Irish pols protect hare coursing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  October 2012: (Actually published on November 1,  2012.)

MULLINGAR,  Ireland--The Irish Council Against Blood Sports welcomed recent announcements by Jimmy Deenihan,  minister for arts, heritage,  and the Gaeltacht,  that he would ban hunting curlews and Kerry red deer.
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The council  warned,  however,   that Deenihan’s July 2012 suggestion that he might also ban shooting hares “is believed not to be to save hares from being shot to death but rather to help make it easier for coursers to find hares for their blood sport.  Earlier this year,”  the Irish Council Against Blood Sports reminded, “pro-coursing Deenihan pledged to coursers,  ‘Whatever I can do for coursing while I am in this job,  I will certainly do it.'”
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Deenihan moved to protect curlews and Kerry red deer for conservation reasons.  Curlews,  a bird species,  have declined by 60 to 90% according to population surveys.  Kerry red deer are also reportedly declining,  within a limited range.  Deenihan pledged to review the status of other Irish deer subspecies as well,  last reviewed in 2005.
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Hare coursing,  consisting of setting greyhounds on captive hares,  has been banned in Scotland since 2002,  in England and Wales since 2005,  and in Northern Ireland since 2010,  but continues in the Republic of Ireland under an exemption from anti-cruelty laws introduced in 1911.   The exemption was retained in an updated draft animal health and welfare bill published in March 2012.
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“Every professional opinion poll conducted since 1978 on attitudes toward hare coursing in Ireland has shown that a substantial majority of Irish people favour its abolition,” responded the Irish online newspaper Journal.ie,  while exposing the attempt of a pro-coursing organization to rig a poll.
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But the current Fine Gael and Labour ruling coalition, representing the two largest Irish political parties,  appears unconcerned about the polls on coursing.
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“It is not appropriate to simply outlaw hare coursing and hunting when they are pursued according to the codes of conduct drawn up by clubs,” declared agriculture minister Simon Coveney in a September 20,  2012 address to the Dail (Irish parliament).
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“Considerable numbers of people are passionate about these pursuits,” Coveney said,  “and my job is to ensure that standards are met rather than simply outlawing practices.

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