Six horses and 5,000 people support hunting in Waterford today
27th March 2010
Not since the famous racehorse ‘The Wild Man from Borneo’ was brought along the Quays in Waterford to celebrate winning the Aintree Grand National in 1895 has a horse paraded along the city’s streets.
That changed today as three riders from the Woodstown Harriers (county Waterford) and three from the Ward Union Hunt (counties Meath and Dublin) led a march of 5,000 pro-hunting supporters to protest outside the Green Party convention.
Among the riders was Johnny Widger, whose ancestor, Tom Widger, bred the ‘Wild Man’. He was joined by Stephen Farrell and Eamon Kent from the Harriers and by Pat Coyle, Darren Campbell and Megan Carberry from the Ward Union.
The demonstration was organised by the RISE! Rural Ireland Says Enough! campaign. RISE was formed jointly last January by the Hunting Association of Ireland and FACE Ireland to promote and defend traditional rural sports from imminent Green legislative threats. Between them, the sixteen supporting organisations represent an estimated 300,000 enthusiasts of traditional rural field sports.
The marchers heard speeches from Jim Murphy (Cork), Gavin Duffy (Meath), Eddie Downey (Vice President, Irish Farmers’ Association) and Dónal Boyle (Tipperary). The MC on the platform was Tommie Hennessy, Master of the Déise Harriers in East Waterford. He told the marchers: ‘More than three centuries ago, a man named Oliver Cromwell came to this city and tried and failed to capture it. You might remember that he was the man who gave us the choice of ‘To Hell or to Connacht!’ Well, today this demo has a similar message to the Greens who have invaded our city. This time we are saying ‘To Hell with John Gormley!’ And to Hell with his Green Party pals and their anti-hunting hangers on!
We stand here today united, to promote and defend our traditional rural based pastimes, the pastimes that the people of our cities, towns, villages and farms have enjoyed for more than a thousand years. We are hunters on foot and on horseback. We are hunters with guns and with fishing rods. All of us are under threat from the Green Party fanatics. Today, the immediate threat of banning is to the Ward Union Hunt. Tomorrow, if they get away with that, it will be someone else will be their target. Until, eventually, no sport will be left for any of us.’
RISE! has called for amendments to the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill, currently before the Seanad, to make it a truly anti-puppy farming piece of legislation. It is opposed to John Gormley’s proposal to ban the Ward Union Stag hunt and it is concerned about the implications for farmers and sports people of the proposed Animal Health and Welfare Bill.
Since its foundation, RISE! has been lobbying TD, Senators and Councillors in support of its aims. The campaign has received strong support from jockeys, trainers, and bookies because of the severe implications the proposed legislation will have on horse racing and greyhound racing. The campaign has also been raising a national petition to underline the widespread support for its aims.