I see that certain rural TDs are worried about the 25% compromise on agriculture emissions. Over the past few weeks they’ve been predictably vociferous in opposing proposed curbs on activities driving climate change.

What strange priorities they have. Back in 2019, I came up against the same pig-headed aversion to ecological progress when lobbying TDs to support a ban on hare coursing.

The then heritage minister had suspended the blood sport in response to confirmed outbreaks of the RHD2 virus that is fatal to hares, highly contagious, and can be spreaded by coursing itself.

Heedless of the threat posed to the Irish hare as a species, the same rural TDs who now want to stall attempts to cut agriculture emissions, kicked up a ferocious racket, forcing the government to lift the suspension and allow coursing to resume.

This was despite warnings by scientists and conservationists that RHD2 had the potential to wipe out the Irish hare, a sub-species unique to Ireland and one of our few truly native mammals, a consequence that one expert said would represent an “an ecological catastrophe”.

Rural TDs dictating policy?

Last week, the government granted a licence permitting capture of hares for another coursing season, ignoring not only the cruelty of the practice and the continued prevalence of RHD2 in the countryside, but also the fact that the Irish hare has been in decline for the past half century due to a combination of habitat loss, predation and poaching.

Those of us campaigning to protect this animal, renowned in song and folklore, sometimes feel like throwing our hands up in despair when we encounter these backwoods politicians who put electoral interests before the plight of an imperilled and persecuted wild animal.

Now, though, I can see that it isn’t just the Irish hare that the hillbillies are prepared to throw to the dogs. They are more concerned about saving their own political careers than saving the earth.

What they forget is that if climate change isn’t checked, there won’t be any more elections to contest, or seats to win or retain. No big salaries either; just the sad remains of a once powerful species on an uninhabited planet.

From John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co. Kilkenny.