Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ceisteanna (325)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

325. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29368/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Coursing is regulated under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, chiefly by the Irish Coursing Club (ICC), subject to the general control and direction of Rásaíocht Con Éireann. Hare coursing is managed and regulated by the Irish Coursing Club (ICC). The organisation consists of 89 affiliated clubs from Ireland and Northern Ireland, all of whom must abide by the ICC’s rules and regulations.

This Department has a strong and consistent record regarding the enforcement of animal welfare rules, including the review of 100 years of animal welfare legislation, leading to the enactment of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

The ICC has assured this Department that it has systems and practices in place to underpin the welfare of hares and greyhounds involved in coursing. Hares can only be collected for coursing by clubs affiliated to the ICC, in accordance with the terms of two licences granted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

These two licences contain a total of 42 conditions which have been refined over the years, the majority of which are central to hare welfare. These include a variety of measures, including a requirement that a qualified veterinarian attends all coursing meetings to report on the health of the hares, a prohibition on the coursing of hares more than once in the same day, a prohibition on the coursing of sick or pregnant hares and a requirement that hares be released back into the wild during daylight hours.

Coursing clubs are required to comply with directives, instructions and guidance notes issued by the ICC in all matters relating to the capture, keeping in captivity, tagging, marking, coursing and release of hares, and the muzzling of greyhounds.

A Monitoring Committee on Coursing is in place, comprising officials from this Department, the ICC and the NPWS, to monitor developments in coursing and, in that regard, the situation is kept under constant review to ensure that coursing is run in a controlled manner in the interests of both hares and greyhounds.

It is the view of this Department that it is critically important that those involved in coursing operate in accordance with the regulatory framework and that the welfare of both hares and greyhounds remains to the fore.