Thursday, 28 March 2019

Questions (144)

Clare Daly

Question:

144. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason officials of the hare coursing monitoring committee departed from their remit and interceded for the hare coursers when they wrote to Coillte seeking permission to capture hares on Coillte land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14641/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Irish Coursing Club (ICC) is recognised as being, subject to the provisions of the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, and of the constitution of the ICC and subject to the general control and direction of Bord na gCon, the controlling authority for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds.

The ICC is committed to maintaining high standards in the sport of coursing and it actively promotes the protection and conservation of the Irish hare. Coursing operates in a highly-regulated environment coupled with a comprehensive set of rules directly applied by the club. Hares are sourced under licences from the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht which are issued annually and subject to a total of 26 conditions.

A Monitoring Committee on Coursing was established during the 1993/94 coursing season and is comprised of officials from my Department and representatives from both the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the ICC to monitor developments in coursing and, in that regard, the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a well-controlled and responsible manner in the interests of hares and greyhounds alike. The Monitoring Committee meets annually and considers any issues arising from the previous season. Wildlife rangers from the NPWS and veterinary inspectors from my Department attend coursing meetings and report on their findings. The Monitoring Committee also arranges to have any complaints or reported incidents investigated.

In this case, officials from my Department contacted Coillte to ascertain on behalf of the Monitoring Committee if a mechanism existed whereby the ICC could request permission to net hares for the purposes of regulated hare coursing on Coillte-owned property.

In response, Coillte expressed the view that it would not be possible to grant the request without impacting on general access for recreation. This was my Department’s only communication with Coillte on the matter.