the conservation of wildlife which are, in his opinion, likely to assist the Council in performing the functions assigned to it by subsection (2) of this section."
(Cavan): The object of this amendment is to ensure a flow of information from the Minister to the advisory council in relation to wildlife conservation programmes generally so that the council may function more effectively. The absence of such a provision from the section, as drafted, was a serious omission and needs to be rectified. If the advisory council are to serve the Minister to the best advantage, they will need to be in possession of the fullest possible information and it is only right that they should get from the Minister any data which he considers might help them in their work.
As Senator Robinson will see, the points raised by her are being taken care of in the Bill. The amendment which I have now moved reads:
The Minister shall take such steps as he considers appropriate to keep the Council informed of matters relating to the conservation of wildlife which are, in his opinion, likely to assist the Council in performing the functions assigned to it by subsection (2) of this section.
Subsection (2) reads:
The Council may, either of its own volition or at the request of the Minister, make recommendations to the Minister as to the Minister's policy in relation to the conservation of wildlife or as to objectives to be fixed or programmes to be implemented by the Minister in relation to such conservation, but nothing in this subsection shall be construed as enabling the Council to make to the Minister any recommendation as regards an administrative matter.
We have just amended that subsection. If Senator Robinson will take section 13, subsection (2) and the amendment I have just moved, she will see it is the clear intention that the Minister will make available to the council all information which would be necessary to enable them to perform their functions under subsection (2). The functions clearly set out in subsection (2) are advisory functions, to advise the Minister. I agree with Senator Robinson that it would be foolish if they were to advise the Minister in retrospect, or after he had taken a decision. I would ask the Senator to accept that subsection (2), coupled with the amendment I have just moved, meets her point. It does not state that the Minister must consult them beforehand, but the gist of the matter is that he will make them aware of what is happening and will welcome and even await their suggestions.
This amendment will improve the possibility of the Wildlife Advisory Council discharging their functions in the best possible way and having a good flow of information. I am still not sure it ensures that the council will receive this information at a sufficiently early stage. As the Minister said, it would be absurd if the council were informed after the policy decision had been made and after a whole programme had been set in motion. For example, the amendment does not say: "The Minister shall take such steps as he considers appropriate to keep the council informed in advance of matters relating to the conservation of wildlife."
I am glad to hear his undertaking in relation to the role of the council and I am sure it will be appreciated. However, it is important that the section itself does ensure that the council will get the adequate information in advance of any decisions in order that their own recommendations may influence and be part of the decision-making process. I accept that this new subsection will improve the dialogue between the Minister and the advisory council, but I am still not quite satisfied that it will necessarily mean that the council will, as of right, get the information sufficiently in advance. The absence of a statutory obligation to consult leaves some gap, but the amendment is an improvement on the original section.
(Cavan): I suggest to the Senator that there is the parliamentary safeguard. The idea in having an advisory council is so that they may advise the Minister, so that the Minister may consult them in advance of important policy decisions or administrative steps which might effect policy. If a proper and harmonious relationship is to exist between the Minister and the council, it is essential that the Minister would make available to them such information as is necessary in advance of decisions being taken by him.
Senator Robinson will not overlook the fact that the Minister's Estimate is debated in the Dáil once a year and that on the Appropriation Bill, Seanad Éireann has an opportunity of discussing these matters. Therefore, if the Minister were to be guilty of such a dereliction of duty as to simply set up a council and ignore them, the council would react and convey their reaction to Members of Parliament. We would have that threshed out both in the Dáil and Seanad. That is the great parliamentary safeguard which democracy exercises over ministerial functions and the day-to-day workings of Departments.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 24 are related and may be taken together.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 11, line 35, to delete "The members" and substitute "Fifty per cent of the members of the Council shall be elected by the Regional Game Councils. The remaining members".
With Senator McGlinchey's permission, and I am sure he will agree, I will withdraw this amendment. He is looking for too much in that amendment. He is proposing that 50 per cent of the council shall be elected by the regional game councils. We are proposing in amendment No. 24 that the game councils would be included. The Minister has an amendment in which field sports are mentioned. I should like the Minister to tell us what he means by field sports.
(Cavan): Hunting, shooting and fishing.
The Minister should specially mention regional game councils.
(Cavan): I understand that Senator McGlinchey's amendment will be withdrawn. I accept the views expressed by Senator Ryan on that. The composition of the Wildlife Advisory Council is deliberately widely cast in order to provide the fullest possible representation consistent with efficiency. I am not prepared to write into the Bill the names of any individual organisation or the proportion of its representation on the council. At the same time, I can accept the general tenor of the amendment in the names of Senator Ryan and Senator Garrett, and say that there will be no difficulty as regards giving the National Association of Regional Game Councils representation on the council. To this end, and to remove any possible doubts on the matter, I propose to expand the categories from which members would be chosen by adding “field sports” to the list. The Government amendment to subsection (6) takes care of that
I am not prepared to write in, in black and white, that any particular organisation or association shall be represented, or be entitled to representation, as such, on the council. If the Senator refers to subsection (6) of section 13 he will see:
The members of the Council shall be appointed by the Minister and shall include such number of persons, by reason of their knowledge or experience of, or interest in, agriculture, fisheries, the conservation of wildlife or some other science, as he considers will ensure that the Council will assist materially in the furtherance of wildlife conservation.
I have added "field sports" to that list. There will be an obligation on the Minister in appointing members of the council to ensure that they have the sort of qualifications set out in subsection (6) of section 13 to enable them to perform the functions assigned to them under the Bill. It would not be right to write into the Bill that any particular council or association should be represented. This has not been the practice over the years.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 23:
In page 11, line 37, subsection (6), to insert "field sports," after "fisheries,".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 24 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 13, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
I should like to ask the Minister why he has chosen to keep entirely in his own power in making an order rather than specify in the Bill the composition of the council. It is strange when a body of this sort is being established that so much relating to it will depend completely on the particular Minister and that there will be no parliamentary view about it—for example, about the size of the council. I could see that it might give rise to quite substantial difficulties if the council were either too large to discharge their functions efficiently and adequately, or so small that they constituted a clique and were not therefore sufficiently representative.
I appreciate that there may be difficulties in establishing a wildlife advisory council of this nature. We seem to have given the Minister carte blanche. He will decide who the members will be, the constitution of it, the size of it, on what terms people serve on the council, and so on. As a lawyer, I am always apprehensive of giving carte blanche in relation to the establishment of institutions. I am not sure it is good for the morale of those who will serve on the council. It may be that they will feel unable to give sufficiently independent advice and that they will feel unprotected. For example, if we had a clause in the section that the members would serve for a three-year, or five-year period, at least they would know that they would have a fixed term, but even this is not spelled out in the section. I would be interested in the Minister's view as to why he feels he requires such total control over the composition of the council.
(Cavan): It is true that the section which establishes the council is wide and that the details of the council are left to the Minister. Subsection (1) of section 13 provides:
The Minister shall by order establish a body which shall be known as the Wildlife Advisory Council (which body is referred to in this Act as the Council) to perform the functions assigned to it by this Act.
Subsection (2) provides:
The Council may, either of its own volition or at the request of the Minister, make recommendations to the Minister.
Subsection (3) provides:
The Minister may request the Council to furnish to him its opinion in relation to any function assigned to him by this Act.
Subsection (4) provides:
Subject to subsection (5) of this section, the Minister may by order, made with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service in so far as it relates to allowances for members of the Council, provide for such one or more of the following as he considers appropriate:
(a) the constitution of the Council,
(b) the period for which and the terms and conditions upon and subject to which the members of the Council are to hold office,
(c) the manner in which a member of the Council may resign,
(d) the business and procedure of the Council,
(e) the payment of specified allowances to members of the Council,
(f) any matter which is ancillary or incidental to any of the foregoing.
Subsection (5) provides:
Before making an order under this section which contains provisions relating to the constitution of the Council, the Minister shall consult any other Minister of State or a body established by or regulated under statute considered by the Minister to be concerned.
Subsection (6) spells out the qualifications of the members. I agree with the Senator that if it were to end there and if Parliament had no further control over the establishment of the council, she might have grounds for complaint. The Minister cannot establish this council until he gets statutory authority from the Oireachtas to do so. When he does establish this council he will establish it by order and that order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas in accordance with the terms of the Bill, and each House of the Oireachtas will have an opportunity, if it so wishes, to put down a motion to discuss and rescind the order establishing the council. I would ask the Seanad to accept that, in that way, both the Dáil and Seanad are retaining effective control over the establishment of the council.
I accept that the Minister's order will come before the House under the procedure in section 8, subsection (4), subject to annulment. However, the reality is that a motion of that sort very rarely is raised on the floor of the House and a more effective control, given the very broad terms of section 13, would be in this particular instance if the order were to be laid in draft and subject to the approval of both Houses, in which case time would have to be given and there would be a discussion on the composition of the council.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 14 stand part of the Bill."
We are opposing the setting up of these boards. I know the Minister does not intend to set up the boards just now, but he is leaving the gate open to set them up at any time he or any other Minister thinks fit. We all agreed with the setting up of the advisory council. That was a good day's work. The advisory council are capable of doing all the work necessary without boards being established.
We have a number of different boards: Bord na gCapall, Bord na gCon, and various other boards. They are all doing a good job. If we have a board and also an advisory council, I wonder will they work hand in hand. There is always the danger that, if you set up a board, by degrees it will eventually take over everything and set up a dictatorship if you like. That is why we are opposed to the section. I suppose there is no point in pursuing it too far because the Minister probably has his mind made up, but I just wished to express the views of my party on section 14.
I understand the logic of the general argument put forward by Senator Ryan but I do not agree with his conclusion that there should not be this power to establish boards. In section 14 the Minister is taking a very wise precaution, enabling the establishment, if it should seem appropriate to him, of boards for certain purposes. I will give just one example where the Minister might consider it appropriate. It might be that a particular problem in relation to wildlife existed in part of the country which did not exist in another part of it and it might be appropriate for the Minister to have some special board to keep an eye on the situation there.
I would have thought that the idea contained in amendment No. 24, which I think was withdrawn by the same Senators, might have been based on the need for regional representation in respect of specific tasks and that there might have been a desire to have a representative of the National Association of Regional Game Councils on the council to be set up under this Bill because of particular local circumstances. If I were arguing for that amendment that is the basis on which I would have made my argument.
The Minister's view in that regard was accepted by the Seanad, and rightly so. The Minister was probably right in refusing to look on the council which he is establishing as being a body, so to speak, representative of existing bodies or on which members would serve, regarding their mandate as being merely representatives of particular existing bodies. But by reason of the power contained in section 14, he can meet the same kind of necessity should the occasion arise and, again, if he is doing it, he must do it by order and the order must come before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
(Cavan): This is intended to be a very comprehensive measure. Indeed, it is desirable that it should be a comprehensive measure if we look at the history of conservation and game preservation and wild bird preservation. No effective Act has been introduced here to deal with the subject since 1930, and that is 45 years ago. In the order of things, I suppose conservation, the arts, and so on, are inclined to be put on the long finger when there are commercial matters and bread and butter items to be dealt with. Therefore, it is highly desirable that we should put on the Statute Book now a comprehensive measure which will will not only meet with the situation as we see it today, but which will last for many years to come and will serve to conserve wildlife and to provide machinery for conserving wildlife not alone for the foreseeable future but beyond that.
As Senator Ryan has said, and admitted, it is not proposed to establish these boards at the moment. We are merely providing here machinery to establish them. I do not accept Senator Ryan's suggestion that their establishment could lead to little dictatorships. I do not accept that at all because again, just as the order establishing the council under section 13 must be laid before this House and the Lower House, so also would any order establishing the boards envisaged in section 14 have to be laid before the Oireachtas and it would be open to debate and discussion and decision there. The activities of the boards would come up for discussion annually on the Estimate for the Department.
If I were to be pressed to give details of what I envisage these boards doing, I might indeed find it difficult. I concede that difficulty, but it is anticipated that, if in the future, it appears that some facet of wildlife conservation could be more effectively dealt with by a board, then such a board would be set up to deal with it. The order setting it up would come before the Houses of the Oireachtas and would be debated there. That is what is involved in section 14.
This is another broad enabling provision, as the Minister has made clear, enabling him in the future, if the specific need arises, to establish a board. In the matter of conservation it is necessary to have this sort of reserved power. It is desirable to have this possibility rather than not doing anything because of the difficulty of getting another Wildlife Bill passed through both Houses. The arguments I made in relation to the advisory council are even stronger here in relation to the board. It is not sufficient, it is not a genuine parliamentary scrutiny, to provide that the Minister must lay the order before both Houses and then it can be annulled if a motion is passed to that effect. That is not in reality a control because time will not be given for a debate on it unless the Government want to defeat the order of their own Minister, which is highly unlikely.
Therefore I suggest that in this particular circumstance the Minister should reconsider making provision in relation to this section for the order to be laid in draft. The reason for this is that the Minister has said with commendable honesty that he could not specify the particular areas where it may be necessary to establish boards in the future because this will be an evolving problem. I would very much welcome the fact that he had this reserved power and that, if a specific need arose which required delegating the functions which he exercises under this Act, he would be able to delegate those functions, subject to being able to give directives which the board must comply with. It would seem to me that it would be much better, if there was a specific requirement for a parliamentary review by the Oireachtas in relation to a specific proposal, that the Oireachtas would be given an opportunity of commenting in detail on or referring to the precise function which will be delegated to the board sometime in the future when this question arises. It might be that, after some years, there would be several of these boards.
In the circumstances it would be preferable to have a positive guarantee that there will be a parliamentary view on the nature and functions of this board to be established in the future and that it is a reserved power which the House would feel is appropriate to the circumstances. I ask the Minister to consider the possibility that the order be laid in draft.
The Wildlife Advisory Council is a purely advisory body. It has no statutory powers and its only function is to advise the Minister. It is representative of various interests such as agricultural, fishing, wildlife, fauna, and field sports. It may be necessary for a board with a statutory basis to carry certain functions. I could visualise that on the advice of the advisory councils the Minister might set up a board to carry out certain functions. That could be done effectively only by some body with a statutory basis. I hope the Minister would be consulted and advised by the advisory council before the setting up of this board. There is a valid necessity for it and it will be useful to all the interests represented on the advisory council as well as to the Minister.
(Cavan): Regarding Senator Robinson's comments, I could not accept her argument regarding a draft of the order setting up the board being more valid on this section than under section 13. She would have a stronger case for asking that the draft order establishing the advisory council be brought before the House now because it is intended to proceed with it immediately.
When these boards are being established procedures might be different. The activities of the Forest and Wildlife Section of my Department might have changed, views in general on wildlife conservation or certain sports associated with it might have changed and a different type of board might need to be established.
I refer Senator Robinson to the Second Schedule to the Bill which sets out in considerable detail a constitution for the boards it is proposed to establish. I would suggest to the Senator that that Second Schedule provides guidelines and gives an indication of the working and constitution of the board. Having regard to that I would ask her to accept that this House is not giving an entirely blank cheque to the Minister for Lands. If he decides to establish these boards he will have to operate within a constitution provided in the Second Schedule.
I do not accept that the distinction drawn by the Minister between the order establishing the Wildlife Advisory Council and the possible future order establishing a board in relation to unknown functions really supports the point made. The argument is stronger for the order to be laid in draft before both Houses of the Oireachtas than establishing the advisory council. As Senator Russell has said, the advisory council, although an important body, exercises advisory powers. This is a significant difference. This section relates to the possible future establishment of a board which will exercise the powers which the Minister is to be conferred with in the sections of this Act. What the Minister is asking both Houses of the Oireachtas to do it to give a blank cheque to delegate some of those powers in the future, subject to the Minister's authority to give the board binding directives. In such a way the Minister retains control. Otherwise there might be constitutional difficulties.
The fact that this is not a power to be exercised at this point in time and that there is not an intention to establish a board in relation to particular areas, makes it all the more important that there be a positive parliamentary involvement so that when in due course a board is established that board will exercise the powers of the Minister. I accept that there is a shell constitution of the board in the Second Schedule. The Minister may choose particular provision relating to it. Apart from whatever shape the board may take, of equal significance is the area of operation—the fact that a board is to be established in that area. While that is in draft there will not be any effective parliamentary view. I ask the Minister to concede the reality. A provision for the laying of an order subject to a motion for annulment is a very minor form of control and most unlikely to come before either House of the Oireachtas.
(Cavan): I believe that conservation has suffered over the years. Although the Game Preservation Act and the Wild Birds Protection Act passed by the Oireachtas in 1930 were at that time far-seeing and enlightened measures, as years went on they proved to be inadequate. However, it took 45 years to replace them. It takes a long time to get such a measure drafted. It is highly desirable that there should be flexible machinery provided in this measure now to enable the Department of Lands to perform their functions in regard to conservation and wildlife in general to the end of this century and beyond it.
Senator Robinson invites me to prepare and lay before the House a draft order establishing the board which may never be established, or at any rate not for 20 years. The whole climate of opinion and approach to these things may have changed. It might then be necessary to amend this draft order to introduce an amending Act. That could put the matter on the long finger again. I am honest enough to say that. Section 14 is merely an enabling measure. I do not concede for one moment that it is giving a blank cheque to a Minister or that Parliament is divesting itself of authority or of control of the Minister.
If I go back to my argument about the proviso that compels the Minister to lay the draft order under section 14 before Parliament, giving Parliament an opportunity of discussing it and rescinding it, I would repeat that that is an adequate safeguard. If I reject Senator Robinson's contention that such an order will never be rescinded, if it is not rescinded and if Parliament lets through or ignores an order that has been laid before it, even a bad order and one with which it disagrees, that is a reflection on Parliament and not on the Minister or on society in general. I do not accept that any Minister would grant an order of a dictatorial nature or which was undesirable, defective or objectionable and put it before the Dáil, because that Minister would know that if there was an Opposition worth its salt it would avail of the opportunity to highlight that and to debate and discredit the Minister who brought it before the House.
Senator Robinson said that rarely are these orders rescinded or debated. Perhaps the reason for that is that the Minister who is drafting and bringing them before Parliament knows that they can be debated and that it would damage his own standing and that of his Government if he were to bring before the Dáil a measure which did warrant annulment. I am not certain, but I think that in recent history such an order was annulled.
(Cavan): It would be very controversial if one were to deal with a case which happened not long ago. I think one did come before the Dáil and was annulled.
The Minister has made his views on this clear. I should like to make one further comment arising out of his reply. In seeking to have particular safeguards in a Bill there is a danger that one is seen to be suggesting that the Minister may try to do something wrong. He may try to do something dictatorial and obviously that is an important part of the control, but I believe that there is another side to it which is extremely important where the subject matter is conservation. I share the Minister's desire to get a very comprehensive, flexible and good Bill in this area. It is difficult to get time for such measures but I think it important that these matters be brought before the House with regularity.
The Minister has mentioned that this Bill, or any orders under it or the operation of it can be debated in the Dáil on the Estimates of his Department and that it can be debated on the Appropriation Bill in this House. These are certainly useful but limited matters. The effect of laying an order in draft, if this enabling power were to be exercised in the future, would be that there would be perhaps in 20 years' time the view of both Houses on the area chosen to delegate powers to a board and the particular functions that board would have. That has an educational value and a public interest value. It has an involvement of Senators and Deputies in 20 years' time who will be examining it. To think that the machinery of laying an order in draft subject to being confirmed by both Houses in only a policing role is too narrow a construction. It will also have a very substantial educational effect and it is a way of highlighting the activities in the area of conservation and specifically the role and activities of that board.
I regret the fact that the Minister is not open to this suggestion because I think it is very substantially and specifically the sort of control which should be here where we are discussing an enabling power which may not be exercised for about 20 years. By that time the whole surrounding circumstances may be different and the danger is that this power may go by default. There will be nothing specifically wrong with the measure, and therefore it will never be raised in either House because nobody will want publicly to annul it, but they would have very much liked an opportunity to debate and discuss the functions of a particular board.
Question put and agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 25, 27, 28 and 29 are related and may be taken together.
I move amendment No. 25:
In page 13, line 13, after "land" to insert "or water".
The general purpose of these amendments is to extend what is one of the most praiseworthy activities of the Department of Lands to the area of water. I am aware that many young children have benefited immensely through participation in the forest walks organised by the Department of Lands. I propose in these amendments to extend the Department's activities to water.
I think all of the amendments speak for themselves. Amendment No. 27 states:
"(d) water which constitutes an ecosystem of scientific or community recreational interest."
This amendment has an importance which might be lost. As oil and gas development takes place and as pressure is built up—in the extent of the fishing industry, for example— very often there will be inlets and areas of water which constitute an ecosystem of scientific or community recreational interest. I think that this Bill might benefit if the Minister had power in that area.
(Cavan): I appreciate Senator Higgins's anxiety to ensure that this Bill can deal with water as well as with land. Having considered the amendment, I am not satisfied that it is necessary. If the Senator will refer to the definition of land given in section 2 of the Bill, page 6, which we have amended today. It says:
"land", where the context admits, includes land covered with water and in relation to the acquisition of land also includes any easement, profit á prendre or other right in, to or over land or water (including any easement, profit á prendre or other right granted to or held by the Minister);
I think that the Senator will agree that that meets his point adequately and that his amendments are not necessary.
I should like to ask the Minister to what extent do our territorial waters extend? Is it three miles or 12 miles?
(Cavan): They are defined in another statute. I cannot tell the Senator offhand what it is.
Does the Minister for Lands have control over the fish life in this territorial area?
(Cavan): No. This Bill does not deal with fish life, except very marginally.
The Minister's reply to my amendment indicated his admirable intentions for this area. However does the Minister not think, particularly in the case of amendment No. 29, that if "or marine reserve" was inserted after "reserve" the Bill would benefit from that? The purpose of the group of four amendments is recreational. The phrase "or marine reserve" would enable the Minister to expand administratively something which has been accepted as being very important and beneficial to date.
(Cavan): I understand that it is a principle of draftsmanship that it is not desirable to define too closely what one wishes to say because that may give rise to trouble in interpretation of the Act.
I am advised that the proposed amendment is superfluous. The expression "nature reserve" will include marine nature reserves, and the section, as it stands, makes adequate provision for such habitats. In other words, I am advised that section 15 (1) (c) will be the basis of marine reserves and the points raised by the Senator are already covered in the Bill as drafted.
I wish to comment on section 15 regarding territorial waters. We are all hazy as to whether our territorial limits extend three miles or 12 miles. I advocate that it be 50 miles. We have been most lax as a nation in not seeking greater extension of our limits.
Two hundred miles is the current fashion.
Yes, but we are not sure whether it is only three or 12 miles in this country. The Icelanders will be on top of us soon if their limits are extended. They have gone out 200 miles. We should start thinking in terms of at least a 50-mile limit.
(Cavan): A discussion on our fishing limits and territorial waters would be very interesting and is very important. The proposals are elastic at the moment, extending from six miles to 200 miles, but it is not relevant on this section.
In relation to what Senator Deasy has said, will the Minister's Department be making a submission, for example, for the redrafting of the law of the sea which will protect "an ecosystem of scientific or community recreational interest?"
(Cavan): There is a convention of the law of the sea in progress at the moment, and this country is represented thereon by the Attorney General. No doubt the remarks of Senator Deasy and Senator M.D. Higgins will be brought to the attention of the Attorney General, and I will mention the remarks to him.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 26:
In page 13, line 15, subsection (1), to insert ", including land" after "State".
(Cavan): This is essentially a drafting point. Section 15 is intended to relate to all State-owned land and was not meant to be restricted to lands owned by the Minister for Lands whether jointly or separately.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 27, 28 and 29 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 15, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
I am satisfied that the making of an order under section 15 is a matter in which the Wildlife Advisory Council could have have some views.
(Cavan): Yes, there is no doubt about that being one of the important matters on which the would be expected to have some views.
Question put and agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 30 and 32 are cognate and may be taken together.
I move amendment No. 30:
To substitute "land or foreshore" for "land" in each place where the latter word occurs throughout the section.
I was speaking to Senator West this morning and I know he was of the view that another Bill was to be taken before this one, which explains why he is not here to move these amendments himself so, in his absence, I should like to move these amendments so that the Minister may indicate his attitude to us.
(Cavan): I am advised and I accept that these amendments are unnecessary. “Foreshore” is land and any doubt as to its being land when it is covered by water is removed by the definition of “land” in section 2.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 16 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 31:
To substitute "fauna or flora" for "fauna" in each place where the latter word occurs throughout the section.
I should like to hear the Minister's attitude on this.
(Cavan): I am not disposed to accept this amendment which seeks to include “flora” in the section which is designed to deal exclusively with refuges for fauna. The protection of flora is adequately and appropriately catered for under sections 15 and 16, nature reserves; section 18, agreements relating to management of privately owned land; and under the overall protection of flora in section 21. While the protective measures included in an order under section 17 designating a refuge for fauna would almost certainly contain a spin-off benefit for flora of the area, it would be quite inappropriate to deal with rare or endangered species of flora under the section. The reasons would be obvious.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 32 not moved.
Government amendment No. 33:
In page 15, lines 9 to 13, to substitute the following subsection for subsection (2):
"(2) Before publishing a notice pursuant to this section, the Minister shall—
(a) consult the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Minister for Transport and Power, the Commissioners and any planning authority in whose area the land to which the notice relates, or any part of such land, is situate, and
(b) serve on the owner or occupier of such land notice of the particulars to be contained in the notice he proposes to so publish."
(Cavan): I am satisfied that the publication of a notice of intention to make or amend a designation order in Iris Oifigiúil and in the local press does not go far enough and that a copy of the notice should also be served on the owner or owners or occupiers of the land concerned to ensure that they would be fully aware of the proposal. The amendment provides accordingly.
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 17, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Under this section of the Bill it is considered that provisions should be made to the appeals court by agreed parties against Ministerial designation orders. It is also a question of compensation made by the Minister under section 17, subsection (11) and (12). These should be challengeable in the courts and the payment of costs incurred by individuals in connection with matters concerning designation orders and appeals under this section should be payable by the State, wherever appropriate.
(Cavan): The Senator makes the point that designation orders should be the subject of appeals to the courts and that compensation fixed by the Minister should also be subject to appeal. I shall look into both these points which have been raised by Senator Walsh and I shall deal with them on Report Stage.
Question put and agreed to.
Government amendment No. 34:
In page 16, subsection (1), line 38, to delete "or use".
Amendments Nos. 34 and 35 are consequential and may be taken together.
(Cavan): It has been proposed to me—and I accept the point that the definition of “management” as drafted is too restricted. The effect of these amendments would be to define “management” as including all use of land for agriculture and forestry, all forms of development of land and all changes in the physical, topographical and ecological nature of the land and use of the land for educational and recreational purposes. It is extending the definition and it improves the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 35:
In page 17, lines 14 to 18, to substitute the following subsection for subsection (7):
"(7) in this section ‘management' in relation to land means use of the land for agriculture or forestry, the carrying out of works on, in or under the land, the making of any change in the physical, topographical of ecological nature or characteristics of the land and the use of the land for educational or recreational purposes."
Amendment agreed to.
Section 18, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 19 to 21, inclusive, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 36:
In page 19, subsection (4), lines 17 to 21, to substitute the following for paragraph (a):
"(a) (i) hunts a protected wild bird, other than a protected wild bird which is of a species specified in an order under section 24 of this, otherwise than under and in accordance with a permission or licence granted by the Minister under this Act, or
(ii) hunts a protected wild bird which is of a species specified in an order under section 24 of this Act, otherwise than—
(A) under and in accordance with such a permission or a licence granted by the Minister under this Act other than section 29,
(B) under and in accordance with a licence granted under section 29 of this Act and (also) on a day, or during a period of days, specified in a relevant order under the said section 24,
(b) injures a protected wild bird otherwise than while hunting it,
(i) in case the protected wild bird is of a species other than a species specified in an order under section 24 of this Act, under and in accordance with a licence or permission granted by the Minister under this Act,
(ii) in case the protected wild bird is of a species so specified, either in the manner mentioned in clause (A) of paragraph (a) (ii) of this subsection, or in the manner and on a day, or during a period of days, mentioned in clause (B) of the said paragraph (a) (ii)."
(Cavan): This rather elaborate amendment is aimed essentially at clarification. Subsection (4) is intended to establish the offences relating to wild birds which are to be protected under the Bill. In that sense the subsection should correspond with subsection (5) of section 23, page 21, lines 9 to 21. As it stands, however, the subsection has been interpreted in different ways and the new paragraph (a) is aimed at putting the meaning of the subsection beyond doubt.
The second part of the amendment, the new paragraph (b), is intended to "catch" the deliberate injuring of protected wild birds, for example, by pelting stones at them. Though the definition of "hunt" in section 2 is very wide, it does not extend to injuring fauna. It would not be appropriate, having regard to the use of the word "hunt" throughout the Bill, to include "injure" in the definition of "hunt". A corresponding amendment is being made in regard to the protected wild animals in section 23. This will improve the section considerably.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 37:
In page 19, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following subsection:—
"(4) For the purpose of giving jurisdiction under this Act an offence under this section shall be deemed to have been committed where the person complained against has been apprehended or found in possession, as the case may be."
Amendments Nos. 37 and 45 are cognate and may be taken together.
The reason we tabled this amendment is to prevent people who would be brought to court putting forward the argument that the offence was not committed in that particular court area.
It is giving it extra-territorial jurisdiction.
It may be. A man may see somebody poaching, but before he can reach the poacher, who may be two or three fields away, the man might have to travel quite a distance in his car. If that poacher is apprehended with an illegal possession, a bird or a hare, I suppose he will be brought before the courts for the area in which he is apprehended. If he is aware that he is being pursued he will get rid of his illegal possessions. The only evidence available will be that of the person who saw him committing the offence. The place where he is apprehended may be ten miles from the place where the offence was committed, but it is in the court of that area he should be prosecuted. When he is brought before the court his solicitor will argue that his client is not being tried in the appropriate court. The Game Council feel very strongly about this. It is a loophole in the Bill through which many offenders will escape if the Minister is not prepared to accept this amendment.
I am not sure to what extent it is necessary to plug this alleged loophole, but if it is necessary it would seem to me to be a sensible step to take. I assume that the position at the moment is clear enough. An offence can be prosecuted in the District Court area where it has been committed. The purpose of the amendment is not to extend the jurisdiction of the District Court but to extend the definition of the offence so that the offence can be deemed to have been committed in another area if the person who has committed the offence is apprehended there or is found in possession, as the case might be, in that other area.
It seems to me that it would give greater protection and would eliminate a possible loophole if it was quite clear to everyone that, if an offence was committed, a person may be prosecuted where the offence has been committed or that he may be prosecuted in an adjoining court area if, in fact, that is where he is apprehended. I am in some doubt whether or not it is necessary. A second doubt which arises is that it seems to be going a bit far to say that the offence should be deemed to have been committed where a person is apprehended if, in fact, that is going to fly in the teeth of the evidence, if everyone knows that it was not committed there. I feel there should be some way of remedying this position—I do not know whether it comes within the Minister's bailiwick at all—by ensuring that, regardless of where the person is apprehended, a prosecution can follow, whether it is in that District Court area or within the area where the offence has been committed.
(Cavan): I can appreciate Senator Ryan's difficulty on the points raised by Senator O'Higgins. The purpose behind the amendment is to give jurisdiction to a district justice in the case where it is clear that an offence has been committed but where the exact location cannot be established. Under the District Court Rules, 1940, Rule 25, the case could be heard in the District Court area where the accused person resides, but this could be very inconvenient for witness if the accused lived a long distance away.
I am satisfied that the Government amendments, to section 45, which are aimed at making possession of unlawfully taken species an offence, will meet the vast majority of cases which the Senators have in mind. However, my Department are considering the matter further, in consultation with the Department of Justice, to see whether more can be done to meet the Senator's point. I will deal with the matter further on Report Stage.
As the law exists at the moment and as the rules exist, a person may be prosecuted in the District Court area, (a), where the offence is committed or (b), where the defendant resides. Senator Ryan poses the question, if he sees somebody shoot a pheasant or contravene the Act in some other way, and that person, knowing he has been seen, drives off, what is the position if Senator Ryan is able to catch up with him later on? If the poacher has the pheasant, hare or whatever it is, he is guilty of an offence where he has been caught and he can be prosecuted then. Also, if Senator Ryan can establish that the person committed the offence in a certain place; if he can prove that he saw him shoot the pheasant and saw it fall but that when he caught up with the poacher it was not in his possession, he can still prosecute him in the District Court area where the pheasant was shot.
While it might be an inconvenience to follow the accused to his native District Court area, which might be 50 or 60 miles away, it could also be more serious for the offending person to be prosecuted there because the likelihood is that, as well as being fined £X, the accused would also be ordered to pay witnesses' expenses, which would cover the travelling expenses and loss of time of the witness who had to travel from the locality in which the offence was committed.
I do not honestly think that there is as much in the Senator's point as might appear at first sight, because if he can establish where the offence was committed, the townland where it was committed, a prosecution may then be brought in the District Court area which includes that townland. If the accused drives off to some other part and is found with the game or a gun, he can then be prosecuted in the area where he was caught. Failing all that, if for some reason or another, the person who detects the accused is not able to say where the offence was committed, if he is not able to name the townland, the accused can be prosecuted where he resides. While I shall have a look at this matter again, the Government amendment to section 45 to make possession an offence, goes a long way to remove the problems which Senator Ryan feels exists at the present time.
In view of the Minister's statement—I accept that there is some doubt—that he will have another look at this matter before Report Stage, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment. I would ask the Minister to have another look at this section before it goes to the Dáil.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 38:
In page 19, subsection (5), lines 31 and 32, to substitute the following paragraph for paragraph (a):
(a) while engaged in agriculture, fishing or forestry unintentionally to injure or kill a protected wild bird, or".
(Cavan): This amendment is purely for consistency of drafting with the similar provision, relating to protected wild animals, in section 23 (7) (a).
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 39:
In page 19, subsection (5), lines 38 to 40, to substitute the following paragraph for paragraph (d):
(d) to kill humanely a protected wild bird which has been injured in the manner described in paragraph (a) or captured in the manner described in paragraph (c) or injured in the circumstances described in paragraph (g) of this subsection, or".
(Cavan): The essential amendment here is to allow for the humane killing of protected wild birds injured in the manner described in paragraph (g).
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 40:
In page 19, subsection (5), line 55, after "instrument" to insert "or anything caused by or which results from, or is consequent upon or the effect of any other act or thing which is lawfully done."
(Cavan): It has been represented to me that there is no let-out in this subsection for the unintentional killing or injuring of a protected wild bird except in so far as ordinary agricultural, fishery or forestry operations are concerned. A case in point, which happens occasionally, is the accidental running down of game birds with a motor car. While I consider the point to be a very fine one I am nevertheless proposing this Government amendment to meet it.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 41:
(6) It shall be an offence for any person or body to carry out any work described in subsection (5) (g) of this section without obtaining the advice of a zoologist or botanist where the community interest so demands."
(Cavan): While recognising fully the intention behind this proposal, I am afraid that such an amendment would not be practicable, especially in the light of the inclusion of the phrase “where the community interest so demands”. The subjective nature of this phrase would, in my view, virtually negative the underlying idea of the amendment. Apart altogether from that, the restrictions contained in section 12 will safeguard the really important habitats. In other cases, I would expect that where the value of wildlife is significant, in connection with the sort of activity mentioned in subsection 5 (g), common sense will prevail and advice will be sought before any irreparable damage is done. My Department will, of course, be available to give such advice wherever the need arises. In short, I consider the amendment as unduly restrictive and to a large degree impracticable. Therefore, I cannot agree to its adoption.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 42:
In page 20, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following new paragraph before paragraph (c):
(c) to so hunt, on such day or during such period of days, protected wild birds or a species so specified for the purpose of either training gun dogs or any field sport or holding gun dog trials.
(Cavan): This amendment is necessary because of the wide definition of the word “hunt” in section 2 of the Bill. The effect of the amendment would be to add a further exception to the hunting prohibition in subsection (4) (a) which would permit the training and trial of gun dogs. While game birds are necessarily disturbed or flushed by discharging a blank cartridge from a shotgun, in such training and trials there is no killing involved. The training of gun dogs is a long-established business which includes an export trade and would not conflict with the purposes of the Bill. It is an improvement on the Bill to facilitate the training of gun dogs without in any way interfering with conservation.
Before putting that amendment, may I say it is related to amendment No. 43 for the purpose of discussion and No. 43 may now be taken.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 43:
To add to the section the following subsection:
"(9) The Minister shall make regulations enabling persons, who have to train young gun dogs, red setters or retrievers, to hunt without guns for at least one month prior to the commencement of the season."
(Cavan): The underlying objective of amendment No. 43 has been met and I suggest that the amendment be withdrawn.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That section 22, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
This is a rather small point but I have been looking down through the list under subsection (5) where it shall not be an offence for a person to do something. I am puzzled by the scope of subsection (5) (e) which provides:
to take eggs of a protected wild bird or to move eggs from the nest of such a bird to that of another bird of the same species for the purpose of having them hatched out.
I should like to ask the Minister whether, as this paragraph stands, it is possible for a trespasser to take the eggs of a pheasant and transfer them to a tame pheasant to hatch them out. This seems to be broad enough to make that a perfectly legal activity.
(Cavan): No. I am satisfied it does not permit trespassing. Trespassing is dealt with in other sections of the Bill. I cannot refer the Senator to them offhand. I am satisfied that that particular paragraph does not give authority for somebody to do something which one could not otherwise lawfully do. It means, and the Senator who has a much more refined knowledge of the law than I have, that it would not be an offence under this section.
Yes. I am not sure I made my point clear. I am glad that paragraph (e) does not legalise trespassing, but is it broad enough that if a person is trespassing and may be guilty of trespassing, he still cannot be found guilty and would have a defence here if he were found taking eggs from under a pheasant to transfer them to a tame pheasant?
(Cavan): They would be guilty of trespassing.
They would have this defence.
(Cavan): No. They would then be guilty of trespassing and larceny, or as they used to say in regard to other offences long ago, “with aggravation.”
Would they? Would they not be covered by this paragraph?
(Cavan): I hardly think so.
Why put it on the basis of trespassing at all? I was interested in trying to get the answer to the query Senator Robinson raised. Suppose I, on my own land, take the eggs from the nest of one pheasant and bring them along to a tame pheasant, it seems to me that I am permitted to do that under the Bill. I presume there is a reason for that. If it came to my notice, for example, that the hatching hen pheasant had been killed or run over by a car, it would obviously be a good thing for me to take the eggs and have them hatched out elsewhere, even if I did not stick to the same species, and got a clucking hen to do it. I assume there is some explanation like that for this. I agree with Senator Robinson that the exculpatory power of this is very broad. It need not be put on the basis of the person committing the offence of trespassing or any other offence for the purpose of doing this.
(Cavan): I can only say to Senator Robinson that I respect the views expressed by her and I will have it looked into before the next Stage or before going to the Dáil. I am satisfied, and in no way being insulting, that, in applying a commonsense view to it, it is not broad enough to permit the person to do what the Senator suggests.
Question put and agreed to.
Government amendment No. 44:
In page 21, lines 9 to 21, to substitute the following subsection for subsection (5):
"(5) Any person who—
(a) hunts a protected wild animal which is not an exempted wild mammal otherwise than under and in accordance with a permission or licence granted by the Minister under this Act,
(b) hunts an exempted wild mammal otherwise than,
(i) under and in accordance with such a permission or a licence granted by the Minister under this Act other than section 29, or
(ii) under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister under section 29 of this Act and (also) on a day, or during a period of days, specified in a relevant order under section 25 of this Act,
(c) injures a protected wild animal otherwise than while hunting it,
(i) in case the protected wild animal is not an exempted wild mammal, under and in accordance with such a permission or a licence granted by the Minister under this Act,
(ii) in case the protected wild animal is an exempted wild mammal, either,
(A) under and in accordance with such a permission or a licence granted by the Minister under this Act other than section 29, or
(B) in the manner and on a day, or during a period of days, mentioned in subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of this subsection,
(d) wilfully interferes with or destroys the breeding place of any protected wild animal,
shall be guilty of an offence."
(Cavan): This rather elaborate amendment is aimed essentially at clarification. Subsection (5) is intended to establish the offence relating to wild animals which will be protected under the Bill and is the parallel of section 22 (4). The new paragraphs (a) and (b) have been recast, for clarity, on the lines of the corresponding paragraph (a) (i) and (ii) of subsection (4) of section 22, relating to protected wild birds. The paragraphs were also being amended to exclude from the hunting prohibitions of the section any action taking in accordance with the permission granted by the Minister under section 30 or 42. A new paragraph (c) is intended to cover the deliberate injury of protected wild animals. As explained in the similar amendment in the new paragraph (b) of section 22 (4), the definition of “hunt” in section 2 does not extend to injuring fauna nor would it be appropriate to include injuring in that definition. The new paragraph (d) has been extended to make unlawful the blocking up of entrances to or other wilful interference with badger setts, otter dens or other breeding places of protected wild animals. I take it that that would commend itself to the House.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 45 not moved.
Government amendment No. 46:
In page 21, subsection (7), line 27, to insert "for a person" after "offence".
(Cavan): This amendment is purely a drafting amendment for consistency with the wording of section 22 (5).
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 47:
In page 21, subsection (7), to insert "or" at the end of line 29.
This can be taken in conjunction with amendment No. 49.
(Cavan): This is purely a drafting amendment for consistency with the use of the conjunction “or” in the similar provisions in section 22 (5).
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 48:
In page 21, subsection (7), line 30, to insert "interfere with or" before "destroy".
(Cavan): This is also a drafting amendment consequent on the amendment on page 21, line 20.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 49:
In page 21, subsection (7), to insert "or" at the end of each of the following lines, namely, lines 31, 37 and 40.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 50:
In page 21, subsection (7), between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following new paragraph:
"(e) to kill humanely a protected wild animal which is either injured in the manner described in paragraph (a) of this subsection or captured in the manner described in paragraph (d) of this subsection, or so to kill a protected wild animal injured in the circumstances described in paragraph (c) of this subsection,"
(Cavan): The purpose of this new paragraph (e) is to provide exceptions for the humane killing of protected wild animals captured or injured in these circumstances. It corresponds to the similar provision in section 22, subsection (5), paragraph (d).
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 51:
In page 21, subsection (7), lines 42 to 45, to delete subparagraph (i).
Amendments Nos. 51, 61, 111 and 112 may be discussed together.
(Cavan): The provision in the paragraph referred to merely repeats the existing situation and, having regard to the general attitude to coursing as reflected in the Bill, I do not propose to delete it.
If the Minister is not prepared to go so far as to eliminate coursing, would he not feel that it would be appropriate to at least regulate coursing to prevent cruelty and abuses in connection with it? For example, the present law against cruelty to animals is the Protection of Animals Acts, the later one being in 1965. This legislation applied to wild animals and did not stop, for example, hares being kept in a shed for a long period of time before being coursed and being cruelly treated in relation to that.
I was going to suggest to Senator Higgins it is agreed that we should rise at 5.30 p.m. and it does not seem to me that the Senator would finish within a minute. Possibly he would like to report progress.
I must pay tribute to the perception of Senator O'Higgins nothing that I will not finish within a minute. I am very grateful to Senator Robinson for having taken up this amendment, which I regard as being extremely important, and I shall resume on it. I now formally report progress.
Business suspended at 5.30 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.
I seek the support of the House for this amendment. The effect of this amendment will make coursing illegal. Subsection (7) states:
...nothing in this section shall make unlawful,
(i) the taking and killing of hares by coursing at a regulated coursing match which is held both during a period specified as regards hares in a hares order and in a place to which such order applies.
The Act would give a very minor level of control. The Minister has suggested that in the future attitudes towards wildlife may change. My view is that the barbaric practice of hare coursing should be stopped immediately. If this amendment is carried, then that will be the position.
I have not many observations to make. Coursing seems to have been a time-honoured pastime right down through the centuries in this country. Ancient histories and annals tell us that during certain months of the year people indulged in this sport. In recent times it has become commercialised and it provides employment for many people. I fail to see how, by introducing an amendment or making a law, one can prevent what is the ordinary cycle of one animal killing another. In coursing and bloodsports it is well known that the hare will get killed. It is inevitable that accidents will occur. I would not like to see hares hunted which had been kept in confinement for two or three days. The natural instinct of greyhounds is to hunt the hare and the natural instinct of the hare is to get out of the way as fast as he can. So far as animal nature and bird life is concerned, I do not think we can be blamed for it.
There is nothing wrong with hare hunting. There is keen competition attached to it. People involved in hare hunting will not attend meetings which are not properly organised. There is scope for escapes. Those hares are properly trained today. The greyhound industry is in the same position as our horse industry in that it is highly commercialised.
I am surprised at Senator Higgins's amendment. The Senator comes from a well-known coursing county. I was against coursing years ago when hares were killed very frequently. But that day is gone. The Irish Coursing Club have gone a long way to see that that does not happen any more. Any coursing club that does not have strong hares or does not care for the hares properly should not get a licence from the Irish Coursing Club for the following year.
While none of us likes to see a hare being killed at a coursing meeting, I believe the number that are killed now is much reduced on what it was in previous years. I would ask Senator Higgins not to pursue the prohibition of coursing. If it is prohibited, a lot of people will miss a sport they enjoy and, as a result, many people will be out of employment.
I, too, am a bit surprised that Senator Higgins is bringing this amendment before the Seanad. There are claims by minority groups that coursing is a very harsh sport. On the other hand, we have to take into consideration that coursing is fundamental to our greyhound industry. The Irish Coursing Club are doing an excellent job in the preservation of the hare species, irrespective of what those minority groups say. The coursing club see to it that the hares are allowed to roam free through the country when coursing is completed.
There are people who claim that the hares are ill-treated prior to coursing meetings. I attend coursing meetings and I have never seen evidence of this at any coursing meeting, but quite the opposite. The hares are adequately and perfectly cared for, both prior to the coursing meeting concerned and afterwards. I would advocate that coursing be maintained in its present form.
I am fascinated listening to the contributions to this amendment which I have the pleasure of supporting. I find it interesting. We are now on amendment No. 51 of this Wildlife Bill and I did not hear a squeak out of this side of the House until we started to discuss an amendment to abolish coursing. I have been told that there is a very strong procoursing lobby in this country and I now see evidence of it. I believe that coursing is a very cruel sport. It is cruel in its intent and cruel in the way it is applied. I would accept that certain improvements have been made in the past few years but I do not think they meet the principle of trying to prevent unnecessary and deliberate cruelty to animals. I do not think any safeguard which may have been mentioned would be sufficient to take away the essence of what this is all about—coursing a hare: trials where a number of hares are killed, the cruelty of the whole matter.
Curiously enough, as a member of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities, I had the pleasure of going on a deputation to the Westminster Parliament. We met various members of the House of Commons Committee who had stayed up until 4 a.m. the night before to pass a Bill to abolish coursing. Here we have an opportunity, by supporting this amendment in the name of Senator Higgins, of not staying up until 4 a.m. but of achieving the same result.
I should like to support Senator Higgins's amendment. Like Senator Robinson, I am fascinated by the capacity of the Senators who have spoken in favour of coursing to minimise the total barbarity of this concept, which they support, of using two very fast animals, greyhounds, which are trained exclusively for this particular purpose, to hunt, to tear apart and to kill probably one of the gentlest of God's created animals, inflicting, inevitably and invariably, unnecessary pain on this tiny animal. I know most of the Senators who have spoken here well enough to know that they are kindly and gentle people, who would not go out of their way to harm or to hurt anything or anybody. I am totally astonished at this extraordinary blockage, which quite obviously they have about this acceptance of this barbaric practice of using extremely skilled, fast greyhounds to kill a little animal of this kind. They cannot be unmoved by the fact that, as Senator Robinson has said, the British House of Commons—in which there is such a high percentage of the kind of people who believe in these types of sports— passed an Act ending this kind of thing. They obviously appear to have much more civilised beliefs on this subject of killing little animals, painfully, deliberately and, above all, most shamefully enjoying the spectacle. What kind of human being can indulge in this kind of sport and enjoy it?
A Senator talked about the cat killing the mouse, an animal hunting in the ordinary way and killing painfully in the ordinary way. But these are animals; we are meant to be higher creatures altogether with the capacity to reason, to examine, and to project our own feelings into the experience of other people or other animals. Surely there is no individual here who would get up and try to defend these things: that to be hunted is heavenly, to be hunted is a happy experience, to be hunted is something which is great sport. To be hunted by two animals with this wonderful apparatus of the powerful jaws and the teeth, who, if they catch you, will tear you apart until you are painfully dead— that this could be considered to be a sport by any mature adult human beings defies my comprehension.
As I said, cats follow mice. All right. Do we accept that this is a natural activity on the part of the cat? Do we then put ourselves on the level of cats, of the lion, the leopard and the tiger? Are we no higher than these animals? Have we no capacity to understand pain and suffering in others? Do we necessarily respond to our most primitive instincts: to kill and to enjoy killing?
How can these kinds of attitude be reconciled with any kind of civilised behaviour? The whole movement in the world is against this kind of thing — the imposition by human beings of unnecessary and avoidable pain on one another and particularly on innocent animals who are doing absolutely nothing. It is understandable that the lion that is terrorising the herd of sheep or pigs, or whatever it might be, in Africa or India might create resentment and anger on the part of the people who suffer as a result of the loss of their stock. But the hares are doing nothing to us. They are running away as fast as they can from us; they are trying to avoid any contact with us at all. We have to catch them and then, as somebody suggested, train them to accept that they will be killed painfully and enjoy it and give us sport in watching their horrible death. Surely for us this is a totally shameful pastime—"pastime" and "sport" are the words being used. We in Ireland will be the last outpost of this barbarous sport. We will have all these other half-savages from Britain, denied in their own country the spectacle of watching these little animals being tortured and killed painfully, flooding in here in order to get the enjoyment, the thrill, the excitement, the pleasure denied to them by the civilised decision of the House of Commons to stop them doing these terrible things to little animals.
Frankly, speaking as a psychiatrist, it is worth examining the kind of people who indulge in this masochistic practice. What is wrong with you people that you enjoy this kind of thing? Have you ever wondered about your own emotional makeup that makes you enjoy the sound of an animal screaming to death, being torn to pieces, bleeding to death, being hunted, frightened, running away? Do the Senators ever wonder why they enjoy this kind of grotesque and horrible state? This is the kind of thing that one gets in the more disreputable night spots in Soho—this kind of pleasure. What is wrong with the Senators who enjoy this kind of thing? What happened to them on their way up what they have emotionally become so totally disturbed that they get pleasure from watching tiny animals killed painfully?
One of the Senators suggested that it has been commercialised. Yes, indeed, it has been commercialised. What is worse is that it is going to be further commercialised in order to give the English barbarians the pleasure of joining with the Irish barbarians in the pursuit of this particular pleasure. That, of course, adds to the moneys involved. Clearly, as a race, we will do anything for money. This is one of the dangers that the Minister has to face. What kind of protection has he given in this Bill except the protection of those with a vested interest in seeing that it is expanded and extended as rapidly as they possibly can extend and expand it, irrespective of the consequences to these unfortunate animals?
Evidence has been produced to show that the Irish Coursing Club have not supervised carefully the way in which these animals are, what is so euphemistically and misleadingly called, trained. One has visions of the gladiators entering the arena in ancient Rome who were trained to fight the lions before being torn to death. "Trained." How we can misuse the word. How can a tiny little, five or six inch high, animal, terrified out of its life, become trained in order to prevent two greyhounds trained to catch it and kill it from catching and killing it? Surely it is completely disgraceful that you should attempt to mislead the House, even if you are misleading yourself into believing that you do not know quite well what you are doing in your advocacy of this cruel, horrible, revolting spectacle known as greyhound coursing, racing, or whatever you like to call it.
I just want to reply to Senator N. Browne. The Senator accused us of misleading the House. If there is anybody misleading the House about coursing it is Senator Browne. I should like to make it very clear that nobody in this House gets any pleasure from seeing a hare killed at a coursing meeting. We get pleasure and enjoyment if the hare escapes. Ninety per cent of the hares escape at coursing meetings. In any sport there are bound to be casualties. Very few are taking place now on our coursing fields. Senator Browne seems to think that we will have an invasion from Britain because coursing is prohibited in Britain. As far as I know coursing is not prohibited in Britain yet. It has been passed through the House of Commons but it is not law yet and I do not believe that it will be law in England. I should just like to assure the Senator once again that we get no enjoyment from the killing of hares. Thank God very few hares are killed at coursing meetings today. This is due to the steps taken in recent years by the Irish Coursing Club.
I could not agree with Senator N. Browne. The man has gone a bit hysterical. He is seeing us all as barbarians just because we support coursing. He is being unfair to the Irish Coursing Club. The Senator does not give them due credit for the improvements they have brought about in recent years and the efforts they have made to eliminate cruelty at coursing meetings.
The greyhound industry contributes millions of pounds to this country and the abolition of coursing would eliminate this valuable source of revenue.
During the Second Reading of this Bill it was stated that frequently hares which had been coursed at a meeting were then sold off to another coursing club. I am informed that this is not so, that it is illegal, and that action is taken by the controlling board against any individual, or any club, who might do this. It may have been done in the past, but it is a practice which has been largely eliminated.
A coursing club is paid £5 for each hare which it releases after a coursing meeting. Surely this is a tremendous incentive towards abolishing cruelty and giving the hare a fair chance. Hares are not sold by one club to another. They are let go free. I fail to see the consistency of people who support this amendment. Why do this pressure group not advocate that cruelty to other animals, which is far more widespread and far more cruel, should be eliminated? Why do they not protest against other forms of cruelty? The leading zoologist in this country has assured me that a fish which is caught on a hook, be it a salmon, a mackerel, or any other fish, suffers as much as if it were a human being. Surely this is considerably more cruel than the fate of a hare which dies within seconds of being caught by a greyhound or two?
Which way would the Senator prefer to be killed?
Senator Browne made no reference to any of these forms of cruelty. I am sure Senator Browne eats fish. He probably also eats lobsters and crabs which have to be boiled alive. I cannot imagine any more excruciating form of pain than to be boiled alive, yet we condone this practice. I have never heard an objection to it. Let us be consistent.
Many people go out shooting. I am sure more birds are grievously injured than are actually killed. I am sure there are thousands of birds flying around with a considerable amount of buckshot in their posteriors and suffering grievously. There has been no mention of this from anyone. As Senator William Ryan has pointed out, Senator Browne made a very incorrect statement in saying that coursing followers enjoy the spectacle of seeing the hares killed. This is untrue. They do not enjoy it. They are delighted if the hares escape and go free after the coursing meeting. There is widespread publicity whenever hares are killed at a coursing meeting. This is spotlighted and given large headlines. There was nothing in the newspapers about a coursing meeting held in Donabate two weeks ago when no hare was killed. Surely that should have been commented upon. There is none so blind as him who will not see. They did not want to take note of this.
It is not true to say that coursing has been abolished in Britain. The Bill outlawing coursing was passed in the House of Commons. It was not passed in the House of Lords. I believe the Bill has died and will not be brought forward again. Coursing is continuing in Britain and it looks as if it will continue for many more years. I definitely oppose this amendment.
I also oppose the amendment. People from the rural areas are completely opposed to this amendment. It is marvellous to have a hare in a hunt. Why was the hare created? The hare was created because greyhounds were created. If hares are not hunted and are allowed to stay together in large numbers, they become inbred in a very short time. Everyone knows that an inbred hare is nearly blind and will die in a short time. No pair of dogs will ever kill a good black hare. Inbred hares are good for nothing. Coursing clubs are doing a very good job by releasing hares in different parts of the country at meetings. If hares are properly fed with oats, turnips and cabbage they will not be killed.
As previously stated, there was a coursing meeting recently in Donabate and not one single hare was killed at it. Our greyhound industry is one of our greatest industries and we will not have a greyhound industry unless we have hares. We will not have good greyhounds unless they hunt hares. For these reasons I am totally opposed to the amendment.
It is important to keep a sense of proportion in this debate. It is a debate that can be easily coloured by emotive phrases by Senators who give me the impression that they have never been to a coursing meeting and who got most of their knowledge from articles in magazines written by the anti-coursing fraternity. I am not a member of either the pro-coursing or the anti-coursing lobby. It is many years since I attended a coursing meeting, although I live very close to one of the most famous meetings in the world, the Irish Cup at Clounanna.
As Senators said, it is true that all sportsmen who go to coursing meetings go to see the dogs. It is a contest between the dogs and not between the dogs and the hare. Everybody regrets when a hare is killed. I notice that none of the abolitionists has produced any statistics, but statistics have shown over the years that there has been a steady decline in the number of hares killed, particularly in long coursing, which is now the most usual type of coursing in Ireland.
The greyhound industry is a very valuable one. Every sportsman regrets the killing of any animal, whether it is a fox killed in the hunt, or a hare killed by beagles, or by dogs, but the basic industry is so large and has so many ramifications that any amendment put down without going fully into all the aspects of it should be considered very carefully before it is supported. I see no reason for supporting it. I acknowledge the concern of those who see only the hare being killed or maimed. They should remember that the hare is a necessary ancillary factor in the sport of coursing. The main thing is the dogs. People bet on the dogs and watch them coursing and applaud when a hare escapes.
It is also well to remember that the number of hares killed after a coursing meeting, outside the course itself, by youths or itinerants with guns, is generally far greater than the number of hares killed at a coursing meeting. As has been stated, hares who escape at a coursing meeting are not destroyed. They are resold. All coursing clubs prohibit the shooting of hares within their own confines. It would have been more helpful if somebody had suggested methods by which the rate at which hares are being killed could be decreased. That would have been a constructive proposal, but to try to demolish a valuable industry by one sweeping amendment is something which this House should not countenance.
I want to make a few points perfectly clear. Dr. Shirley Summerskill, when she was speaking on the Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons—I am referring to the Official Report, Volume 893, No. 137, of Friday 13th June, 1975—quoted from a speech by the Leader of the House in which the following was said justifying why her Bill should be taken: "It is always right to spend time trying to get rid of cruelty whether to human beings or to animals. That is what we are doing."
I hope to have time to deal with other forms of cruelty, cruelty to children, and so on, in whatever time I am allowed in public life. This is just cruelty to hares. The point is that in that debate in the House of Commons no one justified this practice. We should be unemotive about this matter. Senators said that statistics were not used correctly. Where are the objective statistics which show that 90 per cent of the hares escape? We know that does not happen.
Anybody who has studied instincts —I have studied instinctual behaviour in human, sub-human and extra-human life—will know there is no necessary connection between the instinct to chase and the instinct to kill. There is no proof whatsoever that the greyhound industry is at risk. There is not one whit of evidence for that. It is inaccurate to say the greyhound industry is at stake. I had hoped this matter would not be controversial and that the different parties would not disagree on it.
An important point was made by Senator Dolan, for whom I have the greatest respect. He is a sensitive teacher in a rural area. There are many ways of encountering life, wildlife in particular. On Second Stage I asked Senators to recall their experience as children of holding an injured bird or animal in their hand. They respected it and wondered at it. It is a terrible reflection on them that as educated adults they find it necessary to go coursing for entertainment.
I did not mislead the House. If amendments Nos. 51, 61, 111 and 112 were accepted there would be an end to this barbaric practice. The facts are there. There will still be greyhounds, but the circumstances of an encounter between a small animal like the hare and those who pursue it will have changed. People can look at hares, photograph them, and admire them, but they will not be able to be present at the spectacle of a hare being torn apart. That is what the amendments are about. As someone who wants to eliminate cruelty in life generally, even on this very minor case of a hare, I could not withdraw those amendments.
(Cavan): I should like to bring this debate down to reality. First of all, I should like to tell the House the exact purpose of the Bill we are now discussing. I can do that best by referring to the Long Title of the Bill. It is:
An Act for the conservation of wildlife (including game) and for that purpose to protect certain wild ceatures and flora, to enable a body to be known as the Wildlife Advisory Council to be established and to define its functions, to enable certain other bodies to be established to provide or administer certain services, to enable reserves and refuges for wildlife to be established and maintained, to enable dealing in and movement of wildlife to be regulated and controlled, to make certain provisions relating to land, inland waters and territorial seas of the State, to amend certain enactments and to make other provisions connected with the foregoing.
The principal objective of this Bill, and all else is subsidiary to it, is to conserve wildlife. Such information as is available to me and my Department does not indicate that there is any danger of the hare species becoming extinct. As a matter of fact, I would think that the last people in Ireland who would like to see the hare becoming extinct are the organisers of coursing matches. If the hare became extinct coursing as it is known now would come to an end. I am not denying that there is an argument for and against this view. There is a coursing lobby and an anti-coursing lobby. I suggest that this Bill is not the appropriate place to deal with what is essentially, if the sponsors of the amendment are correct, cruelty to animals. The legislation dealing with cruelty to animals, the Acts of 1911 and 1965, are under the aegis of other Departments. The Act of 1911, which dealt with cruelty to animals, apparently only dealt with domestic animals. The Act of 1965 extended the provisions of that Act to wild animals.
What we are dealing with in this amendment is the practice of coursing. Coursing is regulated by the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, which was passed by Dáil Éireann and established Bord na gCon, restructured the Irish Coursing Club and consolidated coursing. Senator Browne was a Member of Dáil Éireann in 1958. Without doing some research—and I do not mean to be offensive—I cannot say exactly which party he belonged to, or if he was in any party. I know he will not take that as an offensive remark. The Greyhound Industry Act passed through its final stages in Dáil Éireann on 5th March, 1958. The Official Report shows that Senator Browne was a Member of Dáil Éireann on that date, that the question was put and that the Bill was passed by agreement without one single, solitary, dissenting voice. I am putting that statement on the record of the House so that we may have consistency.
I accept the fact that there is an argument for and against this matter and some people feel emotional about it. I must say I sense a lack of consistency in proposing this amendment to bring an end to coursing on the ground that it is cruel. Senator Browne has obviously overstated his case because he said it is deliberate killing of the hare. Deliberate killing is not involved in coursing. People who organise coursing matches, if they had a choice, would like to see the hare escape. Matters are so arranged that the hare gets a reasonably long slip and has a chance of escaping. It has been said here that 90 per cent of the hares coursed escape. I do not know whether that is too high a percentage. Certainly, all the hares coursed are not killed, and that is an understatement. I would say more hares escape than are killed.
There is no doubt that hares which are killed suffer, but I find it very difficult to understand people picking out this particular form of sport, or this particular form of activity, and seeking to bring it to an end in a Bill which is riddled with activities which inflict some degree of suffering and pain on wildlife. Nobody has raised a voice in this House against the practice of fowling or shooting. We all know that if a pheasant or a duck is shot, it suffers. We also know that if it is maimed and not killed, it suffers an injury to a wing or a leg and escapes into the reeds and lives for a time, it suffers. There is no objection to that practice here. I am not asked to outlaw fowling or shooting of wildfowl. I wonder is it because this is an emotional topic, because the practice of coursing is emotional, that we have this amendment put down which I say is not relevant to the Bill.
The Bill is not introducing coursing. It is not extending coursing. I admit the Bill is preserving the status quo as far as coursing is concerned. It gives me authority, as Minister for Lands, to protect the hare if the hare needs protection in order to preserve the species. I want to emphasise that. That is what the Bill is all about.
It has been said here that coursing has been declared illegal or prohibited in the United Kingdom. The position there is that a Bill to do just that was passed by the House of Commons. It had not been passed by the House of Lords when the session came to an end. I am informed that, that being so, it must now go back to the House of Commons, and be reintroduced there and processed all over again. I am also informed that it did not appear in the Queen's speech referring to legislation to be dealt with during the new session. Therefore, as of now, or in the immediate future, there is no danger of the rush of people from across the water Senator Dr. Browne fears.
I regard this as a Bill to conserve wildlife. It is the first Bill introduced towards that end in over 40 years. It does not deal with cruelty to animals or cruelty to anything else. We have elaborate statutory provisions dealing with coursing. Prior to the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, coursing matches had to get licences from the Irish Coursing Club. I assume that is still the position. If it is still the position, the licences issued by the Irish Coursing Club or Bord na gCon—I think it is the Irish Coursing Club—have the statutory backing of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958. If any change is to be made, it should be made at that level.
Reference has been made to the Bill introduced in the British House of Commons to outlaw coursing. If I may say so, with respect, that is the proper way to deal with it, if it is thought necessary to deal with it. A separate Bill was introduced to deal with it. Here we are asked to use a Bill introduced for one purpose to make a major decision in regard to another practice, and in regard to one of our major industries. I make no apology for preserving the status quo. I am preserving the status quo as far as coursing is concerned. When the day comes when I am advised, or my advisers are advised, that the hare is in danger of extinction, I can declare a close season without exception, or with limited exception, just as I could for pheasants, wild duck, partridge, woodcock, deer, and so on.
I have no regrets for the way in which I spoke about this practice. A few points were raised by other speakers. The question of protesting against the other horrible practices of contemporary Irish society, otter hunting, was raised. It was suggested that I had not protested against it. I spoke at some length, and with equal vehemence, I hope, on the appalling practice of hunting and killing that most delightful and wonderful little creature, the otter, by the completely insensitive and obviously in some way or other emotionally disturbed human beings who organise a pack of hounds in order to hunt this animal to the extent that they finally club it to death. Of course I protested against that. The Minister continues to allow that practice to go on. I have protested against the killing of birds by shooting them and the way that they are killed and maimed and made to suffer. One Senator referred to the boiling of lobsters. I like lobster but I do not eat lobster for the very reason he pointed out, that they are boiled alive.
That is not purely an Irish practice. It is worldwide.
I happen to be dealing with us. I have to live here and I have this tiny bit of responsibility for the way we behave. Somebody seems to get a little satisfaction from the fact that, in our pursuits, in our sense of sport, in our attitude to animals, we are on a par, not with the House of Commons—the ordinary decent people of Britain; some in the Conservative Party, most of them in the Labour Party there—but we are on a par with the House of Lords and we are quite pleased about it. We know well who the House of Lords are.
Before the Senator goes on to make close comparisons I might point out that the Minister is required in another place. It is a matter for the Senator himself whether he wishes to continue speaking in the absence of the Minister.
Unfortunately I happen to be engaged speaking about another minority elsewhere——
It is open to the Senator to continue to make his contribution and for the debate to continue even though the Minister absents himself.
(Cavan): I have no objection at all to the Senator continuing with his contribution and I will have an opportunity of reading it in the Official Report later on.
I am very sorry that we are apparently not ashamed of the fact that we share with the House of Lords these attitudes on cruelty and the hunting of tiny animals with these greyhounds.
The Minister referred to the question of conservation. One of the points mentioned by the anti-coursing lobby which he mentions is that, because coursing has been uncontrolled or not properly controlled by the Irish Coursing Club, there is the real danger that the hare might disappear and that we will not succeed in the conservation of animals. I do not think the Minister can absolve himself from the responsibility to amend laws when the defects in them are brought to his attention by saying that this is something that was passed in 1958, 20 years ago, and that because it was good enough for all of us 20 years ago it is good enough for us now.
One of the wonderful things about experience and growing old is that one learns, and one should learn. This is the depressing conclusion one must come to about so many of the Senators here: we are all products of the same dreadful culture which educated all of us to believe that there was nothing wrong about cruelty to animals, or a particular kind of animal, at any rate. I shared all of these beliefs. For a great part of my life one of the most shaming things in it was the fact that I held these views until I came to have the capacity to reason about these things myself and decided that the evidence I saw, which is available to all the other Senators, is that this is a very cruel sport.
In reply to Senator Russell, of course I have been to a coursing match. It is a very cruel sport. I have seen two hounds tear a hare apart, catch the hare at the same time and simply tear it apart. That has happened. Part of me would prefer the Senator who says that it is just too bad if that happens. I think there is an element of hypocrisy in Senator Russell's suggestion that everybody regrets if the hounds kill the hare, and they would prefer the hare to escape. But who puts the hare at risk? Who catches the hare in order to course him? Who allegedly trains them to run in a straight line or whatever else it is he wants him to do that he would not do anyway, hunted by two hounds trying to kill him? Who organises the coursing matches in which the hare is going to get killed? If there was any sincerity in this protestation that "we would prefer the hare to escape", why put the hare at risk at all? Quite obviously, that is a hypocritical reflection and I would prefer the Senator who says, "This is a great sport. I am going to go on enjoying it and getting pleasure out of watching the deliberate killing of a tiny animal by these highly skilled greyhound racing machines."
Anybody who has been at a coursing match will recall the extraordinary excitement, the completely disturbed excitement, at the end of the competition just to see which hound will catch the hare first and tear it to pieces. First, there is the excitement between the two poor animals who are depraved in this way by being made to take part in this revolting spectacle. What is even more obscene is to listen to the blood lust cries of these dignified elders of our society— Senators amongst them, presumably. The leaders of society, pillars of the Establishment, lose themselves in these wild cries for the blood of the unfortunate tiny little hare. How could anybody attempt to defend this as permissible sport?
One of the shocking things is to hear a teacher talk in this way—the teacher who is responsible for inculcating into little children attitudes and values and standards. If he enjoys this killing, if he enjoys this cruelty, if he enjoys the spectacle of the tiny little animal running for his life from these dreadful animals who are trying to kill it, what is he going to convey to these little children put into his care, except a contempt for love, a disregard for suffering, a disinclination to avoid inflicting pain on the dependent animal, or even on another human being; thus turning out from our schools so many youngsters who basically are wonderful, fine children but corrupted in their values, in their understanding of man's responsibility to something so completely put into his care as is a weak defenceless animal?
The whole process to taking the animal, hunting it and killing it for sport—not even to eat the thing—is its own other dreadful commentary on the primitive remaining in our society and reflected in many other aspects of our lives. How little have we achieved in half a century? How little leadership have we given to the world in any of these finer aspects of human behaviour? We appear to give in to the most primitive lusts and the blood lust is the most primitive of all. This is a shameful neglect on the part of the Minister.
If I believed, as Senator Browne obviously believes, that coursing is purely for the enjoyment of people seeing hares being torn apart, then I would be opposed to coursing. The Senator has a completely mistaken idea of what the sport of coursing is. I make no apologies for calling it a sport. The Senator is quite right when he says there is a certain exclamation when two dogs pass one another and people are concerned with the winning of the chase. The same applies when an artificial hare is involved. The same situation applies when racehorses are involved. People are interested in the speed of the animals involved, and perhaps place a bet on the matter as well.
We should try to understand what is involved. This is part of nature. It would be just as logical to oppose rod and line fishing as to oppose any type of sport that involves the risk of animals losing their life. Those involved in coursing have a greater interest in preserving wildlife and in some cases possess a greater knowledge of it than many of those who decry coursing. They do not tolerate unnecessary suffering where wild animals are concerned. To a great extent the unnecessary suffering of the past has been eliminated. This is due to the influence of people concerned who are ensuring that no unnecessary suffering takes place. If a hare is killed nobody regrets this more than the people involved in this very important greyhound industry.
Those who are involved in rod and line fishing would like to ensure that no fish were killed. Unfortunately this is not so. This is how nature has arranged things. We have to accept facts as we find them at the moment. We are doing less than a service to the people involved in the greyhound industry when we imply that they attend coursing meetings just to see hares killed or torn apart. This is a mistaken idea and one that ought not to be put across in a responsible debate.
I gave my reasons for supporting coursing at an earlier Stage of this Bill. Since Senator N. Browne has classified those opposed to this amendment as barbarians, it is only right that I should comment. Is it a coincidence that it seems to be the same lobby of Senators who oppose coursing also want contraceptives introduced?
There is an intimate connection between the two.
It seems that the Senators who are putting forward this amendment are more worried about the odd hare that is killed than about the whole moral structure of our people. Every care is taken at each coursing meeting to see that no hare is killed if at all possible.
I have never witnessed coursing. There is no coursing carried on in my area. I am neither in favour of coursing nor against it. I object to the hysterical, passionate pleas from some people who I think do not understand nature. I have spent all my life caring for animals. As a young boy I looked for birds' nests and studied their progress. I know what animals suffer in the natural course of events. The otter may be described as a lovely little animal, but in another sense he is a vicious creature which kills other animals.
Years ago I gave up fishing because I did not like taking a hook out of a live fish, but I do not try to stop my neighbours from doing it. On the other hand, I see that the other fish eat the little fish. If some of them were not caught they would probably suffer from some malignant disease that would be much worse than taking them out on the end of a line and hook. We are making an uproar out of nothing. If we hear a passionate speech and the other side of the story is not heard, we can be led to believe that the people who take a certain line are very humane people. I do not accept that. The same humane people would cut to the bone their political opponents if they got the opportunity. They would seize the opportunity to be very cruel to people who have understanding and feelings. Some people a few months ago seemed to enjoy the spectacle of the Americans being chased out of Vietnam. I cannot accept that their concern for animal life is entirely sincere.
I do not like the idea of the two hounds killing the hare at a coursing match. On the other hand I do not want to stop my neighbours from coursing because I have a fair idea how the hare would die anyway. That hare would not die in a nursing home, being tucked in by nurses, injected by doctors to kill the pain. Did anyone ever see a hare dying from liver fluke on a cold hillside in the winter months? This is nature, and nature can be cruel too. I am not particularly concerned with the hare that is killed by the hounds because I have a fair idea of how that hare would be killed otherwise.
I have seen crows caught in traps. I would not set a trap for a crow, but I have seen crows grow old and die around the ditches and being picked up by the fox. It does not make any difference how the crow meets his end. With nature being what it is these creatures do not die what we consider a very happy death.
I pity the people who seem to enjoy for itself the spectacle of the hare being killed more than I pity the hare. I have no doubt that such people exist. If we prevent them from killing hares it will not make them any better, nor will it make the hares any better off. I have seen farmers and people in the country inflict suffering on animals. On the other hand I have seen farmers in the height of the summer season take their machines out of a meadow for fear of killing a few pheasant chickens, and wait for the mother bird to take them away.
Nature is very complicated and diverse. It is far too easy for someone to paint this picture about suffering and cruelty when they do not understand the situation. If there is anything I can do to prevent cruelty in this world, I would do it. If there was no coursing I would not be asking for a law to legalise it or make it possible. However I do not feel we have anything to achieve, but possibly something to lose, by getting rid of it at the moment.
These are my personal views and I would like to see people being more realistic and putting every side of the story properly balanced. I do not think there is anything to be gained by pressurising the Minister to inconvenience a number of people, to put a certain section of our people at a disadvantage and deprive ourselves of what some people consider a sport, and at the same time not to gain anything in return.
I think that it would always be a terrible reflection on this House or on any other legislative assembly if we were afraid to inconvenience people to stop cruelty.
A lot has been said. Senators have spoken from all sides and explained their points of view. There are two points on which I should like to reply. I think the Minister will agree that on the Second Stage of the Bill I paid tribute to the positive sections of the Bill. You cannot have positive sections—for example, the sections on the extension of forests—and at the same time continue to allow this practice. Perhaps that should have been the subject matter of separate legislation, a separate Bill. Another Senator has pointed out that simply by accepting this group of amendments—Nos. 51, 61, 111 and 112—we can do what it took an entire Bill to do in another House. The advantage is that we are disposing of this matter in a much faster and easier way than anything else. This is why it is important this evening.
Other phrases have been used. One Senator said "nature being what it is". Nature can be many things. In my own Second Reading speech I mentioned the symmetry of the universe, the delicate balance which exists between different life systems and so on and the necessity for men, for example, in mindless technological pursuits and indulging in mindless consumerism, to try to have a respect for life in general. That is what nature means to me. Other Senators have said that I should know better because I am from an area where coursing is strong. That is one of the reasons I am insisting on this. I am from that area and so I know what coursing is. In accenting these amendments I think we would be making a beginning towards the elimination of cruelty in society.
I should like to support Senator Higgins. I cannot accept the argument that we must feel inhibited in putting restrictions on certain sporting activities. As someone who comes from the country and has taken part in a number of activities which have been referred to, I think there are limits and that these limits change as society's view of life and of nature changes. For example cock-fighting was at one time legal practice here and it was seen fit to make it illegal. Coursing falls into the same category. One of the great problems is that of the widely reported abuses which occur at coursing meetings. These amendments are designed to try to tighten up coursing regulations. Coursing is a sport which should be abolished altogether like some other sports.
(Cavan): I should like to refer to one or two matters that have been raised by Senator Higgins. The Senator came to the heart of the matter when he said that, without any lengthy Bill and by half-an-hour's discussion here this evening on an amendment to another section, we could do away with coursing once and for all. That would be a bad day for democracy if we were to deal with a major issue like coursing with what I might call a side-kick like this.
This is a Bill dealing with conservation. Coursing has been here for a long time. There are arguments for and against it, but I certainly do not think it should be brought to an end in the casual way that has been suggested by Senator Higgins, without a proper debate, without due notice that the proposal was coming before the Oireachtas to abolish coursing in toto. When the day comes that coursing is to be abolished and there is a sufficient majority in Parliament or a sufficient consensus to do it then it should be abolished by the introduction of a Bill for that purpose.
Senator West referred to cock-fighting. He said that it was legal at one time. I did not know that it was ever legal, although I knew it had been practised for a long time. If cock-fighting were regulated by law the cruelty might be minimised. The other battles on the Border probably have reduced the number of cock-fights that we had in that area, but until recently there were a number of cock-fights all over the country each year.
In the course of my research about Senator N. Browne I discovered that in 1958 he launched an all-out war on rats. He had a question down in the Dáil asking for a more energetic attack on rats with a view to exterminating that dangerous tribe. He did not include in his question that any precaution should be taken to ensure that they had a painless death or that they were chloroformed.
Coursing has nothing to do with public health.
(Cavan): It could be said that coursing has something to do with the economy. I would seriously suggest to the Senator——
There are humane ways of killing animals.
(Cavan): The Senator did not put this proviso into his question about the rats. I would say in all seriousness to the Seanad that this is not the Bill and now is not the time to deal with coursing. To deal with coursing in a few amendments in a Bill with 72 sections covering a variety of things, fauna, flora and so on, would be most inappropriate and most undemocratic. I suggest that the amendments be withdrawn and that this major matter— some people would call it a major industry, others a major problem—should be dealt with at another time.
I am in agreement with the Minister in this respect. We should all be sensible and realise, as Senator Deasy has said, that the coursing industry is very important to the economy. It brings in almost £9 million at present. In the economic climate in which we live that is nothing to be sneezed at. Bord na gCon was set up in 1958. It had certain controls over coursing since its establishment—I am happy to say that its first chairman was a County Cavan man, the late Dr. Paddy Maguire—and it has standards which have been improved as certain things were brought to its notice. We must be sensible about these things.
I am often amazed at how eloquent Senator Browne and others can wax about various brands of cruelty. One would think to listen to them that they had cures for all these ills and that they would never inflict suffering on any animal or human being. Yet, as we know through their speeches and often through their actions, they have been very cruel indeed. Although we do not know their habits, I would respectfully suggest that some of them may have swallowed live oysters in their time. Some of them may have been fishing in our lakes and taken out fish and thrown them back again. Indeed some of these Englishmen to whom Senator Higgins has referred have come over to this country and caught fish with hooks, have taken them out, taken a look at them and thrown them back into the river or lake so that they undergo the same cruelty and hardship when the next band of fishermen come along.
As I said at the beginning, we cannot legislate here to prevent the ordinary chain that has been set up since the world was created. While people may wax eloquent about cruelty, at the same time they eat meat, they may wear fur coats and lizard skin shoes. You may be sure that in one way or another they are indirectly— if not directly—contributing towards death and cruelty because that is what all life seems to be about. While I am not from a coursing country, I know people who have greyhounds and they have not yet succeeded in breeding greyhounds without teeth or greyhounds who will not injure hares. In the ordinary coursing events I have been convinced—and my conviction has been strengthened by what I have heard here from people who come from counties in which coursing is practised as a sport and as an industry and a safety valve for relaxation— that there is no great pleasure taken from the death of a hare by those attending the event. There are ample and various escapes for the hare. If some of them get killed, we know, as Senator McCartin has said, that that would happen eventually anyway. If we search through nature and in our own country for various examples of cruelty it is something that is very difficult to define. There may be many shades of it both in the physical sense and other senses of it. In the course of our lives we may do something with which some people may agree, but there will be others who would feel that we are very cruel to them.
Senator Browne referred to teachers speaking in this debate. I, certainly, do not try to inculcate cruelty into pupils under my care. I never did. At the same time I am not so foolish as not to realise that young children have some idea of the facts of life and have some idea of what life and death mean. Many of them have experienced it in their own families and they often go to the butcher to buy meat, and surely they ask questions as to where it comes from. All these things are relevant. We need not think that we are going to get through life by being mute about these things. We are not going to rear some generation of children who will pass through the schoolroom and who will think that no animals are ever slaughtered or that there is no cruelty of any kind in this world.
I oppose this amendment, firstly, for the reason the Minister has just given. The greyhound industry is very important to the country. While I am not pro-coursing, I visited such an event many years ago, and the people who were agitating for the abolition of coursing may be doing so for very good reasons. I have been given very good reasons from time to time and the Minister should later on in the Bill make provision for bringing in regulations to deal with coursing where it has been degraded. I have only once attended a park coursing meeting and that was about 50 years ago and at that I was disgusted. But I have attended open coursing for several years and I have seen very few hares killed in that sport. In the park coursing people left themselves open to criticism for the cruel way in which animals were dealt with, particularly being kept in confinement for many weeks and maybe months in some cases before they were released, after having gone from place to place, and probably not fit for coursing anyway. In the natural habitat I have not seen the same cruelty. Perhaps it will be said that even if it is only one hare it is cruel. We must realise that it is a sport and many of the people who participate are not, in my opinion, barbaric. I am not a psychiatrist and therefore I would not know the background of the reasons why we kill. If we stop coursing we can logically go on to stop the killing of anything at all, even for the purposes of eating and living. I would not be in favour of this amendment at this stage. Later on in the Bill we will have an opportunity of giving the Minister an opportunity of bringing in regulations to ensure that the cruelty that has prevailed in coursing—and from those who are against coursing I gather there has been an improvement—will be stopped. I am neither for it nor against it. I am just looking at it as realistically as I can, and at this stage it would be unrealistic to ban coursing.
On a point of information, to the best of my knowledge, cock fighting was made illegal in the last century by an Act of the British Parliament which applies here. I hope that I do not take it from the Minister's reply that he intends to bring in a Bill legalising it because this would be a very retrograde step. I just wanted to make sure that I am not taking it up wrongly. There is a point which Senator Kerrigan made that needs to be amplified. I would agree with him. There is a considerable difference between the open and the closed coursing, and the abuses which I referred to are abuses that take place in the enclosed coursing and that is the particular sport to which I strenuously object.
I take great pleasure in opposing this amendment. The opponents to this amendment have been depicted as bloodthirsty psychopaths. I do not know if these are the exact words, but I do not consider myself to be in that category. I have never attended a coursing match in my life, nor have I ever wilfully killed a fly. Yet I oppose this amendment because the proposers have over-dramatised, overstressed their case. The case made this evening sounded ludicrous and hypocritical. There are other forms of life, both human and animal, which I would commend to the humanity and kindness of the proposers of the amendment who seem to be overflowing with the milk of animal rather than human kindness.
I want to correct an impression given that, first of all we have not had an opportunity of considering the seriousness of the amendments. When this Bill was debated on Second Stage I indicated that I would be putting down these amendments and it is not true to say that they were put down quickly and casually. They were put down deliberately and carefully, and in my speech on the Second Stage I said I would be putting down precisely such amendments. Neither is it true to say that we have had only a half an hour to discuss the impact of the amendments. We spent quite a long time on them. Quite obviously, few people are going to support my viewpoints. I would prefer if we took the points now. I wish to correct one other point. Senators have suggested that it is the same lobby which is involved in this as are involved in——
Every sort of immorality.
The other legislation with which I was associated is legislation that draws a distinction between Church and State. I intend to proceed with that legislation for a long time to come. We have had a fine debate in the House and we have discussed these amendments sufficiently. We should just make up our minds about them one way or the other.
From my experience of coursing—and I have attended quite a number of coursing meetings in my lifetime—hares in general are well treated. I do not believe that people go to coursing meetings to see hares killed. We all regret the killing of a hare. I can state with knowledge how hares are treated in Clounanna. For over two months of the season they are put into an enclosure and get the very best feeding. Anyone who has attended meetings there will have seen the strict conditions imposed before the dogs are released. If the stewards are not satisfied with the standards, the dogs are not released and this is signalled by a flag to the slipper. I have heard it said that this is a cause of cruelty to the dogs and not to the hare. A dog who has reached the finals has run on that course for 500 yards six times in three days. That is described as cruel by many people.
If hares are not hunted and if a small percentage of hares are not killed, what happens? Most of us here come from the rural areas. We have seen what had dropped. As a result the rabbits rabbit population and there was no mention of that here today. The number of people who used hunt rabbits had dropped. As a result the rabbits became so numerous that to save their crops the farming community were forced to import a disease which was transmitted by injection. Thousands of rabbits lay dying on the roadsides and in the fields. Their heads became swollen, they lost their sight and thousands of them died. By injecting one rabbit and placing him in a burrow the whole area was affected by myxomatosis. This resulted in the almost total destruction of the rabbit. That was extremely cruel and yet I heard very little objection to it. The same thing would have to happen to the hares if a number of them were not killed. Without coursing, hares would multiply rapidly and the farmers would be forced into action in an endeavour to protect their crops. One Senator mentioned that a number of hares die from fluke in a wet year. That is true. Were it not for coursing clubs thousands of hares would die because they would not be as well fed as they are at the moment.
Bord na gCon and ICC have gone a long way towards protecting the hare. Up to about eight years ago hares were often coursed at one small meeting to ensure that they would be put up before the dogs three times in a day. A week afterwards that hare would be sold to another coursing club for other meetings and would be put to the dogs perhaps another three times. Thanks to the ICC and Bord na gCon that has stopped. The hares are being cared for. As one Senator said, we never expect hares to die in a nursing home, but I am quite satisfied that the maximum care is taken to avoid as much cruelty as possible. Some people love to see something being killed. They love to hear of people taking poison or being shot. They are fanatics. But the vast majority of the sporting public do not go to a coursing meeting to see a hare killed.
I just want to answer a couple of points. One is about the sporting industry being very important. I know it is. It would be a great hardship indeed if greyhound racing in our cities and larger towns was discontinued, but it is possible to use an electric hare in ordinary greyhound racing, which is a totally painless experience but giving all the excitement of a race between competing dogs. But there is no element of pain, and nobody referred to that at all. It would surprise me to hear that the British, if they abolished greyhound racing and coursing, anticipated without some measure of apprehension the disappearance of all their greyhound tracks in the cities and towns of Britain. That was not being suggested.
Having been a little bit unkind to my Senator colleagues, I have to remind them that they have a kind streak somewhere within them, because if they go back to the legislation they will find that Senator Dolan, for whom I have great admiration, reminded us that there is great cruelty in the world, that this chain of cruelty is there and there is not an awful lot we can do about it. I dealt with this by saying that what is done in nature by animals should be different from the behaviour of human beings.
I acknowledge that there is great cruelty, that hares die from fluke and so on, but these are all the accidents of nature. What I am talking about is a deliberate act by human beings in hunting and killing these animals, but that is not really my point. My point arises out of, say, the eating of meat, which many people feel they should do, and the killing of animals, which is the obvious corollary to that. When I say they have a kind streak I mean that if they want a bullock killed for steaks and other beef products or if they want a sheep killed, the Oireachtas has been particular as to how they are killed.
There are the most stringent precautions because of the sense of kindness and decency and the anxiety not to hurt. So we surround the butchery trade with the most rigid precautions in order that the animals will not suffer. If they disobey these rules laid down by the Government they are prosecuted and brought before the courts. Nobody suggests that we should change the system and introduce one whereby a bullock from which we wanted a steak should be brought out into a large field and large-sized bloodhounds should be sent after it and hunt it until it was killed and then we could eat it. The same goes for sheep, lambs and pigs. We would think this was being very cruel to a helpless animal. It could give wonderful sport. The Spaniards do it to a certain extent in their appalling bull-fighting exhibitions to which there is worldwide revulsion. We hope eventually to see the end of that barbaric sport. We are not the only barbarians.
This is an important consideration when we are talking about this chain of cruelty in the world, natural cruelty. We do not treat any of the animals we eat like this, because it would be a very cruel thing to do— to put an animal out and hunt it with large bulldogs trained for this job. But we think there is nothing wrong at all with taking an eight or nine inches high animal and putting it into a virtual enclosure and setting these highly skilled, highly trained, fast animals on it to tear it apart painfully as a sporting spectacle for our enjoyment and pleasure.
Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 5.
- Barrett, Jack.
- Blennerhassett, John.
- Brennan, John J.
- Browne, Patrick (Fad).
- Burton, Philip.
- Codd, Patrick.
- Cowen, Bernard.
- Daly, Jack.
- Deasy, Austin.
- Dolan, Seamus.
- Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí
- Garrett, Jack.
- Hanafin, Des.
- Keegan, Seán.
- Kerrigan, Patrick.
- Kilbride, Thomas.
- McAuliffe, Timothy.
- McCartin, John Joseph.
- Mannion, John M.
- Markey, Bernard.
- O'Brien, William.
- O'Higgins, Michael J.
- O'Toole, Patrick.
- Owens, Evelyn.
- Quinlan, Patrick Michael.
- Russell, George Edward.
- Ryan, William.
- Sanfey, James W.
- Walsh, Mary.
- Whyte, Liam.
- Browne, Noel C.
- Higgins, Michael D.
- Robinson, Mary.
- West, Timothy Trevor.
- Yeats, Michael B.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Sanfey and Kerrigan; Níl, Senators Higgins and West.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Government amendment No. 52:
In page 21, subsection (7), between lines 45 and 46, to insert the following new paragraph before paragraph (ii):
"(ii) the hunting of hares by means of a pack of beagles or harriers both during a period specified as regards hares in a hares order and in a place to which the order applies,".
(Cavan): The new paragraph proposed is necessary in order to exempt the sports of beagling and harrying in pursuit of a hare during the open season for hares. These are long-established field sports which seldom result in the killing of a hare.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 53:
In page 21, subsection (7), line 52, after "instrument" to insert "or anything caused by or which results from, or is consequent upon or the effect of any other act or thing which is lawfully done".
(Cavan): This final amendment to section 23 is intended to exempt the unavoidable killing of a protected wild animal. A similar amendment in respect of protected wild birds has been made in section 22. It deals with killing by motor car or accidental killing of an animal.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 23, as amended, agreed to.
Government amendment No. 54:
In page 22, subsection (2), line 30, to insert "individuals in" after "killed by".
Amendments Nos. 54 and 57 are cognate and should be debated together.
(Cavan): Sections 24 (2) and 25 (2) intend, among other things, to provide for the imposition of bag limits in the interests of conserving game birds and game animal stocks. However, it has been represented to me that the subsection, as drafted, would make its practical operation in the matter of bag limits very difficult. The proposed amendments would improve this situation by applying the limit to the number of game birds and game animals which may be taken by an individual shooter rather than to the overall number which may be shot in a particular open season.
It is a very sensible amendment. It is much the same kind of thing as operated by the Inland Fisheries Trust in regard to operated fishing on a number of lakes.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 24, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment No. 55:
In subsection (1), line 34, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".
My personal view on this is that it is not necessary because I think I am right in saying that we are constantly being told by Ministers that there is no difference between "may" and "shall". Senator McGlinchey wishes to ensure that the Minister will make such orders as provided in this section and I gather the purpose of the amendment is to ensure that he shall. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say because my memory certainly is that Ministers always tend to tell us that, according to the parliamentary draftsman, "shall" is the same as "may". It never made sense to me but it looks as if the Minister is going to give us a different story.
(Cavan): I would not profess to propose that “shall” is the same as “may”. “May” is put in here to make it flexible because it is desirable that it should be flexible. The power in section 25—and, incidentally, the corresponding power in section 24—is an enabling one and flexibility in its operation is essential. While the intention is that ordinarily open seasons for the hunting of game species will continue to be declared as heretofore, full account will have to be taken of the circumstances surrounding each species. It may be that from time to time these would be such as would not warrant the declaration of an open season for a period in some particular case. For that reason the provision for the mandatory making of an order, as envisaged in the proposed amendment, would be too inflexible.
In other words, I am saying that ordinarily there will be an open season. I am also saying that there could be circumstances in respect of certain game species when it would not be desirable to have an open season in the interest of conservation. For that reason, the onus will be on the Minister to decide whether or not there should be an open season.
This section gives the Minister power to do what he has claimed in his closing remarks, namely, the power to have no open season at all except that provided for in section 27 under certain emergencies. Perhaps it is not section 27. It may be some other one.
I understand that the interpretation put on "may" and "shall" by parliamentary draftsmen is that there is not much difference between the two. But the feeling is that if "may" remains in this section it is not mandatory for the Minister to do this, whereas "shall" is mandatory. There is a fear that one day there may be a Minister for Lands who will not share the present Minister's views on game and wildlife in general. For example, if Senator Higgins was Minister for Lands he might not exercise the power provided under section 25 and would be protected by the word "may", whereas if "shall" is used he would be obliged to do so. This is the fear expressed by those people interested in this section.
Even if Senator McGlinchey's amendment is accepted it could not possibly achieve an open season of reasonable duration every year. If we read section 24 and section 25, the Minister could, if he was compelled by insertion of the word "shall", declare an open season for one day and one day only. Therefore the whole section would need to be re-cast to achieve it. I would have thought that the approach to this might have been rather different and that there might have been a case made to provide that the Minister shall in each year provide for close season rather than for an open season, if you are thinking of this in terms of conservation.
(Cavan): I should like to impress on the Seanad that the object of this Bill is to give the Minister sufficient and adequate powers to conserve the species and to ensure that they do not become extinct. If there were an obligation on the Minister to declare an open season or a hunting season each year in respect of any particular species, then a situation might arise where the species would become extinct. It is for that purpose that discretion must be given to the Minister to decide whether or not he should permit shooting of wild fowl or hunting or shooting of deer, hares or any other wild animal.
As Senator O'Higgins has pointed out, even if Senator McGlinchey's amendment is accepted at its face value, if the Minister wanted to be as unreasonable as Senator McGlinchey fears he might be, he would then only have to make an order declaring a minimal period, and that would become ridiculous.
I emphasise again that this is fundamental to the conservation objectives contained in this Bill. Various Ministers have declared close seasons all the year around in respect of certain birds. That has been the practice. Indeed, there is a close season all the time in respect of hen pheasants.
Senator McGlinchey also says that section 27 would give the Minister the necessary powers to protect any species in danger of becoming extinct. Section 27 is an emergency section to deal with an emergency situation. It gives powers to suspend an open season if the weather was so severe that birds or animals would become helpless and defenceless and would be slaughtered wholesale. That was the idea behind section 27. I am extending section 27 by way of an amendment to cover cases other than severe weather, such as disease and so on.
If the Senator considers section 25 again I think he will agree with me that it is properly drafted. To delete "may" and substitute "shall" would render it dangerous and would allow for a Minister to make an ineffective order in certain cases, to make an order of only a few days. It is necessary to deal with birds and animals which are becoming extinct. There is nothing new in it. I just cannot point at the moment to the Game Preservation Act, 1930, but it obviously contains a similar provision because otherwise it would not be possible to permit the shooting of cock pheasants and to prohibit the shooting of hen pheasants.
I take it therefore that the chances of Senator Higgins or Senator Browne becoming Minister for Lands are very remote?
(Cavan): That is a matter for the Taoiseach.
The Minister interprets "may" in the way which would occur to one as being in accordance with the usual tenets of the English language. The next time some colleague of his tells me—in fact, I have been told this often in the past—that "may" and "shall" are equivalent—in parliamentary terms I will be happy to refer them to the present Minister for Lands.
With regard to the intention behind this section, one can quite see what the Minister intends and I do not think there will be any disagreement about this. Would the Minister consider the possibility of accepting an amendment on Report Stage which would perhaps more clearly reflect his intention? One could, for example, say that the Minister shall make an order to provide in this section except in such cases that he was satisfied that an order ought not be made for reasons of conservation, or some phraseology like that, which would make it clear that an order was to be made.
Is it not shorter to use the word "may"?
Possibly, but there does appear to be a worry that some Minister, at some future date, might interpret this to mean that he did not have to do it at all, which is clearly not what the Minister intends. It seems there is something to be said for putting in some such word as "shall" and a proviso that where some form of wildlife needs to be preserved conservation will be involved and the order will not be made. Perhaps one might be able to come up with something between now and Report Stage.
(Cavan): I am satisfied that sections 25 and 27 combine all the situations that may arise. I will consider any amendment put down on Report Stage. I am obliged to do that. I do not want to give Senator Yeats any hope that I would change section 25 as it stands. I think it is adequate. It is reasonable and necessary to have it drafted in that way in order to give the Minister for Lands sufficient discretion to exercise the powers conferred on him under the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 56:
In page 22, subsection (2), line 41, to insert "different areas and" after "in relation to".
(Cavan): This amendment is introduced for consistency in the provisions of section 24 (2).
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 57:
In page 22, subsection (2), line 44, to insert "individuals in" after "killed by".
Amendment agreed to.
Section 25, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment No. 58:
Before section 26 to insert a new section as follows:—
"(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other enactment the Minister shall have power to make regulations governing every coursing match held by any coursing clubs affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club.
(2) A record of the number of hares killed during a coursing match held by any coursing club affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club or during captivity for the purposes of such a match shall be given to the Minister by the club concerned within 14 days of such a match.
(3) The Minister may direct that the proceedings of any coursing match held by a coursing club affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club may be photographed, filmed, televised or in any other way recorded."
We have had a debate on coursing. It is clear that there is a strong majority in favour of retaining the sport. I do not agree with that decision, but I accept it as the democratic decision. I realise that coursing will not be abolished. The reason I supported Senator Higgins's amendment, No. 51, was that I felt that at the moment there are frequent and widely reported abuses in coursing meetings. If the sport continues as it has been carried on over the last number of years then it is an entirely unsuitable sport which involves unnecessary cruelty to hares. The House feels that this is not a reason for abolishing the sport altogether.
I hope that I will receive some support when I put forward the view that, if coursing is to remain, some stricter controls should be exercised. Those controls would have two main objects: first to prevent unnecessary cruelty and, secondly, to protect our rapidly dwindling stock of hares. This is a very serious situation which is commonly referred to in the sporting media. In many parts of the country where coursing is extensively carried on the stock of hares has dwindled practically to vanishing point.
The proposals I make on this amendment are really proposals which, first, give the Minister power to make regulations concerning coursing matches; secondly, to ensure that a record of the number of hares killed at each coursing match is kept, is furnished to the Minister and is therefore available to the public, and, thirdly, that a televised, filmed or photographed record of each coursing meeting may be made on the direction of the Minister. These seem to be perfectly reasonable proposals. They do not in any way cut across the sport of coursing. I hope the Minister will see fit to accept them. This Bill deals with conservation. These proposals are aimed precisely in this direction.
I should like to refer to the many reports I have to hand of abuses at park coursing meetings. There is a distinction, which has been outlined by Senator Kerrigan, between enclosed and open coursing. I do not have these objections where open coursing is concerned. My remarks refer to enclosed coursing meetings.
I wish to quote from sections of the press to illustrate the abuses I refer to. The first quotation is from The Kerryman of 19th January, 1973. It is from the Tony Meade column, and he says he is not in the cruelty to animals lobby. It is a good illustration of the point I am making:
In this column last week I mentioned the coursing at Ballybeggan Park over the Christmas and the number of hares which died. There has been quite a response to it both from members of the general public and from coursing fans and where there was criticism it was mild. In other words, there is a general admission that the slaughter of hares is getting out of hand. Then I had a phone call from a friend in Valentia telling me of the coursing meeting there on Sunday —30 hares died. A woman who saw the hares being driven from the escape pen to the start made a plea for one hare who was obviously injured and the official in charge of the drive removed the injured animal. Some spectators did not take this too kindly and the woman in question was struck in the face with a handful of mud.
That people who run coursing would not stand over this kind of behaviour goes without saying. That 30 hares should die before the hounds can give pleasure to no one, least of all to the real coursing fan. But the slaughter goes on and now it is not merely the cruelty to animals lobby which is involved. Others—and I would place myself among them—regard the high death rate among hares as a reflection on the meetings and on the competence of those who are in charge of the meetings. What is the total death rate among the hare population of Kerry this coursing season? How long does any reasonable person think it can continue unless the clubs clean it up a bit by reducing this appalling toll. Why do some clubs run perfectly reasonable meetings at which the death rate is not above a handful and when hares are in a good condition for the tussle.
I have another couple of quotations I would like to make to illustrate the shortage of hares in various parts of the country. From the Connacht Telegraph, 6th December, 1973:
Westport coursing meeting, which was to have been held last Sunday, was postponed indefinitely when sufficient hares could not be found. This year's meeting was plagued with troubles, hares having escaped from the compound on two occasions. The first time the hares were deliberately freed, and it is understood they escaped on the second occasion.
A quotation from The Sporting Press 22nd November, 1973:
The National Open Cup sporting meeting, which was to take place at Newbridge this weekend has been postponed. At a committee meeting this week it was agreed that because of a scarcity of hares it would be inadvisable to attempt to run a meeting. The matter will be reviewed in the new year and a new date will be applied for then.
A quotation from The Nationalist, Clonmel, August 31st, 1973:
There was a remarkable decrease in the number of hares in West Tipperary. At one time it was the haven of animals like hares, foxes and rabbits. However the latter are very numerous.
One can read reports of this sort in the press regularly. One of the problems which the amendment here is designed to overcome is the fact that we have not any definite records. I have a list. Admittedly it is compiled by some members of the Irish Council Against Blood Sport. They have a particular point of view and so this list must be read with this point of view in mind. They have a list of hares killed in the season 1973-74. At Saggart, County Dublin on 14th, 20th, 21st and 22nd October, 1973, 44 hares were killed; at Mallow, County Cork, 20th October, 1973, 25 hares were killed; at Roscrea, County Tipperary, 3rd November, 1973, 22 hares were killed; at New Inn, County Tipperary, on 10th and 11th November, 1973, 26 hares were killed; at Castleisland, County Kerry, on 10th and 11th November, 1973, 14 hares were killed; at Mitchelstown, County Cork, on 11th November, 1973, 15 hares were killed; at Listowel, County Kerry, on 17th and 18th November, 1973, 46 hares were killed; and the list goes on. For the purpose of this debate, and for the purpose of proper public debate, and for proper evaluation by the public and the Members of the Oireachtas, we should have an official record. Subsection (2) of the proposed new section is designed to ensure that there is a proper public record so that the speculation can end and so that the public will know what they are doing and the people who have to make decisions on matters of this nature will know what they are doing in any discussion of this nature. It is a perfectly reasonable proposal that the records should be kept.
The Seanad has decided to retain coursing. As I said, I accept this decision, whatever my own personal feelings are. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that, if coursing is to be retained in its present form, some stricter regulations should be put on the clubs affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club so that the abuses which take place, and which are recorded so frequently that one cannot ignore them, will diminish.
A sport like coursing—it is not the only one—is a sport in which cruelty is involved. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure by legal means, by legal restrictions, that unnecessary cruelty is kept to a minimum. Everybody should agree with these sentiments. The proposals here are very mild ones: First, to give the Minister power to make regulations governing each coursing match; secondly, to have an official record of the number of hares; and thirdly, to ensure, by direction of the Minister in any situation in which he feels it necessary, that a record of a coursing meeting by means of photograph, or television, or film, may be made. I hope the Minister will see his way to accepting these proposals in some form or other.
I want to refer again to something mentioned on many occasions this evening, that is, the matter of cruelty. As I said on a previous occasion, there seem to be many degrees of cruelty. Senator Higgins quoted what took place in the British Parliament and their standards and their evaluation of cruelty to animals. I remember a time when they were making great propaganda about cruelty to horses and had very little interest in cruelty to human beings. Many of these people who speak so glibly about cruelty, and how it is exaggerated and so on, forget that there are many people in our society who have scant respect for the conditions in which people are employed, or the conditions in which children often find themselves, and the conditions in which certain people have to rear families. That is a type of cruelty and it should take precedence over this trash we are listening to on this Bill.
I want to find out from the Minister, who happens to be from my own constituency, if in section 26 any curb is being put on a certain type of hunting that takes place in our constituency. We have not the glamour of horses, or coursing either, but hares are hunted in a different way, by beagles. Our dogs are not as fast as Kerry greyhounds and they do not kill as many hares. I do not accept the figures of the deaths of hares as the be-all and end-all of what is happening. It often puzzles me where these correspondents get their figures, how well versed they are in the various processes of cruelty, and how on a few occasions they can actually have a photograph of a hare being torn asunder by two dogs. They very seldom present a photograph of the happy expression on the hare's face when she gets through the escape left for her.
I would not like to see anything in this Bill which would curb in any way the humane activities people in my constituency engage in when they follow beagles on foot. Sometimes they hunt hares. It is provided in this section that a licence might be needed to hunt otters or course hares. I would not like to see any such licence being introduced in relation to the traditional sport which has existed in our area for a long time. As I said, we have not the glamour of going on horseback. We are not John Peels. Even in Goldsmith's day hares were hunted and they were often glad to get back to the place from whence they flew. We would not like to see this sport eradicated. The coursing club and Bord na gCon have been doing their utmost to ensure that these elements of cruelty are lessened in each succeeding year.
It has been said that a certain number of hares have been killed. Perhaps that is because more coursing meetings have taken place. I would like an answer from the Minister, who I am sure, is interested in this matter. I would not like people living in rural Ireland, who follow hares with humble beagles which seldom catch up with the hares, being deprived from taking part in that innocent sport.
I support Senator West's amendments. If the Minister cannot accept them in their entirety I would ask him to examine them with a view to incorporating in the Bill something on this line. I have already voted to retain coursing. It is in the interest of the people who run coursing clubs, and the Oireachtas, to ensure that some monitoring of the situation is at all times possible. We have seen unbalanced programmes. It depends on who is shooting the film. It is in our interest as well as that of the clubs to ensure that all meetings are held with the intention, at least, of trying to prevent as much killing of hares as possible and, at the same time, not having slanted views presented to the public and building up an anti-coursing lobby. We should incorporate some of the amendments Senator West has proposed.
On the whole, even though I was one of the few who went into the anti-coursing lobby a few minutes ago, I am inclined not to support this amendment mainly because, to my mind, if, as I hope he will, the Minister accepts amendment No. 65 in my name, the matter could be dealt with in a simpler and more practical way. I will not anticipate the discussion which will take place on amendment No. 65, but it would enable the Minister to prevent the infliction of unnecessary and undue suffering on any animal. The difficulty with amendment No. 58 is that there is a certain "big brother" aspect to it which one does not like.
Even though one may oppose the principle of coursing, it is not necessary at the same time to assume that the the Irish Coursing Club are in any way dishonest or unreasonable in their attitude. I am quite certain they are anxious to see that no undue suffering is imposed on any animal. They want to run their business in a reasonable way. Therefore it would be wrong in a Bill of this kind to give the Minister power to have photographs taken and send out spies and so on. He should lay down conditions, as suggested in my forthcoming amendment No. 65, but detailed regulation of the activities of a private organisation like the Irish Coursing Club is unnecessary and suggests— although it may not be meant that way but the wording would appear to suggest—that in some way the Irish Coursing Club and affiliated coursing clubs are not sincere and genuine in their efforts to avoid cruelty. Unfortunately sometimes they are unsuccessful. They do their best and for that reason I would not be inclined to support an amendment framed in this manner.
I am totally opposed to giving a Minister or a Government the power asked by Senator West to make these regulations. The people best qualified to deal with this matter are the members of the Irish Coursing Club. They are doing a very good job. If we were to have Government interference in what they are doing, the sport would be killed.
I am inclined to agree with the second part of the amendment which provides that a record of the number of hares killed during a coursing match which should be given to the Minister within 14 days. If that were the case, what Senator West has said here and has read from newspapers would be proved wrong. He said that in Castleisland 14 hares were killed. Out of 140 hares there, 14 were killed. A newspaper quoted a number of hares killed at a coursing meeting in Kerry and said more hares were killed than the number of hares at the meeting. This proves that one should not pay too much heed to what is said in the press, especially when it is said by people who are totally opposed to coursing.
Last year the Irish Coursing Club withdrew the licence from one coursing club because they felt they were not carrying out their instructions. The ICC have a steward at every coursing meeting who sees that things are carried out properly and makes a report to his headquarters. If headquarters are not satisfied with what has been reported, they need not give that coursing club a licence for the following year.
It has been said that hares are very scarce in West Tipperary. I come from West Tipperary and I agree they are scarce, but West Tipperary is a big area and there is no coursing club there. I believe that is why hares are scarce there. They are not being protected. Coursing clubs protect hares When there is no coursing club in an area, anybody can come in and shoot hares, net hares, snare hares, or do what they like. That is why hares are scarce in West Tipperary.
It was stated that open coursing meetings had to be postponed on a few occasions last year in Newbridge because they had not sufficient hares. I understand the reason for that. The hares were killed by dogs owned by itinerants. Wherever there is a good coursing club, there will be plenty of hares and they need not worry about a hare shortage.
We have seen films of hares being killed at coursing meetings but if one hare is killed that is the only part of the film shown. As Senator Dolan said, you will not see anything about the one which got away. It would be very wrong to insist that photographers should be present at coursing meetings. Indeed, I would not care to be a photographer, because if he goes down the country he might come back himself but his camera might not.
(Cavan): I do not want to be drawn into a discussion on whether cruelty is practised at coursing matches. As I have said, I do not believe this Bill is the proper measure to deal with that sort of thing. However, lest it might be taken that I accept that people who are engaged in coursing, people who organise matches, people who own greyhounds and course them, people who go to coursing matches, are all cruel people and engage in this sport for the cruelty that is in it, I want to say fairly and squarely, I do not believe any such thing. I say that, not as one who is an habitual courser. I have been at Clounanna and Clonmel and lesser coursing matches from time to time, but not for some years.
Well organised coursing matches are organised in such a way that the hare gets a fair run. As somebody said earlier, the dogs will not be slipped if the hare is obviously weak or if she does not run properly. Part of the procedure is that the slipper gives the dogs a fairly long slip; in other words, gives the hare a good start. As I said, it is some years since I have been at a coursing match, but I want to say people who go there do not applaud the cruelty or the pain. My recollection is that there was always a cheer when the hare escaped and I never heard a cheer when the hare was killed. I recollect also, that when the hare was caught, a dash was made to kill her and put her out of pain if she could be rescued from the dogs.
On the other hand, as Senator Ryan said, photographs have been taken of hares being pulled asunder. I suppose that is part of the build-up by the anti-coursing lobby. Those who have attended coursing matches have often seen the dog which was coursed, and which took umpteen turns out of the hare, lying there panting with his tongue out after the hare escaped. The dog can be completely exhausted but we do not see any of those photographs. I am not saying it is not cruel, and I am not saying hares do not suffer pain, but I believe that, ever since I attended coursing matches, things have improved considerably. Matches are regulated by the Irish Coursing Club under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958.
Senator West gave particulars of the number of hares that have been killed. I am glad Senator W. Ryan gave us the number of hares that would be coursed on any given day because I was thinking that, if that figure were given, the number of deaths given by Senator West would not appear so bad. That appears to be the case. A couple of instances were given by Senator West where the number of deaths was above the average. The average seemed to be 14 or 15. From the conservation point of view, not alone must you get the number of animals that have been killed, but you must get the number of births and you must know the population. Such evidence as I have is to the effect that the hare is not in danger of extinction. When this Bill is passed my Department and I will have machinery to enable us to assess these matters and, by an administrative process, to enumerate the hare population and ascertain whether the stock of hares is increasing or decreasing.
Senator Dolan raised the question of beagles and beagling. That is a form of hunting I have known since I was a child. There was always a conflict between the greyhound owners and the beagle owners. The beagle owners always referred to the greyhound owners as pot hunters, and the beagle owners regarded themselves as sportsmen who did not kill the hare. Beagle hunting packs are slow moving. They rarely, if ever, kill the hare, as Senator Dolan said. The Bill as originally drafted would have made it obligatory on the master of a pack of beagles— and I would love to hear him being called "master"—to get a licence to hunt. Under an amendment which I shall be moving later on, a licence for beagle hunting will not be necessary in the open season. It is necessary if the hunting or beagling is to take place in the close season. The idea there would be, perhaps, to grant a licence for a couple of weeks in the month of March. I do not think Senator Dolan has anything to worry about there.
Let us look at this amendment and see what it invites the Seanad to do. It provides:
(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other enactment the Minister shall have power to make regulations governing every coursing match held by any coursing clubs affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club.
Obviously, Senator West appreciates that the regulation of coursing matches is entrusted to another organisation, the Irish Coursing Club, which operates under statute. As has been said here by Senator W. Ryan and others, the Irish Coursing Club grants licences and refuses to grant licences. I am not saying this categorically, but I think it can grant licences subject to conditions and, if it cannot, perhaps its power should be extended. The powers given to the Irish Coursing Club are adequate. I do not think it would be desirable that two Departments should regulate the same activity. That would be a duplication of effort and I would not agree with it.
In the second part of the amendment I am asked to get a record of the number of hares killed during a coursing match held by any coursing club affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club or during captivity for the purposes of such a match within 14 days. That would be duplicating the control of coursing. It may be that, for the purposes of checking up on the hare population to ascertain if it is increasing or decreasing, my Department might like to find out the number of hares killed throughout the country, whether at coursing matches, or by shooting, or other means, throughout the year. If we want to do that, we can do it.
I am somewhat surprised that a Senator of the liberal trend of Senator West should invite the Seanad to enact the third part of his amendment because, quite candidly, it smacks to me of the police state. I am asked to enact in this Bill a measure which would provide a camera control of a legitimate activity of private people and record it and I suppose file it and use it against them without warning, or without their knowing this was being done. This could lead to all sorts of things. People might be at a coursing match when they were supposed to be somewhere else. They could find themselves caught by the camera and they could get into all sorts of trouble. In all sincerity, I am surprised that it should be suggested in this day and age that we should enact in this House this provision that:
The Minister may direct that the proceedings of any coursing match held by a coursing club affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club may be photographed, filmed, televised or in any other way recorded.
This is compulsion. I would not stand for that for one moment. The day we have to descend to that sort of thing will be the day when we should abolish coursing altogether and I do not think that day has arrived.
There are just a couple of points concerning the Minister's reply. I can see he has objections to subsections (1) and (3) but I do not understand his objection to subsection (2). The point about subsection (2) is that, as I said, I could not stand over the figures I quoted because there are no authorised figures about hares killed at coursing meetings. It seems to me quite reasonable in view of the fact that there is considerable debate and that not all coursing meetings are well run. That is really the problem we are trying to tackle. Many coursing meetings are not run as they should be. I do not mean to imply that people who go to coursing matches are necessarily cruel. Most unnecessary cruelty to animals is by default. It is not done on purpose. It is done because certain precautions are not taken rather than because certain specific things are done. That is what the second part of the amendment is designed to do and I cannot see any objection to that.
As far as subsection (3) is concerned, the problem is that of harrassment of people attempting to take photographs at coursing meetings. Senator Ryan alluded to this matter. The amendment to subsection (3) is to ensure that if it is necessary to take photographs this will be done without harrassment.
As far as subsection (1) is concerned, I take the Minister's point that the Irish Coursing Club is the body which regulates coursing meetings. Perhaps statutory control on the Irish Coursing Club should be tightened up, but this would have to be done through the Act which gives the Irish Coursing Club the authority to regulate coursing meetings.
If the Minister accepted some regulation such as provided for in subsection (3)— I cannot see how that in any way smacks of a police state or interference; it is simply a matter of getting an accurate and authorised record—it would stop much of the controversy which goes on. I was pleased that Senator Kerrigan supported this argument because it would clear up much of the ambiguity which surrounds coursing.
I am sorry I have arrived so late in this debate but I had to fulfil some academic commitments. I am very interested in this whole question of coursing. As a token of that interest I went to the trouble of going to a coursing meeting.
With regard to the entire debate, I notice that there has been a very strong moral case made against any kind of cruelty to animals at any level. With regard to the coursing of hares that kind of moral objection has taken, perhaps, a most emotive force within the discussion in the Seanad. Indeed, one of the things which emerged in the discussion of the entire business of wildlife, is in regard to the relationship between the human species, if one might put it that way, and the animal species. Senator M.D. Higgins spoke in a very profound and poetic way about the fact that we have so disregarded our environment that we have taken too little account of how badly our animal population has been treated by the human population. He almost reached the stage—not quite— of saying that it was a great pity that there had not been more consultation with the foxes, hares and badgers before certain legislation had been introduced.
Senator John Horgan spoke in a different key of moral discourse when he said that it was a woeful pity that the otter should be destroyed. Senator Horgan is a fisherman and as such he said he would be very happy if an otter approached him when he had caught a fish to give the fish to the otter. This was said in a speech in which he deplored coursing.
Later, Senator Noel Browne spoke, again in the kind of autobiographical way in which Senators have been speaking on the subject, and recorded the fact that he was a vegetarian and deplored the destruction of wildlife of any kind. As I listened to the different speeches I was struck by the fact that all of us, human beings, the species which is assembled here, without representation by otters or fish, are capable of such extraordinary moral emotion on the entire subject. A man who was fishing and perhaps had played that fish——
I am sorry to interrupt the Senator but he has not yet discussed the amendment before the House and he has been speaking for quite some time.
I did mention the fact that we were speaking about the coursing of hares.
Would the Senator relate his remarks to the amendment before the House? This is not a Second Stage debate.
Is it proper, with the amendment before the House at the moment, to speak about the principle by which human beings regulate the survival of animals?
If the Senator relates it to the amendment before the House it would be in order, but it is not a general debate on the moral principles of coursing which we had under section 23 some time ago.
I take your point, a Leas-Chathaoirleach, and am very grateful to you for having drawn my attention to it. It seemed to me that with regard to the entire hierarchy of life on this planet, even if one is a vegetarian one must accept that his survival depends on a whole effort of chemical warfare against slugs or even beautiful insects like butterflies. The whole range of moral rectitude in this matter must come back to the fact that the human species, as such, survives by a kind of predatory activity against the animal and insect life of the planet.
I speak as one who, after the age of 12, has never either fished or hunted. However, I did go to the trouble of going to a coursing meeting. At that meeting one of the things that struck me as being untrue was the idea that people were being involved in some kind of bloodlust. In fact, the killing of the hare happened away in the distance. The people were far more interested in the hounds breaking from the traps. By and large, the people did not range themselves around that part of the course where the animal was killed.
With regard to the general principle of coursing, I would feel that the balance of nature within the country——
We have already agreed that the general principle of coursing is outside the scope of the amendment. The amendment deals with making of regulations for the controlling of coursing interests.
It seemed to me that if the survival of the hare as a species within the country is to be some kind of priority then somebody must look after it.
Senator Michael D. Higgins gave a horrendous description of a posse of people who went out to kill indiscriminately all kinds of animal life, even innocent animals like cranes.
With regard to the coursing of the hare, if it is in the hands of a responsible body which monitors the hare population, looks after its general health, establishes its survival and does that without an undue degree of violence and cruelty, then it seems to me from the experience of having gone to one coursing meeting, that the survival of the hare could be in worse hands than in the hands of the Irish Coursing Club. My feeling from the experience of that coursing meeting was that there was no sense of delight in the destruction of that innocent and beautiful animal nor was there anything abominable happening. Perhaps the survival of the hare, its health and its place within the natural life of Ireland could be fairly honourably committed to the Irish Coursing Club.
A while ago I asked the Minister to examine the amendments with a view to incorporating some of them. Having listened to the Minister I can apperciate the difficulties in regard to subsections (1) and (2) of Senator West's amendment. It struck me that, to take the numbers of the coursing match without giving a balanced film, might simply be allowing people to put over the view they wished. I do not think that would be fair, and there should be consultation with the coursing club.
The Minister should devise some way to monitor the situation, where some record is kept by him. I know there are certain returns to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries from Bord na gCon and the Irish Coursing Club but I am not sure whether they are reliable or not. There should be returns not only of the numbers of hares killed but also of the numbers used. We would need a factual report of these matters. I have been told that things have improved vastly since the time when I was coursing, 20 odd years ago. The public are not aware of that and they accept certain facts. We, as Members of the Oireachtas, have a duty to have some way of monitoring this situation. I would ask the Minister to examine it.
(Cavan): The debate on this amendment has now reduced itself to subsection (2) of the amendment. It is conceded that I may reject subsection (1) and certainly subsection (3). Subsection (2) asks that
"a record of the number of hares killed during a coursing match held by any coursing club affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club or during captivity for the purposes of such a match, shall be given to the Minister by the club concerned within 14 days of such a match."
My attitude to that is that if such a record is to be kept, it should be kept by the Irish Coursing Club, which is the body authorised by statute to regulate coursing matches. If I were, in this Bill, to take power to require those records and that return to me, I would be cutting across the powers already given to the Irish Coursing Club by the Greyhound Industry Act of 1968. Moreover, Senator Kerrigan made the point that a record of the numbers of hares killed would be valueless unless we also had a record of the number of hares coursed.
In greyhound racing there was a gentleman known as the Stipendary Steward, who used to go round and inspect what was going on there and report back. I am certain that the Irish Coursing Club have such a steward, authorised, and indeed obliged, to attend meetings and report back to them. If there is any weakness in the control of coursing which needs tightening up, it should be tightened up by an amendment of the Greyhound Industry Act. I am not to be taken for one moment as conceding that there is any necessity for such tightening. I have not made a study of it and I have not had reports on it. The Greyhound Industry Bill was introduced by an inter-Party Government in 1956 or 1957 and filibustered until that Government went out of office. It was reintroduced in 1958 and the volume shows that all Stages —Second Stage, Committee Stage, Report Stage—were passed within a few days, and with only one division. I do not like saying this in his absence, but Senator Browne was then a Member of Dáil Éireann. That is the Bill which authorises coursing, which consolidates coursing and he— although if he was here now he would be speaking loudly in favour of this amendment—never opened his mouth against that Bill in 1958. He certainly never voted against it.
I do not want to be introducing over-controversial matters here but I repeat that it may be that this suggestion in paragraph (2) of this amendment is desirable, but it is a duty I am not going to take on myself, as Minister for Lands and as the Minister charged with conservation. If I were to get a record of the hares that died at coursing matches without record of the hares that were killed, trapped, snared, shot or died from some disease, as well as a record of the hares that were born in any particular year, this information would be useless. It may be that as Minister charged with conservation I will be looking for this information, maybe through co-operation with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries or the Irish Coursing Club, but if I get that sort of information it will be only a part of more extensive information covering the entire activities of the birth and death of the hare population. If this was a Bill to deal with cruelty to animals or to regulate coursing, I would have difficulty in resisting this amendment. This is a Bill which deals with conservation only.
I should like to put one question to the Minister. Could he tell me if the Irish Coursing Club have such records and, if so, are they available to the public? There is no point in having the number of hares killed unless you have the total number of hares coursed. Is this information in the hands of the Irish Coursing Club and is it available to the public?
(Cavan): I am informed that this sort of information is available to the Irish Coursing Club. I have not before me the Greyhound Industry Act. I know that, even before the Greyhound Industry Act became law, coursing matches were regulated by the Irish Coursing Club with its headquarters at Clonmel. If a club's coursing match was not recognised that club would not get a nomination to the Irish Puppy Derby or to some such event, and that being so there would be no match because nobody would course their dogs at it.
I am sure that since the passing of the Greyhound Industry Act their powers and control have been strengthened and I believe that that sort of information is available to the Irish Coursing Club, I do not know whether it is available to the general public.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 59:
In page 22, lines 47 to 54, to delete subsection (1).
Amendment No. 59 is of a different nature from the previous amendments we have been discussing. They were dealing with abolition of or regulation of coursing. This amendment is designed to abolish otter hunting and stag hunting. These practices are now very rare and I do not see any reason why they should continue in view of the fact that both the otter and stag populations are dwindling. They are under severe pressure and I think that all hunting of otters and stags should be stopped.
(Cavan): The purpose of this amendment appears to be to ban otter and stag hunting completely. This I am not prepared to do, but I am ensuring under subsection (1) of section 26 that these forms of hunting will in future be carried out only under licence. It will of course be possible under section 9 to impose such conditions in any such licence as may from time to time be appropriate particularly in the interests of the conservation of the species. My information indicates that the number of animals killed in these sports is not significant. In the circumstances I do not propose to accept the amendment.
As I have said before, this is a Conservation Bill and I have said that I suppose ad nauseam at this stage, but up to the introduction of this Bill and until it becomes law otters are not protected at all. Deer are not protected at all and this Bill is giving a measure of protection to these animals and regarding them as game in the same way as game was dealt with under the Game Preservation Act. The position is now that there will be a close season for otters and deer and that they can be hunted only during an open season which will be regulated by the Minister from year to year and as the occasion may arise and it will be possible to hunt them under licence only and a licence may have conditions attached under section 9 of the Bill. That is a vast improvement. I think that it is going too far to propose to ban otter hunting and stag hunting altogether.
Could the Minister indicate the number of types of otter hounds and the number of types of stag hounds now operating in the country? I know they are very small.
(Cavan): I know there are about two types of stag hounds and two or three types of——
I think a distinction could be made on the one hand between the hunting of hares which are a palpable, obvious menace to oats, grass, wheat and young corn, and on the other hand the hunting of otters and stags. I was born in the country and I have never heard of complaints of farmers against the depredations of otters or of deer.
There is a kind of an aboriginal rationale behind the hunting of the fox and of the hare, a feeling that you are wiping out something that is in fact deleterious to the whole agrarian health of the environment. Even though I grew up in a part of the country which was very jealous of its young turnips, corn, wheat and so forth, I have never heard anybody complain against the depredations done by either otters or deer. Therefore, in my earlier contribution I made a fairly strong case for the rationale behind coursing. It is a much more difficult proposition to make a case for the hunting of otter or of the deer. It would seem to me that that kind of hunting would be one that would come within the more cosmetic aspects of what we call in the trade blood sport, in other words that the deer and the otter are not in fact a threat to the environment. Therefore there is a harder case to be made for taking joy in their being hunted down. Consequently I would tend to support Senator West on this.
I do not agree with the Minister. I think that the stags and otters are too rare. This is a conservation Bill. I think we should protect them completely and I intend to press the amendment.
(Cavan): When I heard Senator Martin speaking I thought “There is a country-man speaking and he knows what is involved in hares,” but now I think that he is only half a country-man. Hares do some damage but I fear that the damage done by deer is infinitely greater to trees, crops and grass. Farmers complain bitterly about deer trespassing and eating as much as their own sheep. I understand that otters also do damage to fish; but even if the deer did damage that would not be an excuse or a reason for exterminating him altogether. The stag is a lovely animal and I think he should be preserved. The country would be much the poorer if the deer population were to be exterminated.
I am not very familiar with stag hunting but I believe that it is seldom the stag is killed. He is hunted all right and recaptured and hunted again at different times, but he is well looked after and I am told that he is rarely killed.
(Cavan): Yes. I understand it is rarely that that happens. I am not an authority on that either. Otters are sometimes killed. I am improving the position here. I am protecting these animals and giving a large measure of protection to these animals under this Bill. Prior to this Bill they had no protection whatever. They were regarded as vermin. Anybody could kill them how and when they liked at any time. The position under the Bill is improved.
I take that point. But if the Minister accepted my amendment it would improve the position as far as the deer and the otter were concerned even more.
Question: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the Bill" put.
Will Senators seeking a division on that question please rise.
Senators M.D. Higgins, West and Martin rose.
The Senators' names will be recorded in the Official Report as dissenting.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.05 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 27th November, 1975.