I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 to 228, inclusive, together.
The legislative base for both parkland and open hare coursing is the Wildlife (Wild Mammals) (Open Seasons) Order 2005 which allows the hunting of hares, including coursing with dogs for “coursing at regulated coursing matches”. The Wildlife Acts defines a regulated coursing match as follows:
"regulated coursing match means a coursing match held in accordance with the rules for such matches which are for the time being both published and approved by the Irish Coursing Club pursuant to the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958.”
The majority of coursing meetings organised by the Irish Coursing Club relate to regular park coursing where hares are captured under licence, are kept in a hare park, are released to course over a designated track and then re-released back into the wild. It is my understanding that in open coursing hares are not captured but are already present in the countryside. Clearly, a licence to capture hares is not required for Open coursing events where hares are not captured and as such there is no requirement for all such events to be listed on the schedule to the licence issued to the Irish Coursing Club.
In its opening statement delivered to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on 9 July 2019, the ICC made a distinction between Affiliated Clubs and Associated Clubs. My Department was not aware of the distinction. It is a matter for ICC to clarify the legal status of such Associated Clubs and my Department is pursuing this matter with the ICC.