THE GOVERNMENT is facing calls to ban the 'cruel' practice of hare coursing in Ireland with a new Bill-- the third attempt to do so since 1993.
RISE TD Paul Murphy launched the Bill outside the gates of Leinster House yesterday with the support of animal rights campaigners-- and some famous faces.
Father Ted star Pauline McLynne (Mrs Doyle) stood outside the gates with a sign which declared 'Ah go on, go on, go on, ban hare coursing', having also supported the last attempt to ban the practice, taken by former Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan in 2016.
In a statement following the launch of the Bill which, if successful, would see the sport of hare coursing made illegal, TD Paul Murphy said:
"It is time to end the cruel and unusual practise of hare coursing. This is an archaic relic introduced by the British aristocracy and has been banned across Europe.
"This Bill gives us a serious chance now to end hare coursing, and we will be campaigning in the months ahead to get support for this. We succeeded in the campaign to ban wild animals in circuses and the ban on fur farming and can do it again on this."
Speaking at the launch of the Bill yesterday, Mr Murphy said the practice was "cruel and barbaric".
"Every year, over 5,000 hares are captured in the wild, they are held in captivity, in very close confinement to each other when they’re solitary creatures.
"They’re trained in which way to run and then they’re coursed. They’re released down a track, they run, and they’re chased by two dogs which are 10 times their size."
The 2016 attempt to ban hare coursing was voted down, and while the Green Party voted in support of the Bill at the time, they were in opposition then and part of the Government now.
Minister for Arts and Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin admitted earlier this year that if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil-- the Green Party's coalition partners-- voted against the Bill, she would follow suit "with the heaviest of hearts".
The Bill will be debated in the near future through the Dáil 'lottery system', where legislation is selected for debate at random.