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Irish staghunt celebrates court victory

IRELAND'S HUNTING community was celebrating an unexpected victory last week after The Dublin High Court granted an interlocutory injunction in favour of the Ward Union Hunt against the staghunting licence Environment Minister John Gormley issued to the hunt.

The injunction effectively suspends the current licence, issued on 19 December 2007, which is the subject of a judicial review before the same court.

Chairman of the Hunting Association of Ireland Gavin Duffy said: ‘The Ward Union could go out hunting this afternoon. It is an unexpected victory for us as we had thought we would have to wait to get the terms of last year's licence reinstated.

‘This allows the Ward Union to hunt for the last three weeks of the season.’

The Ward Union hunts a ‘carted stag’, meaning they release and recapture unharmed deer bred in captivity by themselves in the course of the day's hunting.

Licence for this activity has to be agreed by the Environment Minister but the licence issued by Mr Gormley to the Ward Union in December limited them laying a trail with a stag and capturing the stag before the hounds are released. Hunt members said this was an impossible constraint upon them.

Speaking after the High Court decision, Ward Union Chairman Oliver Russell said: ‘We now await the direction of the court, but in granting the injunction the current licence is suspended so we now understand we operate under the previous licence which grants us permission to hunt deer in the traditional manner.

‘We are losing a minimum of £3000 per week because of this unworkable licence and remember we need funds to maintain our conservation programme of Irish Red Deer.

‘We all welcome the suspension of that unworkable licence during the review.’