A monitoring committee on coursing is in place, comprising veterinary and administrative officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Irish Coursing Club and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to monitor developments in coursing. In that regard, the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is well run in a controlled and responsible manner in the interests of hares and greyhounds. The work of the monitoring committee focuses on the maintenance of the highest standards of animal welfare and safety for both hares and greyhounds. It is critically important that the monitoring committee continues its work to ensure that those in coursing operate in accordance with the regulatory framework and that the welfare and safety of hares and greyhounds are kept to the forefront at all times. The committee meets annually and, inter alia, considers any issues arising from the previous coursing season.
Wildlife rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and veterinary inspectors from my Department attend coursing meetings throughout the coursing season and report on their findings. These reports are reviewed by the monitoring committee, which also arranges to have any complaints or reported incidents investigated. I have no plans to change the composition of the monitoring committee. The report of the monitoring committee on coursing for the meeting held on 18 December 2018 was released on receipt of a recent request under the Freedom of Information Act 2014. I can supply a copy to the Deputy. The report covers a review of the 2017-18 coursing season, the provision of new reporting forms, the issue of illegal hunting, the problems caused by buzzards, the media coverage of a disease outbreak in the United Kingdom and a single item under any other business.