‘Why take hunting, golf, even Mass when there is no Covid threat?’ – Aontú

Aontú has called on the government to “stop the unfair targeting” of outdoor activities under Covid-19 restrictions.

Aontú Councillor for Cavan and Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Sarah O’Reilly, said it is her view that the latest statement by the Gardaí that pheasant shooting is not allowed under the exemption for sports and exercise is “another example of the unfair targeting of country sports”.

“Hunting, fishing and hiking, to name but a few, have all been banned under the government’s Covid restrictions,” she said.

These are activities which are easily done within social distancing regulations and have untold mental health benefits at a time when that is needed most. Pheasant hunting and fishing are not linked to any Covid outbreaks or clusters.

“In fact, the Covid cost of these activities is next to nothing, with the benefit being a boost to the mental health of local communities and a boost to local economies.”

She added that the fishing and hunting sectors “employ thousands of Irish people” and have been “core parts of many rural communities for centuries”.

“For many of those in my community, these activities offer a great chance to look forward to something and get some relief from all the bad news this year,” she continued.

“Taking these activities away from our local communities is heavy-handed and unfair. Why take fishing, or hunting, or golf, or even Mass when there is no Covid threat – but a great mental health benefit?”

Statement from An Garda Síochána

Pheasant shooting season begins on Sunday (November 1). An Garda Síochána has released a statement on the matter:

“This normally involves shooting club members travelling to pheasant shoots around the country, frequently in groups, and is regarded as sport shooting.

Under the current regulations, sporting events must be organised under the structure/licence of a national governing body, funded by Sport Ireland. As such, sport shooting is prohibited in any other circumstances.

“Recreational hunting does not fall under any of the exemptions allowed for exercise or sporting events. It has also been clarified that recreational hunting does not come under any permissible exemptions for travel outside of the home.

“Shooting of vermin (rats/foxes/crows) is permissible as an essential support service to the farming and agriculture profession.”