WHILE organised cruelty to animals may not be the biggest issue concentrating people's minds in the run-up to the European and local elections, I believe that Sinn Fein needs to ditch its abhorrent support for live hare coursing.
Not only does the party have an official policy of condoning and promoting the continued legality of this blood sport in the Republic, it has already tried – unsuccessfully, thank God – to reverse the hare coursing ban in Northern Ireland.
If it had succeeded, coursing clubs would have reactivated their "sport" and once again be free to capture hares and use them in baiting sessions in the north.
The hares would be mauled, forcibly struck by the dogs and tossed about like rag-dolls. Others would have died after coursing of stress-related conditions – all for a gamble and a laugh.
Right now, police across England and Wales are clamping down on hare coursing gangs, whose activities are widely deemed to be on a par with dog-fighting.The hare is a treasured part of Ireland's wildlife heritage.
Sinn Fein speaks of a united Ireland. I would remind the party that repeated marketing surveys point to big majority of Irish people, north and south, favouring a ban on hare coursing. Ireland is united – against this animal cruelty posing as "sport".
Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports