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Sinn Féin votes to regulate hunting and coursing

Hare coursing remains legal in Ireland but may face regulations.

Sinn Féin members voted in favour of plans to regulate hunting and coursing in Ireland at the party’s annual conference last month.

A series of motions were put forward calling for an outright ban of the practices, bringing the country in line with Northern Ireland where hare coursing has been illegal since 2003. However, the ard comhairle (high council) motion said an outright ban would drive the practices underground. Instead, it said they should be strongly regulated and that alternatives such as drag hunting and lure-coursing should be incentivised. It also called for government departments to establish a commission of experts to examine and recommend appropriate regulations.

Liz Mort, secretary of the National Coursing Club, told ST: “Research done by Queen’s University Belfast showed that hares were 18 times more plentiful in areas managed by the Irish Coursing Club [ICC].”

Ed Coles, a keeper who helped push through new legislation against hare coursing in the UK earlier this year, said: “I’m in two mindsover this. Having seen first-hand the trouble the illegal side of the sport can cause, part of me would advocate a total ban throughout Ireland. On the other hand, heavily regulated organised coursing could have its benefits. Either way, the welfare of the hares should be paramount.”