Call for Minister to remove suspension on coursing club licences

There’s a call for the Minister to remove the suspension on coursing club licences.

Last month, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan suspended the licences issued to coursing clubs to catch hares.

This was after it was revealed a disease fatal to rabbits and hares, but of no risk to humans, was confirmed in the wild in Ireland for the first time.

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease or RHD affects rabbits and hares; it killed millions of animals in China in 1984, and then spread to Europe.

It was first detected in the wild in Ireland in July this year, and a new case was recently confirmed in Cork, bringing the number of counties the virus has been detected in to five.

Acting Chairman of the Coursing Support Group Kerry, Tom O’Connor says coursing clubs have great respect for the Irish hare.

He says every coursing club has experienced people looking after and tending to hares, and they’d never course a sick or diseased hare.

He says the netting licence, which Minister Josepha Madigan suspended last month, is needed to catch and vaccinate hares, and have vets examine them and report to the relevant departments.

Over 400 people attended a meeting on the issue in Ballydonoghue on Sunday night, and Listowel Cllr Mike Kennelly raised an emergency motion at yesterday’s Kerry County Council meeting.

Cllr Kennelly wants the ban lifted, saying coursing clubs can help resolve the issue.