Animal Rights

Blood Sport: Rabbits & Dogs in Live Hare Coursing Face New Enemy

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Animal lovers worldwide are appalled that “live hare coursing” is still considered a “sport” by many in Ireland. Now, unfortunately, a major political party has reversed its stance and is supporting these brutal events in which pairs of greyhounds are set loose to chase captive wild rabbits (hares) within a wire-enclosed field from which there is no escape. The dog that is first to "turn" the hare (divert it from its straight run to the opposite end of the enclosure) is declared the winner in each course. There is heavy gambling on the outcome of each race or "course.”

Though the stated intent is not specifically to kill the hare, most of the animals are severely injured, either by mauling or being tossed into the air by the dogs, or after the coursing event they often die from Capture Myopathy, a condition that affects a number of wild species, including the Irish Hare. The greyhounds, as all dogs exploited in cruel sports, also suffer injury, abuse and neglect in the race.

At a recent event in a public park in Belfast, trainers were reportedly seen feeding live rabbits to their greyhounds in broad daylight to “blood” them. Rabbits too young, too old, or otherwise unsuited for coursing, are used to “blood” the dogs as part of their training.

These wild rabbits are also subjected to a terrifying ordeal when they are captured, crammed into little boxes and then confined in large open-air cages until the day they are used as bait.

Sinn Fein, Irish Republic political party, has become pro-hare coursing!

During the past year an Irish political party, called Sinn Fein, has become dominated by hare-coursing apologists, who have even justified their depravity on the basis that it is “good for the hare.”  

Sinn Fein (pronounced Shin Feign) is the fourth largest political party in the Irish Republic.  The Republic includes 26 counties on the Island. Sinn Fein is also the second largest party in Northern Ireland, which includes six counties and is politically part of the UK. Thus, Sinn Fein has a presence and tremendous influence in both states which share the island. 

In 2009 the Sinn Fein party adopted an official stance of being opposed to hare coursing. However, in order to change that and influence votes, many pro-hare-coursing proponents joined the party. In 2010 Sinn Fein reversed its position at the party conference and since then has been officially pro- hare coursing!

A disturbing consequence is that Sinn Fein has also tried--so far unsuccessfully--to have the 2010 hare coursing ban in Northern Ireland repealed. That attempt was thankfully rejected by a majority of members of the NI Assembly (Parliament), but the very fact that Sinn Fein even tried shocked and alarmed animal-protection groups all over Ireland.

We can help these animals with just an e-mail!

In September 2011, Sinn Fein will again hold its annual conference.  Members of the Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, and other humane activists in Ireland hope to persuade the party to revert to its anti-hare-coursing position.  They are lobbying branches of the party in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on behalf of the animals injured and killed in this horrific “blood sport.”

They are asking animal lovers all over the world to please send an e-mail appeal to Sinn Fein at [email protected]  

The majority of Sinn Fein TDs, councilors and MLAs have declared they are personally opposed to hare coursing.  The pleas of compassionate people from all over the world are needed to support them and advise that the continuation of such a brutal pastime will adversely influence commerce and tourism in Ireland.

More on Sinn Fein and Hare Coursing

There's an excellent explanatory piece on the website of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports at

And, here’s a very informative and compelling radio debate on hare coursing with John Fitzgerald, founder of Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, vs. a Sinn Fein official.