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Bad Hare Days if Stand up for Jack Rabbits in Ireland!

Hares, better known to US citizens as jack rabbits, are horribly abused in Ireland in a cruel "sport" that is patronised by top politicians and powerful business people. They laugh and cheer as the timid inoffensive animals are baited and mauled to death at public festivals of barbarism.
I am an Irish anti-blood sports campaigner and my book Bad Hare Days is generating a lot of controversy, not unexpected given the long running debate on the ethics of live hare coursing in Ireland. I can accept criticism, but not the bullying and the blind unreasoning hatred that my legitimate opposition to this so-called sport has elicited from some coursing fans

My book was NOT written to drive coursing fans wild, or to split families and divide communities, as one critic has accused me of doing. I have received phone calls from defenders of hare coursing threatening all manner of unpleasantness!

There is such a thing as the constitutional right to free speech. I have got phone calls in the past week since the book went on sale telling what should be done with me and people like me.

I set out simply to recount my own personal high profile involvement in the Irish anti-hare coursing campaign.

I joined that campaign thirty years ago after witnessing scenes of cruelty in a field where hares were being netted for coursing opened my eyes for the first time to the downside of Ireland's "field sport" tradition.

I then determined to learn more about the peculiar form of "entertainment" that passed for sport in parts of the Irish countryside. Nauseated by the spectacle of hares being made to run for their lives from hyped up greyhounds, and by the heart-rending cries of the hares as the dogs tore them apart, I joined the campaign against blood sports.

I found that hare coursing was high on the list of activities that animal welfare people wanted banned by law. This we sought to achieve by picketing coursing events, letter writing on the subject, and lobbying politicians.

But I found that taking a strong public stand on a deeply emotive and controversial issue almost always carries a price tag.

I, like many others who opposed the powerful vested interests and lobby groups that promote and support hare coursing in Ireland, suffered at their hands. I was assaulted at work, subjected to severe bullying and fired from my job with a farmers Co-op for my anti-coursing and anti-hunting views.

I describe that in the book and it seems that some people now aren't happy with that. Fine. We can disagree, but bullying I reject with the utter contempt it always deserves. Bullying and democracy are opposites.

Hare coursing in Ireland has the backing of leading politicians and wealthy business people. The pro-animal baiting lobby has enormous influence within the corridors of power. This is why, despite being opposed by a majority of the population (according to opinion polls), this sadistic practise continues to shame our country.

But as far as simply holding and expressing one's opinion on the subject is concerned... I certainly wouldn't attempt to prevent a hunter or coursing fan from writing his or her memoirs, so maybe they might respect the right of an "anti" to tell his story?

John Fitzgerald,
Callan,
Co. Kilkenny,
Ireland
Phone: 00 353 56 7725543