Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 29 Jun 2010

Vol. 713 No. 4

Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010: Committee and Remaining Stages

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

The Fine Gael Party is opposing every section of this legislation, including section 1 which sets out the definitions of the two Acts referred to in the Bill. We do not even agree that it should be entitled the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill.

Deputy Hogan is not offering very constructive engagement. However, at least I have managed to unite the Fine Gael Party on this issue, something the Deputy's party leader could not do.

This is already turning into a facetious debate.

A Deputy

Mind your language.

I support section 1. The Bill is correctly entitled the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill because it amends existing legislation to ensure the right of particular domesticated animals to enjoy a stress-free existence. I wholeheartedly support the legislation.

It would be better to look after human beings.

This Bill repeals section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976. When that legislation was discussed in this House in 1975, the then Minister for Lands, Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick, made the case for that section as being very much about wildlife conservation. It meant the Minister and his Department had control over the hunting of stags and other wildlife covered by the section. Deputy Michael D. Higgins made the point that it is a funny way of going about legislation, removing the Minister's own right to licence and control a particular activity.

Is the Minister opening up loopholes? That is why he introduced the other provisions of the Bill that he must now amend for the hunting of deer generally. The Minister would have been better to have retained his power to licence this activity because he would have had control and could have issued licences according to the provisions introduced when Deputy Higgins was Minister, where he looked after the conservation of the deer, their safety, health and welfare, making sure they were not killed and that dogs did not get too near them, and regulating the type of vehicle they were transported in. The Minister is giving up a power that was introduced to conserve animals.

That is completely irrelevant.

It is not irrelevant. I would like to know why the Minister took this approach.

Section 1 relates to definitions and only those can be discussed.

The point relates to the Minister's approach to the Bill generally.

Deputy Tuffy is talking about section 2, not section 1. Her remarks are utterly irrelevant anyway.

Question put and declared carried.
Question proposed: "That section 2 stand part of the Bill."

This section allows the Minister to repeal section 26 of the Wildlife Act 1976. The fact we have that Act, and an amendment to it in 2000, is a clear indication that there was some concern about the activities involving animals. Regulations and monitoring were put in place and they have stood the test of time. The Departments of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and Agriculture, Forestry and Food, and all those who wanted to inspect the activities related to stag hunting, were able to do so under proper supervision.

I cannot see why the Minister wants to amend the section of the principal Act to remove his power to grant a licence authorising the hunting of deer. That is the fundamental issue associated with the legislation and the Minister still has the opportunity to bring forward additional regulations if he feels it appropriate rather than an outright ban on stag hunting. In his zealousness to pursue a narrow agenda, making the Government uncomfortable and giving rise to instability in the Government, the Minister is acting in a completely irresponsible manner by proceeding along this road and implementing legislation that is clearly out of sync with rural Ireland. The vast majority of Government Deputies have to be hounded in here tonight by the Whips to ensure the Government's survival. That is not the way to build trust between Government partners.

The Minister should introduce additional amendments to allay the fears of his Fianna Fáil partners who spoke against the Bill but then voted for it on Second Stage. There will be another vote at 7 p.m. and they will have another opportunity to say whether they agree with the contents of this and other sections. I ask the Minister to be reasonable to those people who have asked him to be genuine and to look at additional regulations instead of an outright ban on stag hunting.

I look forward to his reply that will reflect the views of his colleagues in Government who have put themselves on the line in their constituencies for the Minister and this legislation which he insisted on putting in the revised programme for Government so he could get approval for fiscal parameters to be pursued in the budgetary process in 2010 and for his support for the ill-conceived NAMA legislation. That, however, is no surprise because the Minister was asleep when the bank guarantee scheme was being agreed.

A sense of priority is required about the Minister's actions, which have brought about mistrust because of his insistence on narrow legislation being passed this week and next week, legislation that should not be a priority for any Government when we face such serious economic and social difficulties.

Giving up the power to licence an activity is a strange way to go about dealing with that activity. The original Act had the conservation of wildlife as its stated purpose. The Minister's approach is very divisive, with an all-out ban of an activity that has gone on for 150 years.

The Minister has also failed to address ancillary activities, such as the fallen animals service provided by the Ward Union Hunt. What will happen to the herd of deer that belongs to the Ward Union Hunt? It is an ecosystem in itself; it is a herd and surely the Minister would want to protect it.

This has been a divisive discussion. The Minister does not recognise, because the Green Party is so small perhaps, that there are different views on this issue, with people on either side of the argument and people in the middle. That was always the case, and across the political spectrum that is the reality. That is why the Green Party has turned its guns on the Labour Party, because it was not sure it could bring its Government partners along with it. The Labour Party is a broad church with mixed views on the issue and we have tried to accommodate them. That is how society functions and it is the approach Deputy Michael D. Higgins took when he was Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, speaking to all sides, monitoring and inspecting the hunt, and introducing a strict licensing regime. Progress was made as a result and all sides came on board.

There are no principles involved in this. It is not my principle to ban stag hunting or the Ward Union Hunt; my principles are about free education and similar issues. People were shot in my constituency today and that is where the gardaí should be focusing their attention, not on an issue like this, where there is all sorts of regulation. That is not our priority and it should not be the priority for the Government right now.

Is the word "bullshit" proscribed under Standing Orders?

It is not an appropriate word.

I have learned my lesson since last December.

The Deputy should smoke one of his spliffs.

I have never heard such wanton balderdash in my life.

He should take one of his chill pills from the head shop.

To suggest that the Adoption Bill or the Civil Partnership Bill, or any other legislation that is not fiscally-based, cannot be debated in this House is facetious. It is a failed argument used by those who cannot put forward a strong argument based on the legislation itself.

Deputy Hogan said this is narrow legislation and I concur. It is so narrow we should not be spending more than two or three hours on it. Instead, this is the highlight of the year in the Oireachtas. If it was not so funny it would be embarrassing to me and others as parliamentarians when there are bigger issues that we must vote on. In last year's budget we had to make some tough decisions.

It was the leader of the Green Party who said he would bring down the Government if this Bill was not passed.

The Government was very nearly brought down last October. Deputy Tuffy mentioned education — I had a leaflet outside schools in my constituency telling them they could rest assured that if education cuts were not reversed and education protected in the budget, we would not be in Government.

What good did that do?

The INTO, the TUI and the ASTI have all welcomed our achievements. We bartered in the programme for Government for concessions, and we bartered on economic and education issues. We also bartered to a small degree on modest animal rights issues.

The Deputy is speaking balderdash.

People outside the Green Party might not realise that while this might be important to members of the party we know it is not a big issue and we wonder why it is being turned into such a divisive issue. There are much bigger issues to deal with and much bigger fish to fry, if one pardons the pun.

The Labour Party takes donations from trade unions and is beholden to its paymasters just like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have taken money from developers and are beholden to their paymasters. Perhaps they do not understand that while the Green Party negotiated a programme for Government on issues of principle, we are also pragmatic enough to know that we did not get some things and we have to put up with that. We have taken the flak over the fact that the M3 at Tara was signed off before we entered Government.

The Green Party sorted that.

This one modest piece of legislation, small as it may be, is getting a large number of Deputies cynically motivated and apoplectic. There are far bigger issues that we should be dealing with.

If this Bill is passed tonight, as I believe it will and rightfully so, we can get on with other issues such as the Civil Partnership Bill, which I believe is far more important to be quite honest.

The Deputy would.

After this is passed tonight, the Ward Union Hunt will continue. It will either release the deer earlier and bring it back to captivity without being stressed by a pack of hounds and then have the scent, the horse riding and the industry or it will learn to drag. It will not collapse the industry because it cannot have the hounds baying at the stag. I would bet money on that. If it wants to cut off its nose to spite its face then it is very stupid. RISE! is very clever because it turned this debate into a rural versus urban divide. As someone with rural blood roaring through my veins it is not a rural versus urban divide. Rural people oppose the wanton cruelty of animals just as urban people do.

In 2007, Deputy Gilmore put pressure on the Minister, Deputy Gormley, to enact legislation but that has changed now, because the pollsters state that perhaps a handful of people might vote for the Labour Party as it is doing well in the polls. That is the difference between a small party and a large party. As a small party, we are not beholden to anyone. We try to work for the people and for our principles.

We know that sometimes we fail or do things we do not like but we achieve because we believe in something.

Closing down eel farming in Westmeath.

I am proud to support this amendment and I believe in it wholeheartedly, which is more than I can say for some of the Deputies opposite who do not believe a word they are saying; they are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

I take issue with some of the comments of the previous speaker that those who are opposed to the Bill condone wanton cruelty. I assure him that is not the case. However, his party has no concept of what rural Ireland is like, its traditions or the value to the local economy of various aspects of rural life, including hunting, coursing, fishing and shooting. They are big part of rural Ireland and a big part of what we are. They are very beneficial to the economy of rural Ireland.

They are not being affected.

As Deputy Hogan stated, this could have been done by regulation. This Bill is divisive. It is quite obvious that it is divisive within Fianna Fáil but I have no doubt that each Deputy will row in as the whip is applied. They speak out of two sides of their mouths; they tell their constituents that they are against it but they will vote for it here. They did the same on drift net salmon fishing. They spoke on Committee Stage against it but voted for it. As far as I am concerned, they are a bunch of hypocrites.

I seek clarification on the Minister's amendment No. 1, which states in paragraph (2) that a person who hunts deer with two or more dogs shall be guilty of an offence, but in paragraph (3) states it shall not be an offence for a person on foot to hunt deer with two or more dogs, under and in accordance with section 29 and section 42. To satisfy my thirst for knowledge on the Minister's line of thinking on this, will he clarify for the House what is in and what is out?

We are discussing section 2.

Sections 2 and 3 are related in this sense, begging the Acting Chairman's indulgence. We want clarification from the Minister on his position on other types of deer hunting. What is on his mind in respect of other types of deer hunting? It is still a little unclear.

I will reply to the contributions of the Deputies opposite, beginning with Deputy Phil Hogan who seems to be exercised about the stability of the Government. He is concerned about the trust that exists between the Government parties. I would have thought he would have welcomed destabilisation in government but I can tell him that we have a renewed programme for government, which will go through. As far as I am concerned, as Minister my job is to deliver on the renewed programme for Government and I intend to do that in a timely fashion. The Deputy is correct to state we have a legislative programme in the run up to the summer months, including the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010, the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 and the local government (Dublin mayor and regional authority) Bill. All of these will go through. There is also the climate change Bill.

I do not understand Deputy Tuffy's line of argument. She stated I would deprive myself of power to regulate but it does not apply because what this does is ensure that this activity will not take place. Deputy Tuffy's argument does not apply. I would have thought that was absolutely clear. She also spoke about different points of view and democracy. Opinion poll after opinion poll has shown that the majority of people do not want this type of activity to continue. Most people find it distasteful to see an animal in distress, particularly a domesticated animal.

Social issues arise, and Deputy Tuffy's party is aware of this. Divorce was a very divisive issue but the Labour Party saw fit to push it through. It had my support in the House because I thought it was a necessary measure. I took the view that it was an extremely important issue and set aside party politics. However, the Labour Party does not see fit to do so now because it sees an opportunity. What it is doing this evening is extremely opportunistic and cynical. Individuals in the Labour Party have clearly and unequivocally stated they oppose bloodsports. It was encouraging to see that Deputy Broughan did not turn up for the vote on Second Stage. I know of his personal conviction. We shall see whether he turns up later but I doubt it. I applaud that.

Deputy Tuffy questioned why we are spending time on this. This afternoon, her party and Fine Gael objected to the guillotining of this legislation. As far as we are concerned, this Bill consists of a number of paragraphs and we should not waste valuable Dáil time.

It is not NAMA.

That is a fact.

The Minister's own Deputy said that.

That is exactly the way we want to approach this. We want to get through the legislation as quickly as possible.

Section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act allows the Minister to grant a licence to the master of a pack of stag hounds, authorising the hunting of deer by that pack. This section is being repealed. The reference to section 35 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 relates to the repeal of section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976 which allowed the Minister at the time to grant a licence to the master of a pack of stag hounds authorising the hunting of otters by that pack. Otters are protected by the Wildlife Act and the habitats directive and are considered a priority species. That is simply what this section is doing. It is absolutely crystal clear and there should be no argument about it.

On the Minister's comments, the Green Party promotes many things——

——in government that the Labour Party has supported. For example, we agree that third level tuition fees should not be reintroduced. We have strongly supported some the changes it has made regarding planning. We support the Government's initiatives on civil partnership. The problem with this Bill is that there are different views. For example, studies carried out on the Ward Union Hunt found evidence of physiological recovery within three or four days and full recovery within ten days, and two months post hunt the hunted deer were found to be in good health. If one starts bringing the issue of animal cruelty into the debate one could talk about horse racing or many other activities on which people would have a point of view.

We live in a society where we have to bring people on board, in terms of animal protection. We need to decide on the best way to proceed. I have a difficulty with this Bill. The Minister is getting rid of the power to licence the activity. The Minister feared that he might drive this into hunting and shooting deer under the Firearms Act and that is why he brought in the provision which has concerned deer stalkers. He was trying to close off loopholes. He is now trying to fix the mess that he created by trying to close loopholes and he may well end up opening another loophole.

What the Minister might allow is unregulated hunting and shooting of deer, which is not deer stalking. He is not licensing such activity in the way he is licensing the Ward Union Hunt. The problem is that because the Minister was not prepared to engage and talk to the Ward Union Hunt and Wild Deer Ireland in a genuine way and consult with Coillte, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, different sectors of society and the parties here, he is creating a Bill which may contain loopholes which the Minister will then try to close. There was a provision in section 26(1) of the Wildlife Act 1976 whereby the activity could be controlled by licensing.

If the Deputy reads the Bill she will see that we are making provision to issue shooting licences. It is something that has been completely overlooked in this debate. As Minister I have issued many licences for the shooting of deer but this is a different activity.

It is keeping them alive.

I do not know what sort of information the Deputy has but one does not need to be a vet or any specialist to see that the animal in question is under severe stress. It is a domesticated animal. The vets to whom I have spoken have clearly stated that the animal is under severe stress——

A Deputy

It is not in the report.

It is and I have spoken to the vets. The Deputy has a vested interest. I accept that.

Question put and declared carried.

Amendment Nos. a1, 1 and 1a will be discussed together. Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive will then be discussed together.

I move amendment No a1:

In page 3, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

"(2) A permission may not be granted under section 42 of this Act to enable the hunting of female deer between 1 May and 30 September in any year.".

This amendment provides that permission for culling female deer between 1 May and September will not be granted under section 42. We tabled this amendment because Wild Deer Ireland raised this issue with the Minister. Its concern is that the Minister is currently issuing licences to land owners under section 42 of the Wildlife Act to cull female deer from May to September at a time when female deer give birth to fawns. If a female deer that has fawns is shot the fawns will be orphaned and will suffer a horrible death because they will have no mother to look after them and will starve to death.

If we had stakeholder involvement this could have been the type of issue the Minister could have addressed in terms of the conservation of wildlife and protection of deer. Everybody accepts the need to cull deer and that deer stalking is an acceptable activity but it must be done in a humane way which does not cause suffering. We tabled this amendment because it is appropriate to the issue of the protection of deer and wildlife. Would the Minister consider accepting this amendment or will he deal with the issue in another way?

We are dealing with amendments Nos. a1, 1 and 1a together. I stated on Second Stage that I would table an amendment to section 3 to allay the fears of licensed deer stalkers who have a licence from my Department under section 29 that might inadvertently affect their legitimate hunting practices. It is not unusual for a deer stalker to bring a dog while out hunting deer. This is especially the case in woodlands where a dog would be used to retrieve fallen game which can sometimes be concealed in the undergrowth.

In cases where several hunters were stalking deer on a property and each had a dog or if they were bringing two dogs for training purposes it could be construed that they were breaking the law based on the original wording of section 3. It was never my intention that the Bill should place any restriction on lawful deer stalking. Accordingly, the amendment I tabled states that it would not be an offence for people with a deer licence under section 29 of the Wildlife Act who stalk deer on foot or those with permission under section 42 to have two or more dogs.

The normal annual licence is issued under section 29 to deer hunters. More than 4,000 such licences were issued by my Department for the 2009-10 hunting season. The open season for most deer species extends from 1 September to the end of February. However, there is a 12 month hunting season for munchak deer as it is considered an invasive species which can cause much damage if allowed to spread.

Section 42 permission is issued outside the open season and offers a facility whereby a person can obtain permission on a case by case basis to take action against a protected species, including deer, which can include the scaring, capturing or killing of said species in a situation where serious damage is being caused to agricultural crops, forestry plantations or other fauna. It is considered that there may be occasions when it is necessary or useful to bring dogs to assist in moving deer from areas where they are causing serious damage, for example, in young forestry plantations. I am satisfied that this amendment to section 3 will address the fears expressed by licensed deer hunters.

On the amendment tabled by Deputy Tuffy, applications made to my Department for section 42 permission are considered on a case by case basis. I have the powers under the Wildlife Acts to include conditions in the permission which can prohibit culling of female deer during a certain period. I have included such conditions in quite a number of the section 42 permissions issued in recent months. Accordingly I consider that the inclusion of this provision in the Bill is not necessary.

On amendment No. 1a , also tabled by Deputy Tuffy, I have already informed the House of the proposed amendment to this part of the Bill allowing licensed deer stalkers on foot to hunt deer with two or more dogs. As it is sometimes the case that a person granted a section 42 permission may also require the use of two or more dogs I will not accept this amendment.

Given that the Minister was very sure-footed with his intentions for this Bill, I am surprised he is proposing an amendment. He is such an expert on these issues. Had the issue not been brought to his attention by the Irish Deer Society and his colleague, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform who had a robust exchange of views with him on firearms licences for people who wish to engage in normal activities——

That is not true.

I am only telling the Minister the reality. I am aware he knows everything.

He thinks he knows everything.

He did not think about the notion that people might use two or more dogs to search for deer in distress on forested lands.

The Deputy referred to a robust exchange of some sort.

I was speaking about distressed deer.

He said something about a robust exchange.

What did he mean?

Allow Deputy Hogan to continue. The Minister will get another opportunity to contribute.

Deputy Sargent described this legislation as very important from the point of view of public safety.

We might as well as put flak jackets on stags so they are identifiable and will not be able to cross roads.

Try living in the real world.

Chasing a stag on top of a car.

Deputy Gogarty could not tell a stag from a donkey.

The Minister has done an about turn on the practical implementation of the legislation. Deer are sometimes in distress and stalkers have to find them to deal with their distress. It is not a big issue but it had to be brought to his attention that the legislation can cause practical difficulties. I welcome that he is granting a substantial number of licences but I know only one instance of the public safety issues that Deputy Sargent raised. This one instance is the reason for blanket legislation.

What about the cars?

There are many reasons.

I am aware of only one example of a deer landing on a car and this involved the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Ó Cuív, and a deer which escaped from forested lands while he was driving through County Kerry.

The Deputy should check it out.

He was not being chased by dogs. Perhaps he was being chased by constituents in Kerry South who were unhappy about particular matters but they certainly had nothing to do with deer. The Minister needs a sense of proportion. He is trying to solve what he believes to be a problem with a sledge-hammer. We already have restrictions, monitoring and licensing arrangements. The Departments of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Agriculture, Fisheries and Food continuously monitor these activities but he is not happy.

At taxpayers' expense.

I am glad Deputy Sargent raised the issue of taxpayers' money because we would not prioritise €70,000 to count frogs.

Europe prioritised it. The Deputy is a good European.

A waste of time and money.

If the Deputy wants to speak about the waste of money, he should ask the Minister why he is not investigating all the money wasted by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.


Hear, hear.

He does not want to look into what Fianna Fáil has been up to for years or how the taxpayers' money was wasted because he is afraid of what he might find.

Who appointed Lar Bradshaw? You did.

We did more than you ever did.

Like you, Deputy Sargent, I took responsibility. I applaud you for that at least. You and I share that.

It is a small mercy.

At the 11th hour, the Minister accepted that he made a mistake in banning the stalking of deer to alleviate their distress. He has a disproportionate belief in the efficacy of this legislation, while ignoring its practical implementation.

On a point of order, you reprimanded me earlier for not speaking through the Chair. I have noticed since then that Members are speaking directly across the floor. Perhaps we could have some consistency.

I must say, Minister you did not learn a whole lot, because you are still doing it. It is six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The Minister indicated that he will consider the Labour Party amendment on culling female deer between May and September in the context of the licensing regime. When the possibility that section 3 may prohibit deer stalking or culling was raised with the Minister and his officials, he stated that was not his intention. I understand that his officials were to revert to the Wild Deer Association of Ireland with an amendment which would address the issue but this meeting never happened. The Wild Deer Association of Ireland is not completely satisfied with the Minister's amendment. He is prohibiting an activity and then introducing an amendment to make an exception to this prohibition. In effect, he is creating a mess he will have to clean up by means of an amendment.

When I first read section 3 I wondered what it was doing in the Bill given that it has nothing to do with the Ward Union Hunt. The only reason I can see for its inclusion was to prevent a loophole being used after he banned the hunt. He was afraid that people would use the licensing provisions under section 29 to hunt deer on horseback with hounds. In this case, however, they do so without licences and can shoot the deer. He is now trying to row back on the section to allow deer culling. However, will his amendment simply reopen the loophole he is attempting to close? He may be driving this activity in the direction where it will not be licensed or regulated. I do not think anybody, including the Ward Union Hunt, wants that. If he did not intend to prohibit deer stalking or culling, why did he include section 3 in the Bill?

I congratulate Deputy Tuffy for tabling a reasonable amendment that attempts to deal with the legislation rather than scaremonger, patronise a smaller party in Government or pretend the Green Party is against everything in rural Ireland.

That is a patronising statement if ever I heard one.

The Green Party is against rural Ireland because it does not have any votes there.

Allow Deputy Gogarty to continue.

This is not an argument between rural and urban Ireland. It is a question of whether animals have the right to enjoy a relatively stress-free life. On that question, Deputy Tuffy suggested that a recovery period of three or four days is, somehow, an excuse to allow a domesticated deer to be taken off a cart and chased around the countryside by baying hounds, thereby causing risk to the public and, as the Irish Council Against Blood Sports reveals in the videos which are available to watch on YouTube, bloodshed in some instances. In this context, a three or four day recovery period is quite patronising to the animal. How many of us have owned dogs? How would Deputy Tuffy like it if I chased her pet beagle around the road or gave it a good kick up the rear end and scared the living bejasus out of it? What if I then told her that her animal would recover in a few days but that I got a great laugh out of it and sure is that not sport? I was hunting the animal and giving vent to my masculine, testosterone fuelled instincts. Normally, I leave this on the GAA pitch. My claim to fame in that respect is that I am probably the only person in Ireland who got into a fistfight with a member of his own team. That is another story.

This is from the man who claims to be 50% homosexual.

There are ways and means of dealing with aggression in a managed and controlled manner. If people want to have the thrill of the hunt, they can have hounds chase a scent either by releasing the deer or dragging the scent before the hunt.

To return to Deputy Tuffy's remarks, the Minister clearly indicated that if requests are made on a case by case basis, permission could be granted in the case of a certain breed of deer that needed to be culled throughout the year. It will not be permissible to cull female deer of other species during the season in which fawns would be at risk of being orphaned. The Minister will have the power to oversee this matter and he and, no doubt, his successors will take full cognisance of these responsibilities. While the Deputy's amendment is a welcome attempt to produce constructive legislation, as the Minister stated, it falls short at the final hurdle.

I will reluctantly address Deputy Hogan's accusation that the Minister is afraid to deal with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (Amendment) Bill. As has been stated on countless occasions, it was the Minister who established the investigations into the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. He had the balls to ask the wife of one of his greatest political adversaries, an independent, strong-minded and qualified individual, to deal with this issue without fear or favour. The Minister does not speak from both sides of his mouth.

Unlike Deputy Gogarty.

No, unlike Deputy Hogan's leader, Deputy Kenny. The only Member opposite whose position I respect is Deputy Brian Hayes who, in a recorded comment to the media, confirmed that approaches were made to Sinn Féin by the Fine Gael Party.

The Deputy should stick to the issue.

We are discussing the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill.

Deputy Kenny denied such approaches ever took place. One cannot believe anything that comes out of his mouth because he will be a cute hoor and say anything for the sake of populism. Fine Gael Party Deputies are doing the same with this legislation.

Deputy Gogarty is running down the clock.

Deputy Tuffy and a number of Fine Gael Party Deputies stated that Fianna Fáil Party Deputies may have to vote against their beliefs because the programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce this legislation. Green Party Deputies have had to do this on other issues. There are many on the Fine Gael Party benches who are on record as strongly opposing blood sports. Tonight, they will shamefully line up and vote against forward looking legislation. They will be pragmatic, listen to the instructions of their party Whip and vote in a manner they do not like. That is the nature of politics. I would like to have free votes on many issues but unfortunately that is not the case. For some reason, this legislation scares people.

People know the truth. They are educated.

The truth is that none of the minor Bills promised in the programme for Government is about attacking fishing or hunting.

What about the protests outside Fairyhouse racecourse five years ago?

Please allow Deputy Gogarty to continue without interruptions.

As someone who does not eat meat, this could give vent——

Do we need to hear about the Deputy's dietary habits?

This is like a counselling session.

That statement may appear to justify the prejudices of the entire RISE! campaign but contrary to popular belief, not every member of the Green Party is a vegetarian and some of them, including Deputy Mary White, have hunted.

I ask the Deputy to confine his remarks to the contents of the Bill.

As I indicated on Second Stage, my personal beliefs in terms of what I would like the Green Party to do and what is achieved in the programme for Government are two different things. The Green Party will continue to honour the programme for Government until we negotiate a new one, possibly as coalition partners with Fine Gael after the next election. That party would do a much better deal and would find it much easier to negotiate with the Green Party than with the Labour Party.

Not on the Deputy's life.

Our door is still open despite the double speak and hypocrisy.

How will the Green Party secure seats with 2% of the vote?

The Fine Gael Party knows as well as the Green Party does that when it comes to numbers, politics is the art of the possible.

This is surreal.

Despite all the comment about the Green Party and the end of rural Ireland, if Fine Gael needs the votes of Green Party Deputies to make Deputy Kenny Taoiseach after the next general election without the double-speak of Deputy Gilmore, it will come to us and we will negotiate.

The Deputy must speak to the Bill. He is addressing issues unconnected to this debate.

I was referring to a wider issue raised by Deputy Hogan when he suggested the Bill was the thin end of a wedge that would go far beyond the narrow confines of the legislation. I can play fantasy politics as much as anyone else.

The Minister tabled amendments in response to genuine concerns. Who will blame a Minister for proposing amendments during Committee and Report Stage debates? This has been always the case and has been done with financial legislation, civil rights Bills and other legislation. There is nothing sinister or incompetent about finding and addressing loopholes in legislation. There is no reason not to support the Bill on the basis of the amendments as they do nothing more than close loopholes.

Will the Minister indicate how many deer are injured and killed in road traffic accidents in Killarney National Park? As Deputy Hogan noted, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, is fortunate he was not killed some years ago when his car burst into flames after hitting a deer. If a car collides with a deer on a public roadway in Killarney National Park, the Department is not liable to pay compensation. How many deer have been killed in road traffic accidents in recent years?

We heard about the achievements of the programme for Government. A sum of €70,000 has been provided to count frogs, while a further €60,000 has been allocated to study a certain type of bat.

Deputy Gogarty alluded to job creation. If this Bill is passed, hundreds of jobs will be lost. The only jobs the leader of the Green Party has created were junior ministerial positions for his party colleagues.

It would be as well to recognise that we have an international obligation in the area of biodiversity. However, let us deal with that issue when we have an opportunity to do so. The legislation before us has a narrow focus as it deals with a specific activity. It is an anachronism in this day and age that the activity in question continues to take place. In addition to the animal welfare issue that arises, there is an inconsistency in terms of the use of a domesticated animal in this activity. While a stag has some wild tendencies, it is a domesticated animal and we would not tolerate the hunting of any other type of domesticated animal, for instance, a cow or pig. Stag hunting is an anachronism.

I accept that the public safety aspect of the Bill, a collision with a stag, is less likely to arise than a head-on collision with another car caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel. However, if a vehicle were to collide with a stag and someone were to be killed, would the Deputies Opposite remain quiet or would they ask which Minister licensed the activity and thereby allowed a tragedy to befall a family? Would they be sanguine about the Minister's role in allowing this licensing activity to continue and failing to notice previous near misses, including, but not only, the incident in Kildalkey? In December, for example, a deer had to be put down having collided with a vehicle. Fortunately, the incident did not result in a human tragedy.

At the weekend, I was walking along a quiet laneway in Garristown in the company of several people who pointed out the exact location at which a stag emerged from across a ditch onto the laneway in front of them. If the incident had occurred a couple of minutes later in the presence of children——

Why not ban everything?

I thank God we have not had——

This is a peevish Bill. The only concession the Green Party could secure from the Taoiseach was a commitment to ban the Ward Union Hunt.

Do we have freedom of speech in the House?

I thought we had come to another sorry state where freedom of speech was being denied. I apologise for the interruption there. There are many incidents that are near misses which never feature in the media. I do not want them to feature in the media because I do not want a fatality as a result of this anachronism in 2010.

The Deputy nearly knocked me down on a bicycle there one day.

We have listened to many contributions in this House. Seven Fianna Fáil Deputies came into the House to speak against the legislation. Now is the time for them to put up or shut up regarding how they vote.

Not one of them is in the Chamber as we speak.

We have heard a lot of blame placed on the Green Party regarding the Animal Welfare Bill. We have heard a lot of criticism of the Green Party and to be fair to its Members, they are doing so because the Fianna Fáil Deputies are allowing them to do so.

As it has reached 7 o'clock and in accordance with an order of Dáil today, I am required to put the following question:

"That the amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for Committee Stage and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; in respect of each of the sections undisposed of that the section or, as appropriate, the section as amended is hereby agreed to in Committee; the Title is hereby agreed to in Committee; the Bill as amended is accordingly reported to the House; that the Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

It is sad that the only bit of hunting we will have left is the hunting of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party out of Government. As a teller, under Standing Orders I call for a vote by other than electronic means.

What about hunting Deputy Bruton?

As Deputy Paul Kehoe is a Whip, under Standing Orders he is entitled to call a vote through the lobby.

Question again put: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for Committee Stage and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; in respect of each of the sections undisposed of that the section or, as appropriate, the section as amended is hereby agreed to in Committee; the Title is hereby agreed to in Committee; the Bill as amended is accordingly reported to the House; that the Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 71.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.


  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Curran and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle, I wonder if a vote by other than electronic means cancels the electronic vote.

If it does, that means Deputy Mattie McGrath did not actually vote on the Bill.

That would be nothing new.

It supersedes it.

That is not a point of order.