A Belturbet Town Councillor who has been hunting with beagles and harriers all his life told a council meeting this week that the 'Dublin four set' won't come down to stop him and the other huntsmen from going out on the high hills of Breifne for a good old tally-ho.
Cllr. Seamus Fitzpatrick said that generations of his family had been hunting, fishing and shooting and in fact he was hunting with beagles and harriers from the tender age of ten. The outspoken councillor explained to the other members: "God made man and man made money. God made the bees and the bees made the honey. He also made the hares to run the grass and the devil made the hounds to catch them by the arse."What he termed country pursuits had been going on for centuries. "This included hunting with beagles, coursing, fishing and shooting. Now Minister Gormley is wagging the tail of the government and endeavouring to bring in legislation to ban certain country pursuits such as stag hunting. This will be the thin edge of the wedge."
His motion calling for a letter to be sent to sent to John Gormley on the matter, outlining the council's objections to his proposals was seconded by John Scott. He wants country pursuits left intact.A number of councillors said they did not wish to be associated with the motion including Paddy Brady, Peggy Gray and Elizabeth McDermott. Fianna Fáil's McDermott said she did not like to see any cruelty to animals and Michael Lee also was against the motion. However the motion was passed on a show of hands by a narrow majority. Those in favour of the motion to write to Minister Gormley included Seamus Fitzpatrick, Raymond Johnston, Tony Gorby, the chairman John McDonald and John Scott.
Cllr. Fitzpatrick said they should contact all the local TDs in regard to this matter.
Paddy Brady said he did not agree with a stag being let out on land he did not know and was hunted through barbed wire fences and chased by a pack of hounds and cornered. "I do not agree with the fear of god being put into an animal and chased till it is exhausted - then it is pounced up by 50 or 60 hounds."
Seamus Fitzpatrick said the hunting people were the real conservationists and when a hare gets tired, they have the knowhow to call the dogs off her. The huntsmen will hear the word "that one has had enough". They will be able to get the hounds run off the trail.Paddy Brady said: "You mean to tell me that when an exhausted hare is lying in the corner of a field on all fours and can't get out of there - and there are 50 hounds in close proximity - and they are going to be in a position to pull the hounds off - I'm sorry, I can't believe that. You are telling me that they will be able to control the hounds from attacking that hare - not a chance."
Seamus Fitzpatrick said if Gormley was allowed his way, then the island of the Celts, which were hunters and gatherers, will be destroyed. He did not understand how people like the minister could say that you can't put animal against animal, yet they were bringing in white tailed eagles at a cost of €0.5 million to catch the hares.
He said these were the boys who cycle to work with the big Mercs coming behind them.
Cllr. Scott said they should have a meeting with Minister Gormley when he comes down to open the Belturbet Fire Station and the sewerage plant and put it on the line "what our feelings in this matter are".