The deputy will be aware detailed debate was held around the issue of hunting during the passage of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and the Dail voted overwhelmingly to allow the continuation on fox hunting in accordance with an appropriate Code of Conduct.
The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requires persons to ensure that animals being hunted are not subject to unnecessary suffering and specifically prohibits the hunting of animals which have been released in an injured, mutilated or exhausted condition.
Section 25 of the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 also allows for the establishment of codes of practice and for the adoption of codes published by other persons for the purposes of providing practical guidance relating to any aspect of the Act, including fox hunting. Voluntary codes of practice have been established by The Hunting Association of Ireland which detail the conduct to be adhered to in respect of the hunting of foxes and the treatment of the animal during the hunt. The Code prohibits the hunting of foxes where the animal is injured and advocates the humane disposal of a fox when captured. The code also takes into account local concerns and the concerns of the landowner(s) on whose land hunting takes place. I can confirm for the Deputy that officials of my Department meet with the Hunting Association of Ireland from time to time to review the operation of the existing Code.
I can also confirm that I have no plans to change the existing legislation.