with Horse and Hound

Anti-Hunting Activists Target Northern Ireland

south tyrone foxhounds at minterburn.mullinsSouth Tyrone foxhounds of Northern Ireland at Minterburn  /   Noel Mullins photo

The League Against Cruel Sports has Northern Ireland in its cross-hairs. As we mentioned in a recent News piece, England’s Hunting Act of 2004 does not apply in Northern Ireland. Now, the LCAS wants to change that.

Charlie Jacoby, reporting in the Field Sports Channel of Northern Ireland, harks back to the 1990s as Northern Ireland worked hard to heal their nation from the savage sectarian forces that sliced it in two over three previous decades of violence. Now comes LACS to dice what was already sliced, says Jacoby.

The LACS strategy seems to hang on the results of citizen polling by a pollster of their choosing. They claim that 80-percent of the province is against foxhunting and have enlisted the support of local politician John Blair to press their case.

Weirdly, it was another Blair, Tony Blair, who as Prime Minister of England agreed with LACS and supported the activists’ case by signing England’s Hunting Act of 2004 into law. Which action he subsequently admitted to having been a mistake, in his post-office memoir.

When interviewed by Charlie Jacoby, Northern Irish politician John Blair insisted he is not targeting foxhunters or those involved in country sports but was, instead, acknowledging public opinion on the matter.

Supporters of field sport question the validity of the polling methods and the statistic upon which LACS relies, insisting that an accurate poll in Northern Ireland would not support a ban on foxhunting. An online survey taken by Belfast Live on hunting with dogs showed vastly different results. Some in Northern Ireland believe that LACS has misled John Blair. I’m shocked.

The Countryside Alliance warns of the domino effect. After hunting with hounds is banned, what’s next? Does anyone suppose that the LACS and other animal rights organizations will stop raising funds and discontinue their ultimate quest for equal rights for all animals? Gun dogs, then fishing, are sure to follow. Lovers of all country sport must stand together, insists the CA.

Jacoby reports that the LACS has hired a Scottish public relations firm to change minds in Northern Ireland. The Scots banned hunting with dogs even before the English did.

Both the Scottish and English bills are flawed in the estimation of LACS and other animal-rights groups, and they intend to correct that perceived flaw in the Northern Ireland legislation. The new bill being written by LACS and politician John Blair will make it unlawful for landowners to allow hunting with hounds on their lands. Landowners who do allow hunting will be subject to prosecution for breaking the law. Thus, the LACS bill will criminalize the farmer and estate owner alike―an equal opportunity statute.

Despite his support for LACS intentions, Northern Irish politician John Blair maintains that his bill is not a hunting ban.

“It is not that, never has been that, will not be that with my name on it,” Blair insists. “It is, plain and simple, an attempt to bring a private member’s bill for where dogs are used for the killing of a wild mammal for human entertainment.”

I do admire this musician for how he plays the English language.

Many in Northern Ireland doubt that Blair’s bill will gain traction. Meanwhile, says Albert Titterington, who runs the Irish Game Fair, the very process “is creating hate where there is no hate,” and has the ability to damage the social fabric of the countryside.

This strategy of the animal rights activists―setting citizen against citizen―worked to their advantage in England in 2004, where endemic class hatred already bubbled at the surface. The antis gained votes by framing foxhunting as a sport of the toffs, thereby re-igniting the passions of class distinction. Although our view is from far across the Atlantic, we doubt it will work in Northern Ireland.

Posted August 7, 2021