Irish Independent

Stags 'saved for another day' as annual hunt called off

PLACARD-wielding hunt saboteurs had an unexpected Christmas bonus when two of Leinster's biggest hunts failed to go ahead yesterday.

Dozens of anti-hunt protesters turned up at Kells and Ashbourne in Co Meath to show their opposition on what is traditionally the biggest hunting day of the year.

But the saboteurs were delighted when St Stephen's Day events, run by the Meath Fox Hounds and The Ward Union Stag Hunt, were cancelled - although the reasons for cancellation were not immediately clear. The Ward Union Stag Hunt, which usually meets in Ashbourne, is the only stag hunt in the country.

"The stag was saved for another day. I was up half the night making banners, but that doesn't matter. The main object is to stop the cruelty," said Bernie Wright of the Association of Hunt Saboteurs.

Ms Wright said the hunts' non-appearance could have been a reflection of the push for a fox hunting ban in England, as the hunts here attempt to keep a low profile. However, the treacherous road conditions may have played a big part.

Ms Wright added that saboteurs will continue their campaign until the end of the hunting season in March.

Anti-bloodsport campaigners here are gearing up to fight for a complete ban on all hunting with dogs, including coursing.

Meanwhile, in the south-east, the Waterford Foxhounds held their annual meet in Tramore, Co Waterford which passed off virtually incident-free.

Up to 35 hunt saboteurs, led by John Tierney, gathered outside the Majestic Hotel on the quay front to watch some 50 huntsmen, women and children gather at around 11am.

Mr Tierney said that as the hunt left there had been "a bit of pushing and shoving from both sides, but nothing serious".

Sarah Murphy and
Bernie O'Toole

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