Metro Eireann, February 15, 2012
In recent weeks articles have appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines that seem to glorify foxhunting, an activity that involves people riding roughshod over the rights and livelihoods of farmers. Indeed, I believe that foxhunts did not have solicitors and judges riding with them, it’s in jail where a lot of hunters would end up.
One farmer I know in Co Westmeath has still not been paid for the loss of his pedigree herd of sheep, valued at over €30,000, that were destroyed after the trespassing of the local hunt on his land. He’s just one of many farmers throughout this country – the real countryside alliance – with bills for damage incurred by mounted foxhunts to various degrees, almost none of which have been paid.
The hated absentee landlords were run out of this country years ago, and we farmers do not want their lackeys back. We do not want them stomping in their jodhpurs and jackboots on the people of the countryside, like the mothers forced to make 10-mile detours to get their children to and from school when the arrogant hunt yeomanry are on the road.
Mounted foxhunts are the curse of the countryside. In 2012 almost all farmers are commercial, with high input costs, and are dependant for their livelihoods on a high return from their crops, livestock, milk, beef and lamb. No farmer wants his work on his important fences destroyed and vandalised. No farmer wants his livestock terrorised even in sheds and his crops and early grass trampled into the ground. The great Irish horse industry, too, can do without hunts next nor near their stud farms exciting their valuable horses.
Why are such hunts even necessary? Equestrian centres offering all kinds of horsey excitement and drag hunting are common throughout Ireland today. Are the foxhunts too poor or too mean to join them? Or is it that they so desperately need the thrill of riding over the rights of farmers?
We also ask hunts to quit provoking or verbally abusing us farmers. I would remind them that the farmer holds a vermin licence that allows him to shoot unleashed dogs that he sees as a threat to his livestock. This has already happened in Kilkenny, Waterford, and Limerick. Let me say in all sincerity that we farmers do not want to shoot anyone’s dog, but we cannot allow our animals to suffer because of irresponsible owners. People have a duty to keep their dogs under control.
We appeal to the Government to do us all a favour and ban fox hunting in Ireland, as has been done the UK. At present the agricultural sector is saving this country. In return we deserve to be given a hand, not a kick.
And to those arrogant, irresponsible, dangerous and often foul-mouthed foxhunting people, we say: Stay off our land! We croppies will not lie down.
Philip P Lynch, chairman,
Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass
Mallardstown, Callan, Co Kilkenny