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 Header Item Hare Coursing Regulation (Continued)
 Header Item Greyhound Industry
 Header Item Adjournment Debate Matters
 Header Item Leaders' Questions

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 912 No. 1

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Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly This is another sort of Irish solution to an Irish problem, because the rules belie a reality that is very different. We have an incredible contradiction where, on the one hand, hares are protected under the Wildlife Act but, on the other, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act all animals are protected with the exception of hares to be coursed. This resulted, in 2015, in a situation where 7,000 hares were taken from the wild to be used in live coursing events. We are one of a minority of countries which allow this barbarity to continue. Contrary to the Minister's statements on the conditions hares face, the reports from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which is employed to monitor this situation, tell us that only 17 of the 75 events held in the country last year had National Parks and Wildlife Service officials in attendance and the state of many of the hares requiring assistance, which were released back to the wild distressed, is evident in its reports, which refute the information given to the Minister by Bord na gCon.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed It is an Irish solution to an Irish problem. I am not sure if Deputy Daly is suggesting that we should have an imported solution to an Irish problem. I highlight that a very high proportion of hares netted for hare coursing were returned successfully to the wild. For example, at the end of the 2014-15 season, 99.3% of hares captured were released in a healthy condition back after coursing. We have moved some distance in respect of where coursing was some years ago in terms of the monitoring and high standards of welfare we apply in terms of both the greyhound and the hare, something to which all parties involved can be paid tribute, including Bord na gCon, the Irish Coursing Club, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and my Department. For that reason, we have now reached a situation where we have a sustainable industry and I do not propose to ban the industry.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly My solution is to ban coursing outright. I speak as a Deputy who represents the only part of Dublin where this practice still continues. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has a video of this barbarity in Balbriggan, which is in my constituency. It shows agitated hares running up and down within the confines of a coursing field while coursing members shout and scream at them in that enclosure. With regard to the number of hares released back to the wild, many of those hares are in a very distressed state and die afterwards. This has also been stated by officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. In Nenagh, for example, some of those released included heavily pregnant hares, which the Minister has told us are supposed to be protected. The rules do not serve to protect the hares in that regard, and how could they when we have greyhounds weighing 60 to 88 lbs and travelling at 43 mph, which can do a hell of a lot of harm, even if they wear a muzzle, to a hare that weighs approximately 6 lbs. The protections are really not worth what is claimed, and this is one of the reasons the Irish hare - a unique race of mountain hare - is now becoming extinct, even though on one hand we say it should be protected.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Minister to conclude, please.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I have nothing to add to what I have stated already. We have travelled some distance in respect of the supervision of hare coursing and I do not have any plans to ban it. Equally, however, I would add that all parties involved in hare coursing must operate within the law and the terms of licences issued to them in respect of hare capture and so on.

Greyhound Industry

 56. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed to intervene in the crisis surrounding Irish greyhounds being transported to China; and if he accepts that he has a specific role to play in prohibiting Irish greyhounds from being transported to countries where they face cruelty and abuse, given his funding of Bord na gCon. [14518/16]

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Parliamentary Question No. 56 is in the name of Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan and it is being taken by Deputy Clare Daly.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Andrew Doyle): Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle All exporters of dogs are required to provide animal health and welfare certification in respect of compliance with identification requirements, fitness for the intended journey, health status and rabies vaccination requirements. Once these animal certification requirements are met, dogs, including greyhounds, may be exported internationally. Exporters are also required to comply with the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1 of 2005 on the protection of animals during transport. 

I am aware that a very small number of greyhounds have been exported to Macau in the past two months. I understand that Bord na gCon, which is responsible for the governance, regulation and development of the greyhound industry in the Republic as well as the well-being of greyhounds, has developed a code of practice on the welfare of greyhounds. This sets out specific standards that all individuals engaged in the care and management of registered greyhounds are expected to meet. The code emphasises that owners and keepers must take full responsibility for the physical and social well-being of greyhounds in line with best welfare practice.

Oversight mechanisms in place regarding greyhound exports include inter-agency co-operation, co-operation with fellow members of the International Greyhound Forum and mechanisms relating to intelligence and information which is received from welfare officers during the course of investigations carried out under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011. Where any breaches of welfare standards are identified under that Act, Bord na gCon takes stringent actions and prosecutions ensue in accordance with the Act.

Officials of my Department have recently met with representatives of Bord na gCon and the welfare members of the International Greyhound Forum - represented by the ISPCA and Dogs Trust here in Ireland - to consider the issues surrounding the export of greyhounds. Bord na gCon advises all owners involved in the export of greyhounds to export only to destinations with high animal welfare standards and that provide the expected levels of greyhound care and management as defined under the code internationally, and I endorse this view. I point out, however, that international trade takes place in a legally complex environment and that national legislation is not legally binding on activities in other states.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly If the Minister of State has met representatives of the ISPCA, he will know that it, the Irish Blue Cross and Dogs Trust are implacably opposed to the export of greyhounds to China. The Minister of State's response today is contradictory, as were the responses of his predecessors. On the one hand, as the Minister of State has tried to do today, we have been told previously that once the appropriate animal health and welfare certificate requirements are met in transit it does not really matter what happens to them at the end of their journey. However, contradicting that is the fact that in March of this year the Department blocked the Irish Greyhound Board from exporting dogs to China because of animal welfare concerns.

The reality is that the practice, which poses significant danger to the dogs involved, is continuing. The practice has been highlighted internationally by animal welfare organisations and has got quite a lot of global attention. Deputy O'Sullivan's question is seeking the intervention of the Minister of State in this situation and for him to play a role. To be honest, he can, because his predecessor has done it before, and the circumstances mean he should do it in this case, particularly to be in line with the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011. This Act states that anyone who trades, transports, rears or trains a greyhound has to have due regard to a code of practice. It includes situations where they are being traded and transported, so the final destination is key. If they are going to end up at a destination where they are going to be discarded, mauled and end up undoubtedly dead, we should stop that practice.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl As the time available has elapsed, I ask the Minster of State to correspond with the Deputy on the question.

Adjournment Debate Matters

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Before proceeding to Leaders' Questions, I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 23(3) and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin - resourcing the Cavan-Monaghan drug and alcohol awareness services through increased funding and staffing; (2) Deputy David Cullinane - an urgent and targeted response to the Central Statistics Office's quarterly household survey for the first quarter of 2016, which shows unemployment in the south east at 12.5%; (3) Deputy Marc MacSharry - over-afforestation and the future of traditional farming and rural residential clusters and villages in County Leitrim; (4) Deputy Gerry Adams - the Government's 100 day commitment to producing its action plan on housing; (5) Deputy Jan O'Sullivan - maintenance of jobs and payment of entitlements to workers in the TicToc child care services in County Limerick following the sudden closure of services with 55 children at risk of having no places under the early childhood care and education scheme in September 2016; (6) Deputy Thomas P. Broughan - pollution of beaches and bays from raw sewage seepage such as that at Doldrum Bay, Howth, County Dublin; (7) Deputy Seán Haughey - continuation of further education and training courses at the Trinity Adult Resource Group for Education and Training centre in Donaghmede, Dublin 13; (8) Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire - funding and delivering the Cork Events Centre; (9) Deputy Mary Butler - the need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to outline what action he will take to support Waterford Airport following the ending of the Waterford-Luton service; (10) Deputy Mick Wallace - to discuss the impact on NAMA in the Republic of Ireland in light of the recent arrests by the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland; (11) Deputy Willie O'Dea - to ask the Minister for Health the efforts that are being made to secure a favourable outcome for the staff of the Central Remedial Clinic who have been affected by the sudden closure of their pension scheme and if he will make a statement on the matter; (12) Deputy Mattie McGrath - the urgent need for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to direct Tusla to review its application of the 40 year age gap with respect to foster parenting and foster children; (13) Deputy Paul Murphy - the recent reports of over 500,000 patients waiting procedures in hospitals; (14) Deputy John Lahart - to ask the Minister for Health to make a statement regarding tonsillectomy waiting times at Tallaght hospital; (15) Deputy James Browne - the need for the Minister for Health to outline what action will be taken to address the recruitment and retention of psychiatric nursing staff and to avert industrial action by nursing staff concerned about the matter; (16) Deputy Bríd Smith - the issue of soaring costs in bin charges affecting many areas that have seen a 300% increase for some people; and (17) Deputy Clare Daly - to discuss the pension situation at the CRC.

The matters raised by Deputies Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Paul Murphy, Marc MacSharry and Jan O'Sullivan have been selected for discussion.

Leaders' Questions

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin This morning, I believe, the Cabinet allocated an additional €500 million to the health service, which is extraordinary in itself in so far as it illustrates what we had all been saying at the time of the publication of the health service plan at the beginning of this year and prior to the election, which was that the budget for health was insufficient and represented a massaging of the figures before the general election. I pointed out that the figures were grossly inaccurate. The CEO of the HSE said that the health service was under a death sentence and that the level of money provided in the budget was wholly inadequate and had left a significant shortfall. The then Minister for Health, Deputy Varadkar, had indicated that there was a sufficiency of funding available to the health service.

If one goes back over the past three to four years, every year at budget time we essentially got false figures on health.

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