Agriculture/Animal Welfare, Dáil Issues, Oral Questions

Challenging Minister Coveney on the issue of hare coursing and asking if he will invite  a broad range of animal rights organisations to attend futre Animal Welfare Conferences.  Unfortunately the questions didn’t come up but written replies are below:

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will bring forward an amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 to enable the protection of the legislation to be extended to hares at coursing events. 
– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015.

Ref No: 25840/15 Lottery: 24

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine : (Simon Coveney)
The Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 represents a major updating of our laws in this area going back to 1911.

Under the Act coursing of a hare is permitted unless the hare is hunted or coursed in a space from which it does not have a reasonable chance of escape. The protections, such as the muzzling of greyhounds, which were introduced in 1993 have played an important role in safeguarding hares involved in coursing. In addition to supervision by officers from the National Parks & Wildlife Service, my Department’s veterinary officials attend around 10% of coursing meetings with a view to ensuring optimum welfare standards. These are selected through a combination of random and risk-based decision making.

The Deputy will be aware that the matter was both debated at length and voted upon during the extensive debates that occurred during the passage of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 through these houses. I think that we have struck a reasonable balance in the legislation as between those opposed to hare coursing and those who consider it to be a legitimate sport .

I am fully committed to promoting good practices that respect the welfare of all animals and my Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and in dealing with breaches of animal welfare legislation. The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 applies across the board, both to rural and urban areas and to all animals, irrespective of species, whether kept for commercial, domestic, sport, show or for other purposes. Under the Act, on summary conviction, a person can receive a fine of up to € 5 ,000 and, on indictment, €250,000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years. There are fixed penalty payments for lesser offenses. The Act provides the framework within which the welfare of animals can be safeguarded and I am hopeful that the substantial and significantly increased levels of penalties for offences of animal cruelty provided for under the Act will act as a deterrent to animal welfare abuses.

In conclusion, I am satisfied that the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 is working well and I have no plans to review so soon after it has come into effect.

Parliamentary Question No.32

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to the now annual animal welfare event which was recently held on 12 June 2015 in Farmleigh, if he will ensure that a broad range of animal rights and welfare organisations are invited to attend in the future.
– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015.

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine : (Simon Coveney)
The focus of this year’s Animal Welfare Conference held in Farmleigh on 12th June was on the welfare of dogs and horses and on providing information to those involved in direct provision of welfare services in these areas. Invitations were extended to the 147 animal welfare organisations throughout the country involved in receipt of ex-gratia funding from my Department.

This year’s venue had much more limited capacity, than Dublin Castle which was not available. Nevertheless, every effort was made to have a wide cross section of interested individuals and organisations involved in animal welfare represented . In this regard, after the initial invitations were issued, a record was kept of all requests for invitations and, as far as possible, these requests were facilitated with invitations to organisations on a standby list. The intention was that this list would be used to fill any places from initial invitees who were unavailable to attend. I understand that all of these requests were facilitated with 47 standby invitations issued. The conference was fully attended with over 140 delegates.