Wildlife Bill, 1975: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 27 November 1975

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 83 No. 2

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Government amendment No. 60:

In page 23, subsection (2), line 4, to delete “during the period specified in the licence” and substitute “on such day or days (being a day or days on which are not specified in a hares order) as are both specified in the licence and are in the year in which the licence is granted”.

Minister For Lands (Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick,: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Cavan): Under the section as drafted it would be illegal to engage in beagling or harrying of hares at any time of the year without a licence from the Minister. As Senators will know, beagling or harrying of hares is a sport engaged in in some parts of the country and the dogs are followed on foot rather than on horseback. It was never the intention that a licence would be necessary throughout the year. The purpose of the amendment is to provide that beagling and harrying may take place in the open season for hares without a licence but to provide that [122] a licence will be necessary for such sport during close seasons. It is anticipated that licences would or might be granted for a couple of weeks in the month of March. That is the purpose of the amendment and I am sure it will meet with the approval of the House.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 61 not moved.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I move amendment No. 62:

In page 23, between lines 10 and 11, to add to section 26 the following subsection:—

“(4) It shall be an offence to dig for foxes not being a protected animal, in any earth or habitat either temporary or permanent with any implement or tool, or any other means, or to set any dog or any other animal into that habitat for the purpose of driving the animal from that earth or habitat for the purpose of hunting.”

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendments Nos. 62, 63 and 64 are related and may be taken together.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  It is not my intention to delay the House on the reiteration of an old theme, as it is now. Very often in his speech the Minister stated that his Bill was, above all else, a conservation Bill rather than a Bill to deal with prevention in any way. The purpose of amendments Nos. 62, 63 and 64 is, indeed, to deal with that very conservation topic. All three use the same phraseology and that is the preservation of habitat, in other words, the sustenance of natural habitat by noninterference by any implement or tool. Amendment No. 64 particularly makes reference to natural or artificial methods of dealing with the natural lairs of foxes, badgers and otters.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): In regard to amendment No. 62 I should like to point out that it deals with foxes and, as the House will have appreciated by now, the fox is not a protected species under the Bill. I do not concede that special measures of the sort proposed are called for in [123] relation to a species for which no conservation measures are seen to be necessary at this juncture. For that reason I do not think amendment No. 62 is necessary and I do not propose to accept it.

In regard to amendment No. 63, the Bill protects both the badger and the otter. Section 23 (5) (d), as amended, makes it an offence to interfere with or destroy the breeding place of a protected wild animal. In so far as the badger is concerned, this animal is being fully protected and no form of hunting will be permitted. Thus the amendment, in so far as it relates to the badger, is irrelevant. As regards the otter, hunting will be allowed only under the special licences provided for in section 26 (1) (i). The Senator's proposal in its entirety in so far as otter hunting is concerned could conflict with this licensing system, but the question of whether any parts of it would be relevant in the context of attaching conditions to licences will be kept in mind. That is as far as I am prepared to go in the matter.

As regards amendment No. 64, as I have already mentioned in the discussion on the previous amendment, there is provision in paragraph (d) of subsection (5) of section 23, as amended, which makes it an offence to wilfully destroy or interfere with the breeding place of protected wild animals. This seems to me to meet substantially what the Senator has in mind in his amendment, and I do not, therefore, intend to act on his suggestion. Let me summarise by saying that the fox is not being protected under the Bill. It is not in any danger of extinction; as a matter of fact it is regarded as a pest and for that reason no protection is afforded. The badger is being fully and entirely protected under this Bill for the first time. It is given absolute immunity from hunting in all shapes and forms. The position of the otter is being very substantially improved in so far as hunting of this animal will only be permitted under licence granted by the Minister, and conditions may be attached to such licence. As regards amendment No. [124] 64, as I said, the breeding places of all protected animals are also protected. So, on reflection, Senator Higgins will, I feel sure, come to the conclusion that the Bill has already gone a long way to meeting the points about which he is worried.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I am grateful to the Minister for the distance he has gone in the Bill. I am sorry if I have misled people as regards the badger. I can see that there particularly the Bill goes a very great distance. I should like to seek further clarification. These three amendments would, of course, effect the conditions of granting licences. It is precisely for that reason that they were put down. The Minister has indicated that he would be willing at any stage to consider the conditions that might change for the granting of such licences. The Minister has referred to the fox as a pest. This is a matter of some controversy in zoology at present as to whether the fox is, on balance, a pest. Studies carried out by Dr. Fairlie in particular, and others indicate that from the stomach contents of foxes that they may, in fact, be eliminating a number of things which assist the very people who level accusations against the fox. I must welcome the fact that the badger is, for the first time, protected. The otter is probably even more maligned than the fox because, here again, what has been as a substitute for real evidence has been, very often, folk belief: that it is the otter who is a danger to different species of fish. The substantial body of scientific opinion again would suggest that the speed with which the otter can move in water enables him only to move at a speed which would be equal to that of a diseased fish. The pattern by which an otter must attack fish indicates that it does not destroy fish totally. In the breeding habits of otters it is only probably twice in its entire lifespan that the otter destroys fish in the manner generally believed. These matters of controversy as regards zoological scientific evidence may be cleared up, and I welcome the Minister's assurance that if and when these matters are established, we would reconsider the conditions [125] for the granting of licences. That would be acceptable to me.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I can assure the Senator that the Bill is drafted in a flexible manner. Authority given to the Minister confers on him certain discretion and enables the Minister to have regard to the state of knowledge available at any particular time when he is making an order or taking any step under the Bill. For example, the fox is now regarded as a pest and has been so regarded for many years, but if it should appear that the fox has a part to play in the wildlife world, it is a simple matter to transfer him from one Schedule under the Bill to another and protect him.

The Senator says that the otter very rarely kills fish. My information is that the otter is very rarely killed because he is too smart for the dogs and they very seldom catch up with him. I understand that sometimes an older, sick or decrepit otter may be caught. I am glad the Senator accepts that the Bill has dealt to a large extent with the point he has raised.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I move amendment No. 65:

To add to the section a new subsection as follows:

“(4) The Minister may attach conditions to any licence issued under this section for the purpose of preventing the infliction of undue suffering on any animal.”

Yesterday we had discussion at some length on the principle of coursing, and by a large majority the House decided to maintain the Bill as it stands and to accept that coursing is a sporting activity which ought to be allowed to take place. I have no intention of resuming this aspect of the discussion. I feel from the point of view of both those who oppose the principle of coursing and those who support it, the Minister would be well advised to accept this amendment. [126] The aim of the amendment is to add to section 26 a new subsection saying that a Minister may attach conditions to any licence issued under this section for the purpose of preventing the infliction of undue suffering on any animal.

There have been allegations, which were repeated in perhaps unduly emotive terms in the course of the debate yesterday, that there is on occasion cruelty inflicted in the running of coursing meetings. This has been denied by those who support this sporting activity. I am satisfied that the Irish Coursing Club and all those who go to coursing meetings have not the slightest desire to witness cruelty and that they are willing to co-operate in every possible way to ensure that it does not occur. I have no doubt but that the Irish Coursing Club do their utmost to see that coursing is conducted without the infliction of undue suffering on any animal. But there appears to be some evidence that on occasions there is the infliction of undue suffering on animals. There is also the problem that those who oppose coursing tend to feel that even though people are endeavouring to prevent acts of cruelty the Irish Coursing Club are an interested party. In the absence of an amendment such as this one, you are never, in practice, going to convince the anti-coursing faction that adequate steps are being taken to put an end to all possibility of cruelty.

From the point of view of the Irish Coursing Club it would be a great advantage for them if they were able to say when allegations were made against them—whether they were justified or not—that the Minister had laid down conditions which had been adhered to. If they were not being adhered to the Minister would take action and, if the Minister in a particular case had not taken any action, then it could be taken that no undue cruelty had taken place. From both sides of this argument it would be of great advantage to bring the Minister in in the way it is proposed in this amendment.

The Minister has pointed out—he is perfectly right in this and one must [127] accept his point—that, generally speaking, this Bill is not designed to deal with cruelty to animals; it is designed for conservation. But I put it to the Minister that in certain instances in this Bill, where he is brought into the matter by the terms of the measure, he does provide that there shall not be imposed undue suffering on any animal. As he has involved himself in that question of coursing or hunting of otters and stags, since he can licence these activities, the same principle applies. I refer the Minister to section 23, subsection (7) (b) which deals with the capturing of an injured or disabled protected wild animal for the purposes of killing it humanely. He has added the word “humanely”, and one must agree with this; nonetheless here the element of prevention of undue suffering to animals is brought in. One could refer to section 34, subsection (4) (b) also, which says that the Minister may by regulations declare a trap, snare or net which is of a particular type, class or description to be approved or not approved, as the case may be. Obviously there are various considerations which compel the Minister to lay down regulations for traps, snares, nets and so on, but the Minister will agree that traps and so on must be of a nature which do not impose undue suffering on any animal. Here is a case where, again, the Minister has brought himself into the ambit of cruelty to animals by preventing undue suffering.

Section 35, subsection (5), provides that the Minister may grant licences to persons to use as a decoy a live wild bird which can be used only for the hunting of birds of the same species. Subsection (5) (b) states:

the bird while being so used shall be regularly provided by the holder of the licence, or by someone on his behalf, with ample food and water and shall, when caged, only be kept in a case which is of sufficient dimensions to enable it to move and exercise freely.

This, again, has nothing to do with conservation. It is a very desirable [128] provision made by the Minister to prevent undue suffering to the birds. Therefore, the Minister has rightly accepted in this Bill the principle that once he has inserted provisions for issuing licences, he should, where necessary, lay down conditions in such licences for the prevention of undue suffering. In an analogous way he should do the same in section 26. The acceptance by the Minister of this amendment would not merely be supported by those who oppose coursing but it would also be of considerable advantage to those who are in favour of coursing—the Irish Coursing Club, in particular—in enabling them to fend off allegations, whether justified or not, that they are carrying out their sporting activities in a way which is inflicting undue suffering on certain animals. I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The amendment proposed by Senator Yeats proposes to insert a subsection in section 26 which would enable the Minister to attach conditions to any licence issued under this section for the purpose of preventing the infliction of undue suffering on any animal. That is a general enabling power. The Senator, in speaking in support of it, has sought to confine it to coursing.

The powers to regulate coursing are conferred on the Irish Coursing Club by another Act and Senator Yeats, I think, in the course of his remarks expressed confidence in the Irish Coursing Club as being a responsible body who carry out their duties in a responsible way. This club has been in existence for a long time and even prior to being strengthened by legislation it acted in a responsible way and was held in the highest respect by all sections of the community.

As I say, Senator Yeats's amendment is an enabling amendment which seeks to give the Minister power to enforce conditions. I do not think it is necessary, and I do not know whether Senator Yeats adverted to section 9 of the Bill before putting down his amendment. Section 9 reads:

[129] The Minister may attach conditions to any licence granted by him for any of the purposes of this Act or of regulations made under this Act, vary such conditions and revoke any such licence other than a licence granted by the Minister under section 29 of this Act.

I put it to the House that the Minister can do any of the things under section 9 which Senator Yeats would enable him to do under this amendment. That is clear beyond doubt.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  Only for the purposes of this Act.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That means any licence under the Act. It could not mean anything else. I put it to the Senator that in view of the provisions of section 9, his amendment is unnecessary.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  We have been told that the purpose of the Bill is mainly conservation. In so far as this seems to be departing slightly from the purpose of the Act, there is no harm in accepting this amendment. Perhaps there is some doubt or ambiguity here. If so it would be safer to accept the amendment rather than reject it.

I urge the Minister to consider this amendment. A number of views have been expressed by Senators, particularly on amendment No. 51, proposed by Senator M.D. Higgins, and I agree with many of these views. I think coursing is a very cruel sport and I find it difficult to understand how one can justify some of the events which take place at coursing meetings. The arguments put forward in defence of these meetings, as far as I am concerned, were not very convincing.

I agree that this Bill is not the right Bill to attempt to completely abolish coursing. I agree with the Minister that the main purpose of the Bill is conservation and that the arguments made against coursing were mainly made on the grounds of cruelty. Having regard to the very widespread support which coursing has, whether one agrees with it or not, it would necessitate a special Bill to actually abolish it.

Having said that, every effort [130] should be made to meet the very strongly held views of those who believe that it is a very cruel sport and every effort should be made to minimise the cruelty. Indeed those who opposed the amendment put down by Senator M.D. Higgins nearly all agreed that there was some element of cruelty, that the hares suffered inevitably on many occasions, but they believed the Irish Coursing Club were doing what they could to minimise this element of cruelty. There is an area of agreement among those Senators who support coursing that efforts should be made to minimise cruelty.

What has been suggested is that the Minister should have certain powers. It is true that the Irish Coursing Club have responsibility and also that they exercise their powers and responsibilities in a very serious manner. Nevertheless it must be realised that the Irish Coursing Club have a vested interest in coursing. In certain situations where regulations or methods are suggested to minimise cruelty the clubs will have to weigh the interest of continuing coursing in a manner which will appeal to coursing enthusiasts against the other arguments. Because these clubs have a vested interest and cannot be entirely objective about this matter, it is correct that the Minister should have certain powers to attach conditions to the granting of a licence.

I am sure he will not have to use these powers very often. There may be certain clubs which have a bad name and about which complaints are made. It is very appropriate in such a situation that the Minister has the power to attach conditions in respect of certain clubs about which he has doubts regarding their compliance with the regulations.

As Senator Yeats said, this would be in the interest of certain clubs as well. At present, if the Minister hears a report that a certain club should not receive a licence because they are indulging in certain malpractices, in exercising his powers in a responsible way he can refuse to issue a licence. Therefore it would be a much more acceptable and flexible arrangement if [131] the Minister was able to say in certain cases that he was not going to issue a licence to a particular club except on certain conditions because of reports made to him. Therefore, from both points of view, from the point of view of those who are concerned mainly with minimising cruelty and from the clubs' point of view it is desirable that this amendment be accepted.

I believe that public opinion will change in regard to coursing. Many sports which were acceptable in the past are no longer acceptable because public opinion found them too cruel and consequently they went out of favour. In due course I think that public opinion will not tolerate coursing. In that kind of situation and in the changing climate of public opinion it is appropriate that the Minister should have power to move with the times, if it is not fair to move a little bit ahead of the times. This amendment would give the Minister these powers. Perhaps the Minister will never have to use them. Perhaps the coursing clubs will move with the times and he will have no need to use these powers. But I believe he should have them. If there is any doubt whether the Minister has this power already under section 9— and it seems there is some doubt— then nothing is lost and there is no harm done in saying positively that, in regard to the issue of licences to coursing clubs, the Minister will have the power to attach conditions.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I listened with interest to the contribution by Senator Eoin Ryan. He told the House that he was not convinced by the arguments of Senators who spoke yesterday in favour of coursing. As far as I can recollect, Senator Ryan was not present for yesterday's debate and I fail to see how he can adjudicate on them.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  The Chair must point out that reference to the presence or absence of a Senator on any occasion is to be strongly deprecated.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  As the point has been raised, I was present during the debate.

[132]Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  Hear, hear.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  For the entire debate?

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  For every single contribution.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  The Chair has already indicated that this matter should not be referred to and that Senator Deasy should proceed to discuss the amendment.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The lack of knowledge which Senators have concerning this subject is amazing. I am adamant that this lack of knowledge has an unfair effect on people involved in coursing and on the Irish Coursing Club in particular. The anti-coursing lobby has been very slow to refer to other types of cruelty. I am sure there are instances of this lobby indulging in cruelty which is much worse than that experienced in coursing. For instance, hanging paper for catching flies must cause suffering while the fly is dying.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  We have to start somewhere.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  People in glasshouses should not throw stones. A vast number of people are involved in causing cruelty on a far greater scale. In defence of the Irish Coursing Club, I should like to point out that the two greatest abuses in coursing have been largely eliminated and they are doing everything within their power completely to eliminate these abuses. The first type of cruelty is that which is known as blooding. This involves a greyhound owner throwing a young rabbit or young hare to the hounds to give them the taste of blood and an incentive to chase the hare at a coursing meeting. That is a positively revolting act. It may be of interest to the Senators to know that the Irish Coursing Club is against it and has initiated a number of prosecutions against people who have been found to indulge in this practice. Some leading figures and members of their families in the coursing world have been prosecuted by the Irish Coursing Club for this type of activity. It says a lot for them that they can prosecute major figures in the sport. Blooding [133] used to be done on a widespread scale, but, due to the vigilance of the Irish Coursing Club, it has been eliminated to a great degree. I hope it will be eliminated completely.

The second abuse is one I referred to while speaking on amendment No. 51. It is the selling of hares after a coursing meeting to another club which then proceeds to course the hares again. This did not give the hare a fair chance. That system has been outlawed. As an incentive to stop this practice, the Irish Coursing Club now pay £5 for each hare released after a coursing meeting. As the hare is tagged, it has to be released if it is caught again.

Those are two major abuses. They have been tackled and they have been largely eliminated. The Irish Coursing Club are doing everything in their power to see that cruelty is eliminated.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Section 26 deals with giving licences for stag hunting, otter hunting, beagling and coursing. Yet this discussion on this amendment has confined itself entirely to coursing—the only sport mentioned in the section which is already controlled and regulated. It shows what a pressure group can do and it shows what an emotional matter coursing has become.

Senator Ryan, in the course of his contribution, stated that I should have power to differentiate between coursing clubs in the granting of licences. Presumably he means that I should grant licences to clubs who conduct their business properly and in a humane manner, and refuse licences to other clubs. Senator Ryan is asking me to take responsibility for patrolling and controlling coursing meetings. I am not prepared to do that. Subsection (3) of section 26 says:

The Minister may, on an application made by any coursing club which is affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club,

As far as I am concerned the test will be whether a club is affiliated to and [134] recognised by the Irish Coursing Club. The Irish Coursing Club is the body charged with issuing licences and supervising coursing meetings. If the powers held by the Irish Coursing Club need to be strengthened, they should be strengthened in a measure other than this.

I agree with Senator Deasy that there have been abuses in the past. There were hares coursed on a number of occasions on the same day— they were brought from the escape back to the slip—but I understand that that has been outlawed, that very strong measures have been taken in that regard and that coursing meetings are supervised and the whole business has been improved. The photograph of the dogs killing the hare is the one we invariably see in the newspapers. That is bad news as far as the anti-coursing lobby is concerned and, of course, bad news is big news. The hare escaping is never photographed.

I am not prepared under this measure to take power to patrol or control coursing. In doing that I would be cutting across powers already conferred on another Department and on another body. I should also like to make it clear that what we are dealing with here is minimal. It will not be necessary under this Act for a coursing club to obtain licences to course throughout the year from the Minister for Lands. It will only be necessary for a coursing club to obtain a licence to course in a close season which, in effect, is the tailend of the coursing season—a couple of weeks in the month of March. We can course away to our heart's content between October and February without any reference to the Minister, but clubs will still be controlled by the Irish Coursing Club. That is the position and that is what is involved in this.

Having said all that, I am satisfied beyond doubt that section 9 is wide enough to enable me to impose the conditions suggested by Senator Yeats. I will read section 9 again:

The Minister may attach conditions to any licence granted by him [135] for any of the purposes of this Act...

The purposes of this Act are mainly conservation. But one of the purposes would be to permit coursing in certain circumstances in the close season. I would be able to impose conditions on that licence. There can be no doubt about that.

This Bill is a conservation Bill. We have carried forward many of the provisions contained in the Game Preservation Act, 1930. That was a very enlightened Act, having regard to the fact that it was enacted over 40 years ago. I am not prepared to take powers that would cut across and duplicate the control of coursing. If the Minister for Lands is to control coursing and the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, through the Irish Coursing Club, is to control coursing, it could fall between two stools. It is much better to have the control placed fairly and squarely in the hands of one Department and one Minister.

The necessary power is contained in section 9 to enable me to do what Senator Yeats suggested.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I do not propose to follow Senator Deasy down the path he has followed with regard to the rights and wrongs of coursing. The Minister has said that the discussion on this amendment has dealt all along with coursing and not with the other forms of hunting listed in this section. When I was drafting my amendment I had them in mind. Because there has been so much discussion about coursing—it is obvious that this subsection interests the majority of Senators—I thought it better to simplify the issue and refer to it. But I had those other matters in mind also.

Senator Deasy spoke of action taken by the Irish Coursing Club to deal with abuses. I accept the bona fides in these matters. I have no doubt that they have done a good deal to cut down whatever cruelty exists. There is a difference between action taken by the coursing club and action taken under conditions laid down in a licence by the Minister. Senator Deasy pointed out that certain cases of blooding [136] had actually been prosecuted by the ICC under the law relating to cruelty to animals. There are many other examples of cruelty, such as the rerunning of hares, which they have tried to deal with but where they are defenceless under the law.

If the Minister lays down conditions to a licence under section 69 of this Bill breach of these conditions is an offence. Therefore, were the Minister to lay down conditions for the carrying out of coursing or the hunting of otters, stags and so on, then breaches of these conditions would be offences and could be prosecuted. It would make it easier for the ICC to control such matters. It may often happen that individual members of clubs break the rules of the ICC. I imagine that the Coursing Club would be very unwilling to disqualify or disaffiliate an entire club because of the mis-behaviour of one individual. This could take place in circumstances in which the club concerned was not really responsible. There might be no negligence on their part. If one individual carried out procedures which were cruel and contrary to the rules of the ICC, there is not much they can do in such a case. But where there are conditions laid down by the Minister that particular person would commit an offence. This would be a considerable incentive to people to see that the rules were abided by.

In my amendment I stated that the Minister may attach conditions to any licence. As the Minister pointed out yesterday, “may” in this particular case really does means “may”. It does not mean he has to. I am not suggesting that the Minister be forced to lay down conditions, but merely that he should have the power to do so. While he may feel it is not necessary at the moment, at some time in the future this Minister or some other Minister, might feel that some conditions were required for the issuing of licences for the matters relating to section 26.

However, the Minister has said that section 9 gives him ample power. I looked at section 9 before drafting this amendment and I did not think it did. I was of opinion that the provisions [137] would have to relate strictly to conservation rather than matters such as cruelty to animals. However, the Minister says he has the power under section 9 to do what I asked him to do in this amendment, so obviously there is no point in pressing the amendment. I urge the Minister to reconsider this matter and to consider whether he ought not lay down conditions under section 9 to prevent undue cruelty to any animal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 26, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 66:

In page 23, subsection (1), line 12, to insert “, or for any other reason (which reason shall be specified in the order),” after “or elsewhere”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendments Nos. 66 and 67 are related and may be taken together.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Section 27 deals with the temporary suspension of open seasons for hunting for reasons of very severe weather. Such conditions not only impose considerable hardship on wildlife and wild birds especially, but they may also in fact lead to serious decimation of game stocks. It would clearly be undesirable to allow shooting and other forms of hunting to continue in such circumstances and section 27 provides the remedy for this. However, apart altogether from the situation of adverse weather conditions there could well be other justification for temporarily closing down an open season—for example, excessive hunting generally in particular areas with resulting threat to one or more game species. This amendment is intended to cater for situations other than those arising from severe weather. However while the suspension of an open season by the Minister due to weather conditions will be evident to all, similar action taken by him for other reasons might be less readily appreciated. The final part of the amendment provides that the reasons be set out in the suspending [138] order. The proposed official amendment of section 27 more than meets Senator McGlinchey's point and I presume he will agree to withdraw his proposal. In any event, the Senator's amendment may not go as far as might be necessary—for example, to meet the exceptional situation of an outbreak of disease in certain species or in a particular area.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 67 not moved.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I move amendment No. 68:

In page 23, line 15, to delete “one month” and substitute “ten days”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendments Nos. 68 and 70 are related and may be taken together.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I am at a loss to know what Senator McGlinchey means by changing the wording from a month to ten days. I am quite satisfied with one month. Ten days is a very short period.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): While I have some sympathy with the underlying idea in this amendment the time limits proposed are too short and I am unable to accept them. As the House will be aware, the section is being amended to cover situations other than those arising from severe weather. In such circumstances the Minister will have to indicate his reasons for suspending an open season. This, I feel, is a more important facet of the matter than the actual duration of the suspension and is, I understand, acceptable to the shooting fraternity. Under the section, the Minister will be enabled to suspend the open season in the first instance for a period not exceeding one month, and he may extend that to a period not exceeding two months. He can, of course, suspend it for any lesser period. He could suspend it for ten days, but he has power to suspend it for one month in the first order or to extend the order to two months.

Senator McGlinchey wishes to confine the Minister to suspending the open season in the first instance for [139] ten days and to confine the extension to 20 days. That is too short especially in the case of disease or anything like that. The Minister has a discretion here which I am sure will be used in a reasonable manner.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 69:

In page 23, subsection (1), to delete lines 17 and 18 and substitute the following:—

“specified, the hunting of—

(a) any protected wild bird which is of a species specified both in an order under section 24 of this Act and in the order under this subsection, or

(b) any exempted wild mammal which is of a species specified in the order under this subsection.”

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This is purely a drafting and a very technical amendment. The amendment is merely to clarify that the protected wild birds in question are those which fall into the category of game species, that is, wild birds to which an open season order under section 24 of the Bill applies.

I should perhaps point out that section 27 as it stands necessitates an amendment of section 3 of the Firearms Act, 1964, and this is accomplished under section 65 of the Bill. However the amendments of section 27 now under discussion do not necessitate any further alteration in section 65. It is purely a drafting amendment to make the intention clear.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 70 not moved.

Section 27, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 71:

In page 23, subsection (1), line 44, to delete “Subject to subsection (3) of this section, a” and substitute “A”.

[140]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): With the permission of the Cathaoirleach I propose to take amendments Nos. 71, 73 and 76 together.

The purpose of section 28 is to establish the categories of “qualified persons” who will be able to hunt game species with firearms in accordance with the licences granted under section 29. As section 28 stands, and bearing in mind the definition of “hunt” in section 2 of the Bill, it would mean that a person would have to be qualified in the manner set out in subsection (2) in order to indulge in any type of hunting even where firearms were not involved— stag hunting or beagling. This, of course, was never the intention. The amendments will effect the original intention to establish the categories of qualified persons who may hunt with firearms. Accordingly, subsection (3) is being deleted as is the reference to it in subsection (1). The amendment in line 45 is to make clear that it is hunting with firearms that is in question here.

The Government amendments meet Senator Higgins' amendments Nos. 72 and 77.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 72 and 77 are related to Nos. 71, 73 and 76, and therefore they may be taken together.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  The Minister has rightly pointed out that the spirit of amendments Nos. 72 and 77 is met in what he has just said by way of reply. In fact, I was proposing quite the opposite to the last amendment, that is, that no qualification applies to the power the Minister seeks under section 27, line 34. I am satisfied.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 72 not moved.

Government amendment No. 73:

In page 23, subsection (1), line 45, to insert “with firearms” before “hunt”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 74 not moved.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I move amendment No. 75:

[141] In subsection (2), page 24, lines 7 to 9, to delete paragraph (d).

I move the amendment since Senator McGlinchey is not here. I am not in a position to speak on it. The Minister might like to reply.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I regret that I am not prepared to accept this amendment. The general provision in paragraph (d) is necessary, for example, to cover categories such as departmental technical staff who may have to engage in the hunting and killing of fauna as part of their official duties. These people would not be comprehended by the other categories listed in subsection (2). If the amendment is prompted by fear on the Senator's part that the paragraph is open to abuse, I would draw his attention to the fact that the introduction of additional categories under paragraph (d) is dependent on the making of regulations and I regard this as an adequate safeguard against any possible abuse of the provision in question because the regulations will have to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Government amendment No. 76:

In page 24, lines 10 to 13, to delete subsection (3).

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 77 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 28, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  To a lay man the drafting of these Bills can create a problem. I am not sure if I am speaking under the proper heading. Who is entitled to shoot over various lands? I would like to ask the Minister what rights have foreigners and tourists who come here to shoot? Do we deal with them under this section? Can we speak about them on this section? Has the Minister any control over them?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Of course the ordinary laws of trespass would apply to tourists the same as anybody else.

[142]Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  As regards shooting?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): We deal with them under another section but we have tightened up the position very considerably here in regard to tourists, that is, foreigners. Not alone have they to have a firearms licence, but they have to have a permit issued by the Minister for Lands to enable them to shoot. We deal with that under another section.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The abuses which might arise as regards killing fowl or wild animals probably arise due to lack of control over people who go hunting, be it with firearms or whatever, who are licensed and can go hunting. Anybody who has a licence to shoot, or to hunt, should be a member of a game club, or a gun club, and that club could then control that member.

Look at the greyhound industry. The ICC control the clubs and the clubs in turn are responsible for their members. As regards people with licences to shoot, there does not seem to be this restriction. Any individual can go out and pot away at anything that is not protected. I feel there should be a little more control in this regard.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I support Senator Deasy. There is a great game potential in this country and it could be used very effectively to help tourism. The Senator was right when he said there is a lot of indiscriminate shooting. This often puzzles me. Can the Minister make inquiries into how some hotels and some guesthouses, and so on, can advertise free shooting and not specify where the lands are? Some of these people seem to take a chance. They invite in tourists and confer on them the right to shoot in places where they have no authority.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I confess to a mild fascination at the comments of Senator Dolan. He seems to be reluctant to invite people here to shoot. Obviously he is not reluctant to invite people in to course hares.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  As far as shooting is concerned, there is such a thing as a game licence and a game season. If [143] people were members of gun clubs, and so on, we could increase the stocking rate and could create a tourist attraction. As Senator Higgins said, there may be cruelty in it. I admit that. I suppose there is cruelty in any way in which an animal is shot or killed. We must accept that.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I would not be prepared to go as far as making it obligatory on sportsmen who wanted to shoot, or obtain a licence under section 29, to become a member of a gun club. Before a person will be entitled to get a licence under section 29, he must be entitled to sporting rights, or be authorised by the owner of sporting rights, to use those sporting rights. In other words, he will not be entitled to a licence as a poacher. He will not be entitled to get a licence to shoot game unless he owns land and sporting rights, or unless he owns sporting rights apart from land, or unless he is authorised by the owner of sporting rights to use those sporting rights.

So far as visitors are concerned, the whole position has been tightened up. We will be dealing with this under another section but I might say here that, in order that a native may be legally entitled to shoot deer, he must not alone have a licence from the Garda or the Department of Justice, but he must also have a permit from the Minister for Lands. Such a native will not require a permit from the Minister for Lands to shoot, what I call, game—for want of a better word— other than deer. A visitor will be obliged to obtain a permit before he is entitled to shoot game here. Before he gets that permit, he will have to establish, to the satisfaction of the Minister for Lands, that he has made reasonable arrangements and is not coming on “spec” to shoot anything he can see, that he has arrangements made for a shooting holiday.

In regard to the point raised by Senator Dolan about hotels advertising free shooting, they can advertise free shooting, but they cannot avail of it unless they have made arrangements with the owner of the lands, or [144] the owner of the shooting rights. We should not invite unlimited numbers of visitors to shoot. We can accommodate a limited number of visting shooters, but no more than that. The fact that some hotels advertise free shooting is to be deplored and I know Bord Fáilte have also taken action on this matter. We have already taken measures to control shooting by visitors and my Department since, I think, last April, issue licences to visiting sportsmen. That is an innovation. The situation will be further strengthened under the Bill. We are fully conscious of the abuse by foreign visitors in regard to shooting. We welcome them here, provided they come having made arrangements for their shooting holiday, and the Bill through its licencing provisions provides for that.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  In regard to the control the Minister would have over water and trespassing on lakes, it is now a common practice for people to book boats, come up large stretches of water, shoot indiscriminately and carry off their prey. There does not seem to be any way of preventing this. The landowners can do nothing.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I will be dealing later on in the Bill with provisions in regard to lakes and water.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I want to refer to the statement the Minister made about visitors and the licences which his Department issue to them. He should be very careful about how many and to whom these are issued because I imagine quite a few of these people may not have licences in their home country. They may just be, as we might call them, mavericks coming over here for a good time and firing at anything. It is difficult to control this type of person or to bring him to heel when he breaks the law.

For instance, a tourist may bring his car to this country in summertime. If he breaks a speed limit or a parking regulation, we may whistle for him to appear in court and be fined. The Garda authorities generally let these matters drop. Similarly if these hunters from abroad break the law—[145] and there have been reports that it has been done—the chances that they will be prosecuted are very slight. I suggest to the Minister that any foreigner who is getting a licence should be reputable and, if possible, have a licence in his own country and have a recommendation to that effect.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I would like to clear up this point. Up to 1st April last, if a visitor coming here came overland, he got a game licence at the Border from the customs people and was at liberty to shoot away to his heart's content. If he came by air, or sea, he was entitled to get what I call a game licence at the airport or the port at which he disembarked. That was changed as from April last. He must now get a permit from the Minister for Lands before he is entitled to shoot game here. One of the questions asked and checked up on is whether he holds a hunting licence in his own country. If he comes without notice he will not get a licence. That was welcomed as a major advance by the regional game councils and the sporting press. It was under consideration for some time.

Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman:  Government amendments Nos. 78 and 84 are cognate and may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 78:

In page 24, subsection (2), line 23, to delete “The” and substitute “Subject to section 75 (1) of this Act, the”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): With the permission of the Cathaoirleach I will take amendments Nos. 78 and 84 together. These amendments are simply to rectify an editing error by inserting this necessary qualification as in the case of subsection (1). I might say that section 75 (1) refers to the power of the courts to revoke fire arms certificates or hunting licences and disqualify the holders in the event of their conviction of certain offences under the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

[146]Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I move amendment No. 79:

In page 24, line 30, after “applies” to add “The Minister may under this subsection grant a licence which shall be limited in duration to the period of time available to the licence holder to pursue game in the State”.

In view of the Minister's explanation of section 28, I feel I could safely withdraw this amendment. The Game Council feel that a limited licence at a reduced fee is desirable for out-of-State visitors to ensure that unauthorised shooting cannot take place outside the duration of the licence. Perhaps the Minister might comment on that for the benefit of the Game Council.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The Senator's intention here is clearly to provide for short-term licences for visitors. I am not satisfied that this arrangement is warranted. Moreover, their introduction would not find favour with Bord Fáilte and indeed may well on discrimination grounds be contrary to the spirit of EEC membership. Visitors will normally come here to shoot only once or twice during an open season. We already have secured a large degree of control over these visiting sportsmen. The real issue is not when or for how long they come, but rather to ensure that the arrangements made by them for game shooting are bona fide. The provisions of section 29 will strengthen the existing control system and enable conditions to be attached to a licence where necessary. Apart from all this, under the Bill the hunting licence for the native and visiting shooter will be co-terminous. Both will terminate on 31st July. This represents a substantial improvement on the existing situation in relation to firearms certificates under which all certificates issued to residents expire on 31st July, whereas those issued to non-residents run for a period of 12 months from the date of issue. All in all, the proposals in the Bill represent substantial progress in the long-standing “resident versus non-resident” controversy and, for the present at any rate, I would not agree that there is a need to go further by introducing short-term [147] licences for non-residents. Therefore, the amendment is not accepted.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 80 and 86 are related and may be taken together.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I move amendment No. 80:

Before subsection (3) to insert a new subsection as follows:—

“(3) The Minister shall grant a licence under subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section only if he is satisfied, as a result of a test which he has caused to be carried out, that the applicant for the licence is competent to use firearms”.

I am in complete agreement with Senator McGlinchey's amendment. It is only right that before a licence is granted some test should be carried out to prove that the applicant is competent to use firearms. It is necessary to take a test and get a driving licence before a person is allowed to use a car. Some qualification should be necessary to permit a person to use firearms.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I support Senator Ryan in this because very often accidents take place because of carelessness on the part of a person carrying a gun. The hammer is cocked while he goes through hedges and other people may be placed in danger because of this carelessness. I should like to know if there is any law preventing the holders of game licences from carrying loaded guns on public roads.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I am not disposed to adopt what I might call the Senator's doublebarrelled proposal. The conditions of firearms and competence in their use would be more the concern of the Department of Justice than of my Department. The furthest my Department could go would be to act in relation to guns used only in game shooting. I am not satisfied that the introduction of such a system is warranted at this stage. The matter is [148] primarily one of educating and training young or novice shooters, and I would prefer to see the organised shooting interests devote some attention to this sector rather than to impose statutory obligations in the matter.

We are confusing two issues here and getting our wires crossed. Everybody will have to get a licence from the Department of Justice to possess or use a gun. If any controls or tests are to be imposed, it is at that end it should be done. My Department are interested only in game and the conservation of game. The Department of Justice and the Gardaí are responsible for the control of firearms and for the issuing of licences.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 81, 82, 85 and 89 are related. They are Government amendments and may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 81:

In page 24, subsection (4), to insert “or renewed” after “granted” both in line 37 and in line 39.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): As amendments Nos. 81, 82, 85 and 89 are interrelated and, having the Chair's permission, I will now take them together. They are designed to provide, firstly, that licences granted by the Minister under subsection (4) may be renewed by him and, secondly, that such renewed licences shall continue in force for the same period and operate in the same manner as the original licence granted under subsection (4). I should say that the licences—and, therefore, the renewals—in question are those which the Minister will grant to resident sportsmen to hunt game animals such as deer, under subsection (1), and to visitors to the State to hunt game birds or game animals, under subsection (2).

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 82:

In page 24, subsection (4), lines 40 and 41, to delete “person to whom the licence is granted” and [149] substitute “holder of the licence”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 83:

In page 24, subsection (5), to delete lines 45 to 48 and substitute the following:

“Where a person applies to a Superintendent of the Garda Síochána for the grant under section 3 of the Firearms Act, 1925, of a firearm certificate or the renewal under section 9 of the Firearms Act, 1964, of such a certificate and when making the application for such certificate or renewal the person makes a declaration referred to in subsection (1) of this section, the certificate shall, if it is endorsed in”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This amendment is necessary in order to cater for the renewal of firearm certificates granted by a superintendent of the Garda under section 3 of the Firearms Act, 1925. In the context of this subsection, the firearm certificate and its renewal will be in respect of shotguns being used by residents of the State to shoot game birds and hares.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 84:

In page 24, subsection (5), line 51, to insert “to section 75 (1) and” after “subject”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 85:

In page 25, subsection (6), lines I to 3, to delete all the words in the subsection after “the holder of the licence”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 86 and 87 not moved.

Government amendment No. 88:

In page 25, subsection (9), lines 30 to 34, to delete all the words in the subsection after “effect as” and substitute “a licence under this section”.

[150]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This amendment is being made to rectify a misunderstanding about my intentions in relation to reciprocal recognition of licences to hunt dealt with in subsection (9). It was not my intention that such reciprocal recognition should extend beyond the normal game hunting licences granted under this section but, as drafted, the subsection would permit of reciprocal recognition of special licences to hunt for educational, scientific and other purposes granted under section 22 (7), on page 20, lines 13 to 33, and under section 23 (6), on page 21, lines 23 to 25. Hence the proposed deletions referred to in this amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 89:

In page 25, subsection (10), line 35, to insert “or renewed” after “granted”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 29, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I move amendment No. 90:

In page 25, line 55, after “lake” to add “Provided that this subsection shall apply only to land covered by water, whether foreshore or inland”.

I am not sure what this relates to. It may have something to do with the shore line and the authority of the State to prevent a person from shooting on it.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I think the three Senators sponsoring this amendment may be disposed to revise their views when I remind them that the foreshore and other land referred to in section 30 is confined to foreshore and land owned by the State. The National Association of Regional Game Councils also had some misgivings about the effects of this section. I think they were afraid that slobland shooting would be totally eliminated. However, when it was explained to them that the underlying objective here was to control shooting on the areas in question by operating on the basis of a [151] permission to be given by the Minister —through a system which would give due recognition to traditional bona fide shooting practices in such areas—their fears were allayed. I suggest that this explanation ought to suffice also for the three Senators concerned in this amendment.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I assume that all shooting on the foreshore is eliminated?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): No. Under licence, with permission from the Minister. We are speaking about foreshore owned by the State, which is practically all foreshore.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The foreshore comes under the authority of the Minister for Transport and Power generally.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I understand there is some privately-owned foreshore but it is minimal.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I cannot think of any more dangerous practice, which is fairly widespread, than shooting on the foreshore with a 22. Will that practice be eliminated?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The effect of the section is to ban shooting on the foreshore unless under permission granted by the Minister.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  There will have to be specific permission for shooting on the foreshore?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That is correct.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  That is encouraging because at present it is a very dangerous practice for people standing on the foreshore shooting across the water at seagulls because the bullets could ricochet off the water. Would that ban also include the shooting of unprotected wildlife which are included in the Third Schedule?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): All fauna is included. The section seems to be designed to meet the points made by the Senator.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The section mentions State-owned and privately-owned. For example to whom would the foreshore along a lake belong?

[152]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I do not want to interrupt the Senator but “foreshore” would not apply to inland waters, it only applies to the sea.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 30 agreed to.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 91 and 92 are Government amendments and may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 91:

In page 26, subsection (1), line 3, to insert “, purchase or have in his possession” after “sell”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Section 31, as drafted, is confined to control of the sale of certain live perching wild birds other than those which are bred in captivity and fitted with a close-ring as fledglings. However, for this control to be effective the purchase and possession of such birds must also be controlled. The amendment is primarily aimed at achieving this control. At the same time, it is realised that many such birds may be held by aviculturists and others when the Bill becomes law and these people would, therefore, on the enactment of the Bill, be automatically guilty of the offence which they could not have foreseen. This would be unreasonable and, moreover, the only way in which they could put themselves within the law would be to dispose of the birds by killing them or by releasing them into a strange environment. Neither course is desirable. For that reason it is proposed to exempt the possession of birds of the kind mentioned which are held prior to the passing of the Act and the amendment so provides. The exemption, in the case of each individual, will, of course, cease when the particular birds held by him come to the end of their natural lives.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  It raises an interesting question, how do you tell the age of a goldfinch? A person who had one in a cage could say he was ten years old and he might only be six months old.

[153]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That does not arise under the section or the amendment.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I thought the amendment states that in any proceedings for an offence under the section it shall be a defence for the defendant to prove that he lawfully acquired a relevant perching bird before this section becomes law.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): It would be a defence if he could show that he had.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  That is what I am saying. If the person said the goldfinch was 10, 15 or 20 years old how could it be proved otherwise?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I would not be interested in its age as long as it was established that the person owned the bird before the Bill became law.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  According to that section then it would not be an offence to keep a bullfinch in a cage? Presumably we will see the end of roadside signs advertising goldfinches and so on for sale?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Not provided he was bred in captivity. In other words if he were bred by his owner it is all right.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Yes, I quite understand. The sale of all common birds in captivity at present will be stopped?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): No. It will not be an offence for a person to retain caged birds provided he had them when the Bill became law and it will not be an offence for him to rear birds in captivity and retain them, but it will be an offence for the person to catch wild birds.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  With the exception of those in the Third Schedule, and that appears to include a bullfinch——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Apparently it covers birds once they come into the category of perching birds, to distinguish them from other birds.

[154]Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  ——which is not a species specified in the Third Schedule so a bullfinch would also be included.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 92:

In page 26, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following new subsection:

“(3) In any proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be a defence for the defendant to prove that——

(a) he lawfully acquired the relevant perching bird before the commencement of this section, or

(b) he lawfully acquired such bird from a person who so acquired it before such commencement.”

Amendment agreed to.

Section 31, as amended, agreed to.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 93 to 97, inclusive, are related and may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 93:

In page 26, lines 15 to 19, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:

“(1) It shall be an offence for a person, otherwise than pursuant to and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister for the purposes of this subsection, to attach any band, ring, tag or other marking device to any wild animal or wild bird or to take by net, trap or by any other means any such animal or bird for the purposes of attaching to it any band, ring, tag or other marking device.”

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): These amendments are intended to extend the provisions of the section to wild animals. Since the marking and tagging of wild animals is also a common feature of wildlife research, I consider this provision desirable.

Amendment agreed to.

[155] Government amendment No. 94:

In page 26, subsection (4), line 27, to insert “wild animals and” after “apply to”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 95:

In page 26, subsection (4), line 29, to delete “wild” and substitute “animals and”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 96:

In page 26, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following new subsection:

“(5) A licence granted for the purposes of subsection (1) of this section may be expressed, and if so expressed shall operate, to authorise the doing of, within an area or areas specified in the licence, and only within such area or areas, the things permitted to be done by the licence.”

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The basic object of section 32, as now being amended, is to confine the ringing and so on of wild birds and wild animals to suitably qualified people who are licensed by the Minister for this purpose. Normally I would expect that licensed ringers could be authorised to operate throughout the country generally; but as there may sometimes be locations of special sensitivity in which any disturbance of wildlife even by licensed ringers engaged in research should not be permitted, a power to circumscribe the scope of a ringer's operations is desirable. This is the reason for this amendment. In other words, the Minister is taking power to confine the operation of a ringer to a given area or, perhaps more accurately, to exclude his operation from a specified area.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  There is no mention of fish?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Generally speaking, fish do not come within the scope of this Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 97:

In page 26, subsection (5), line 31, to delete “section 22 or 34” and [156] substitute “section 22, 23 or 34”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 32, as amended, agreed to.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 98, 99 and 100 are related and may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 98:

In page 26, lines 32 to 37, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:

“(1) It shall be an offence for a person to kill or injure—

(a) with a repeating or automatic shotgun (other than a repeating or automatic shotgun which is adapted or modified so as to render it incapable of carrying more than three shotgun cartridges), with an airgun, air-rifle, gas-rifle, pistol or revolver, or with any firearm fitted with a silencer device, any wild bird,

(b) with a rifle, any protected wild bird.”

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Section 33 deals with restrictions on the use of certain firearms and ammunition against wild birds and wild animals. This amendment is designed first to remove the rifle—other than the gas-rifle or air-rifle—and the punt gun from section 1, and to include in it the airgun, pistol and revolver.

The proposal to remove the rifle is in consequence of the proposed amendment to delete the word “protected” from the subsection. The new subsection (1) (a) envisages the deletion of the word “protected” so that the subsection will embrace all species, protected or otherwise. What is at issue in this subsection generally is the restriction of the use of unsuitable or undesirable weapons. To confine this restriction to protected species does not go far enough, and as well as that to allow such weapons to be used against unprotected fauna would clearly make enforcement of the law more difficult.

The proposal to delete the “punt gun” from the existing subsection (1) [157] is prompted by consideration of representations that have been made to me that punt gunning is an art which is now practised in this country by only a few wildfowlers. However, while the type of gun is undeniably indiscriminate in its effects, it has been represented to me that the numbers of birds taken by this method are not as great as critics of the sport sometimes claim. If the need to control or abolish this form of shooting arises in the future it can be dealt with under the powers conferred by subsection (4).

The proposal to include in subsection (1) the airgun, air-rifle, gas-rifle, pistol and revolver is prompted purely by consideration that these weapons should not be used to kill or injure fauna. The inclusion of the airgun necessitates a definition and this has been done, by way of amendment, to section 2.

The new subsection (1) (b) caters for the rifle which, as I said already, is being taken out of subsection (1). The amendment makes it an offence to shoot protected wild birds with a rifle—already defined in subsection (5). Thus, the use of a rifle other than a gas-rifle or an air-rifle against vermin species of wild birds will not be unlawful and it would be an unwarranted restriction on farmers and so on to make it so. As regards animals, other than birds, the types and calibres of rifles will vary according to the species being hunted and this aspect will be dealt with by way of regulations under subsection (4). In this connection, a primary objective will be to prescribe appropriate weapons and ammunition for deer shooting.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Does this cover shooting wildquest, pigeon and so on with telescopic rifles?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): It does. That is the intention.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Is it allowed?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): No, it is not allowed.

Amendment agreed to.

[158] Amendments Nos. 99 and 100 not moved.

Government amendment No. 101:

In page 26, subsection (2),. lines 38 and 39, to delete “a protected wild bird or a protected wild animal” and substitute “any wild bird or wild mammal”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This amendment is prompted by the same considerations regarding weapons mentioned in subsection (2).

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I move amendment No. 102:

In page 26, line 43, to delete “other than a hare”.

In the absence of Senators Ryan and Garrett, I offer only my own reason for putting this down. It is one of clarification. Section 33, subsection (3), has the words “it shall be an offence for a person to kill or injure with a shotgun a protected wild animal other than a hare”. Why are the latter four words in line 43, “other than a hare”, necessary? If it should be an offence for a person to kill or injure with a shotgun a protected wild animal, one could always put “hare” in or out of the Schedule later on.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Senator Higgins probably realises that it is not customary in many parts of the country to shoot hares. That is one thing that is strictly observed in my part of the country. You do not shoot hares even though hares are included on your game licence. It is considered unlucky to shoot them, and so they are being preserved. This subsection seems to give leave to shoot hares, probably because they are included on the game licence. We would oppose it.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The hare has been regarded in the category of game since 1930 at least, and the use of shotguns for hunting it has been permitted. The effect of the proposed amendment would be to make it an offence to kill a hare with a shotgun. I do not think anybody really wants this effect, even though [159] the shooting of hares by Irish sportsmen is not very common. Hare shooting may be of greater appeal to outsiders but I do not believe it is engaged in by them to an extent which would be detrimental to the conservation of the species. The question of making hare shooting with a shotgun illegal was discussed in some detail between my Department and organised game interests and they concluded that, on balance, such a course would not be warranted. I agree with that conclusion and I do not, therefore, propose to act on the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 103 and 104 are related and can be taken together.

Government amendment No. 103:

In page 26, subsection (4), lines 46 and 47, to delete “protected wild birds and protected wild animals” and substitute “wild birds and wild mammals”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): These amendments are to enable regulations to be made under subsection (4) for either protected or unprotected species. Here again the objective will be to prescribe the most appropriate weapons and ammunition for use against various species of wild birds and wild animals with emphasis on the humane factor.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 104:

In page 26, subsection (4), line 49, to delete “animals” and substitute “mammals”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 33, as amended, agreed to.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 105 and 116 are cognate and may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 105:

In page 26, subsection (1), line 52, to insert “but subject to section 42” after “section”.

[160]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): These amendments are to include a necessary cross-reference to the things permitted by the Minister to be done under section 42, in the protection of certain property from damage by protected species of fauna. It is for administrative purposes.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 106:

In page 27, subsection (1), line 2, to delete “or similar device or instrument,” and substitute “, arrow, dart, spear or similar device, instrument or missile, or”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 107:

In page 27, subsection (1), line 16, to insert “, or facilitate the capture of,” after “injure”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This amendment is to meet a point which has been brought to my notice and which I accept as valid; that is, that a stupefying bait or other substance of that kind could render a wild bird or animal unconscious or immobile, without necessarily causing it any injury, in the generally accepted sense of the word.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 108:

In page 27, lines 20 to 30, to delete subsection (2) and insert the following:

“(2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to or render unlawful—

(a) the affixing, placing or setting of a trap, snare or net which for the time being stands approved for the purposes of this section by virtue of regulations under this section,

(b) the taking or killing by means of any such trap, snare or net of any wild bird which is not a protected wild bird or any wild mammal which is not a protected wild animal.”

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The reason for this amendment is twofold. The first and main reason is to [161] ensure, as originally intended, that any trap, snare or net lawfully used against non-protected as well as protected species must be an approved one; that is, approved by regulations made under subsection (4). This is a very necessary provision aimed at eliminating the availability of inhumane traps and so on which might be turned to unlawful use against protected species.

The second part of the amendment, that is the deletion of the existing paragraph (b), is merely because the paragraph is unnecessary. In any permission granted by him under section 42 the Minister can give a direction as to the method of capturing or killing including, if considered necessary, the use of poisonous, poisoned or stupefying baits.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Regarding the use of traps in forests by the Department, is there any specified time limit that this animal would be left in the trap? Are traps often placed indiscriminately and left overnight? It can happen that an animal can be caught there all night appealing for help.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): While this hardly comes within the Bill, I understand that traps set in forests are inspected regularly. Live animals or birds found in them are released or otherwise disposed of.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  The subsection being removed by the amendment was intended to eliminate cruel methods of trapping. Will the removal of this subsection result in any protection against the exposure for sale as opposed to actual usage of such traps? I ask this in order to clear up a number of later interventions.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Possession of the trap is outlawed and it would be impossible to expose it for sale without possession.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I do not intend to have a protracted discussion on this. Traps already outlawed are exposed for sale. It is not possible to possess them lawfully. Officially some things can be bought and unlawfully [162] possessed. A section embracing exposure for sale would be more complete in its effect.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): If the Senator will refer to subsection (6) of section 34 he will find it deals with the point raised by him:

Any person who imports, other than pursuant to and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister in that behalf, or who in the course of his trade or business sells a trap, snare or net which pursuant to subsection (4) of this section is for the time being declared by the Minister to be a trap, snare or net to which this subsection applies shall be guilty of an offence.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 109:

In page 27, subsection (3), lines 35 to 37, to delete “which, by virtue of regulations under this section, for the time being stands approved for the purposes of this section”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This is merely a drafting point. The words being deleted are superfluous in view of subsection (2) (a).

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 110:

In page 27, subsection (3), lines 38 and 39, to delete “restocking” and substitute “propagating”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This is also a drafting point. I am satisfied on reflection that the word “propagating” in lieu of the word “restocking” is more meaningful and appropriate in the context.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 111:

In page 27, subsection (3), lines 40 to 42, to delete paragraph (b) and substitute the following:

“(b) the capture alive by means of nets of hares by or on behalf, or at the request, of a coursing club affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club,”.

Amendment agreed to.

[163] Amendment No. 112 not moved.

Government amendment No. 113:

In page 27, subsection (3), lines 46 and 47, to delete

“, by means of an arrow or dart carrying a stupefying agent or muscle relaxant”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Amendment No. 113 is aimed at including in the exemption under licence from the prohibitions in subsection (1) the use of traps, snares and nets in research, scientific or educational activities. Indeed, I can illustrate the need for this amendment by mentioning a very important research study at present being carried out by officials of the Forest and Wildlife Service on the pine marten. An essential part of the study involving the humane capture of specimens with suitable nets is also an integral part of ornithological studies.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 114:

In page 27, subsection (3), line 49, to delete “habitat” and substitute “habitat, or to a place specified in the licence”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): It has been represented to me that the word “habitat” might not cover other places to which live captured animals may be lawfully and reasonably removed. A case in point would be the recapture of a stag after a stag hunt and his return to a privately owned herd on enclosed land.

Mr. M.D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I want to make the point about the legal phrasing of the term “habitat, or to a place specified in the licence”. This acknowledges that the place other than habitat in which the stag would be kept is an artificial location. The relating of such place to the licence itself implies that the activity for which the animal is being detained outside of its habitat is a curious or artificial activity in itself. It is almost an admission of a point defeated by a number of other amendments.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That may be. I understand that the [164] places where these stags are housed or provided for are comfortable. While an argument might be made against hunting, no possible argument could be made against the treatment they receive during their leisure hours.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 115:

In page 28, subsection (7), line 10, to insert “or section 23” before “of this Act”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This amendment is simply to repair an inadvertent omission.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 34, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 116:

In page 28, subsection (1), line 13, to insert “but subject to section 42”, after “section”.

Amendment agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendments Nos. 117 and 118 are cognate and related and, therefore, may be taken together.

Government amendment No. 117:

In page 28, subsection (1), line 20, to insert “protected” before “wild birds”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This amendment relates to subsection (1) (c) which restricts the use of certain decoys in the form of wild birds for hunting purposes. It is not the intention that this restriction should apply to the hunting of vermin, grey crows, pigeons, and so on, and the amendment will permit the use of such decoys for that purpose. The Government amendment meets the same amendment put forward by the Senators.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I move amendment No. 118:

In page 28, line 20, before “wild birds” to insert “protected”.

[165]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The amendment is covered by the Government amendment No. 117.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  May I ask if it is legal to use decoys for duck shooting?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): No. The amendment permits them for vermin but not for game birds or protected birds except wild duck and wild geese.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 35, as amended, agreed to.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Business suspended at 12.30 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.


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