Hare coursing: Licences that were issued ‘should be revalidated from today’

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has asked for hare coursing licences that were granted before Level 5 to be revalidated from today (Thursday, October 22).

Speaking in the Dáil, the Kerry TD said a principal officer of the Department of Agriculture recently stated that “coursing is regulated under the Greyhound Acts 1958 to 2019, subject to the general control and direction of Greyhound Racing Ireland”.

“Under the Greyhound Act 2019, a greyhound is defined as a dog entered into the Irish Greyhound Stud Book, all greyhounds that race be it track or coursing are entered into that.

Therefore, the definition of a greyhound includes both track and coursing dogs. Coursing should be covered under the greyhound racing and coursing should, therefore, be exempt under Level 5.

“What is the difference between this activity and, for instance, horse racing? There is no difference whatsoever.”

He added that it is being ran in an “extremely regulated way” and told Tánaiste Leo Varadkar if he is to “study the facts”, he was “actually wrong in the decision that was taken at midnight last night”.

“The NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] should be notified immediately that the licences that were issued should be revalidated from today – because what has been done is actually incorrect.”

‘This is a business to many people’

Independent TD Mattie McGrath spoke on the same issue:

“The coursing people in Ireland, they’re people of the countryside – they love their industry. They mind their animals, they nurture the hares, look after them,” the deputy said.

“They’re in the middle of their coursing at present and they’ve been stopped.

This takes place in controlled areas – out in the countryside. Men, women and children out in fresh air; they’re not crowding or impeding or in close contact and I think it’s totally unfair.

“The ones who were granted licences, some were running yesterday and the day before and now stopped.

“This is a business to many people – it’s also a recreation and a very valuable industry and it’s very good for their mental health.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he is aware that this is an issue and that there is an exemption under Level 5 for horse and greyhound racing and that he will seek clarity on whether coursing falls under that exemption.