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Last Updated: Monday, 15 September, 2003, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK
Campaign to save Irish hare
Hare is chased by two dogs
Opponents claim hare-coursing is inhumane
A campaign to outlaw the hunting and coursing of the Irish hare is to be officially launched in Belfast on Monday.

The League Against Cruel Sports wants to end what it calls a "disgusting abuse of one of Ireland's native species".

The organisation will repeat the success of its previous Save Our Stags campaign, after deer hunting was declared illegal in Northern Ireland.

Chief Executive of the league Douglas Batchelor will outline the campaign in Northern Ireland to politicians and scientists.

Mr Batchelor will detail the league's plans and how it will begin a public campaign for the removal of the Irish hare from the quarry list and the granting of statutory protection in forthcoming legislation.

Also speaking at Monday's conference will be Alliance leader David Ford who led a cross-party campaign in the Northern Ireland Assembly two years ago to secure extra protection for the Irish hare.

Hunting ban

A representative of the Environment and Heritage Service will also be present, together with Irish hare campaigner Mike Randle and Trevor Long, chairman of Youth Link Northern Ireland.

The League Against Cruel Sports has campaigned in England, Scotland and Wales for a total ban on hunting with dogs, since it was formed in 1924.

Last month, a bill to ban hunting with dogs cleared the House of Commons, with the Tories failing to win compensation for those who may lose their livelihoods.

MPs had voted for the activity to be banned after the government was forced to abandon a compromise plan which would have allowed fox hunting to continue under licence.

The call for compensation came during a debate on the remaining stages of the Hunting Bill.

But MPs gave the bill, which makes no provision for compensation, a third reading by 317 votes to 145.

The result sets up another bruising battle with the House of Lords, which has opposed a hunting ban since Labour was elected with a pledge to allow a free vote on fox hunting in 1997.

The government has already said that hunting with dogs could be outlawed for good within two years.

In pictures: Hare coursing
28 Feb 02  |  UK News
Protest at hare coursing cup
26 Feb 02  |  England

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