Fox hunting, animal rights and vaccine inequality


Animals have never had rights: It’s official

OUR problem goes back to the rise of the animal rights movement in the 1970’s. This absurdly titled movement spawned the criminal and environmentally disastrous activities of an army of urban sociopaths, cranks and thought police, which reached its zenith and then thankfully waned in the first decade of this century. 

But the damage that they caused is an enduring legacy which is not confined to the environment, but also the emplacement of a mindset of collective ignorance among the urban population.

Based upon the absurdly anthropomorphic assertion that animals have rights, here in Ireland these guys objected to mink being farmed for their fur and liberated hundreds of them. One of these predators swam to an off shore island and killed two hundred nesting sea birds (the entire colony) in one night. They are now out of control. 

In a protest against alleged animal cruelty these narks once dropped hundreds of drawing pins on a road to injure foxhounds before a foxhunt in County Antrim. 

And another protest against hare coursing was attended by two men who had previously been convicted of sectarian murder. And the false notion that animals have rights has lead to the emergence of The Cats Protection League and a major increase in the number of cats homes. 

This has led to a cataclysmic decline in our local wild birds in the last thirty years, and there is now nowhere safe for any ground nesting species to rear their chicks. Eighty per cent of them have disappeared and are facing extinction.

And since the decline in hunting and dog fighting, dogs have decreased in value. They are not properly controlled and are now a serious health and safety problem. And every year somewhere in Britain or Ireland at least one child is mauled to death by the family canine pet.  And the real issue behind this Stormont Bill is not the cruelty endured by the prey that is pursued by the dog, and certainly not driven by public health and safety concerns, environmental control or the safety of children. But rather it is nothing other than a patronizing and moralizing gripe that the dog owner enjoys the experience.

Do they really not know that since life crawled out of the sea and colonized the land in the Devonian period 400 million years ago, not one herbivore has ever had a happy death?

Jack Duffin, Belfast 

Oscar Wilde was bang on the money when it came to fox hunting

THOSE politicians who voted against the fox hunting bill must surely know, that while they are sleeping off their Christmas indulgence, preparations to hunt and kill animals in the most vile way possible are commencing. 

Fox hunting, stag hunting and all the other horrors that are visited on vulnerable and totally defenceless animals remain a blot on any landscape, yet the two big parties here have given the green light for it to continue. The hunt is not a ‘sporting’ day out, it is a game of deadly pursuit whereby the fox or any other unfortunate creature the hunters decide to pursue is chased to the point of exhaustion, before being mauled to death or torn to shreds.

The myth perpetuated that the dogs are trained to kill with just a nip to the back of the neck, is just that. 

Many post-mortem examination carried out on foxes show that the animal died from profound trauma inflicted by multiple dog bites, other such investigations show many animals are disembowelled during the ‘sporting’ day out.

Those who take part in this totally unethical enterprise defend their continuation with out-dated and defunct arguments such as, the fox being killed is most unfortunate aspect of our wee day out, killing foxes is vermin control, the fox escapes to live another day, hunting culls the old, weak and infirm foxes. 

Hunting foxes with dogs is all about the kill. In cases where the fox should escape underground the hunters will send terriers down to flush it out, in other cases they deploy their staff to go out pre-hunt and block up any means of escape; why are we often treated to the obscene sight of a hunter holding a dismembered fox like a trophy, if they view its death to be an unfortunate consequence of their fun day out?

The vermin control argument was put to bed by a Westminster inquiry into the hunting with dogs. Maybe on this topic, those who persist with this argument could explain why they too breed foxes, and attract foxes by building artificial earths?

Their reasoning for killing old and weak foxes may sound touching, but it is as fabricated as all the other offerings. A hound will pick up any scent during the chase, they will not discriminate between old, sick or young and healthy.

Unlike those who hunt these animals to death for some sort of incomprehensible gratification, a fox at any age will only hunt to eat.

When Oscar Wilde described those who partake in these loathsome gathering as the ‘unspeakable’ he was on the money. I wonder what word he would use to describe those who gave carte blanche for them to continue?

Nuala Perry, Belfast 13

Vaccine inequality must end

AS we come to the end of another challenging year the focus at home this Christmas is on getting the population a booster vaccine to protect against Covid, and in particular the new Omicron strain. 

While richer nations are ramping up their Covid-19 vaccine booster programmes, people in the world’s poorest countries are still almost completely unprotected. 

The most recent WHO figures show that 66% of people in high income countries have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine compared to only nine per cent in low-income countries. The Africa Center for Disease Control says that in many countries on the continent, including where Trócaire works, the vaccination rates hover at around one per cent. This inequity is a shocking injustice. 

The emergence of the Omicron variant of the Covid virus has highlighted how very limited access to vaccines in low-income countries means that more mutations will inevitably emerge. Vaccine inequity drives health and economic crises globally. The UK, Ireland and other European states must support a waiver on intellectual property on Covid vaccines at the World Trade Organisation.   

The waiver would temporarily lift patents and copyright on Covid-19 treatments and vaccines that would allow their production to be radically increased. This is the long-term sustainable solution to this global crisis. We will need vaccines and treatments for several years to come and to respond to new variants as they arise. Pharmaceutical companies currently have too much power and control over where Covid-19 vaccines are produced and at what price. The profit made by vaccine companies is astronomical. Do we care more about profit than human lives? The impact of vaccine inequity is stark. Tens of thousands of people are still dying each week. Billions of people are still unable to access a lifesaving vaccine. New variants are likely to undermine vaccination programmes and endanger us all.  

As we look forward with hope to 2022 we must remember that no one is safe until we are all safe. The science is clear: the fairest and most effective way to end this pandemic is to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to Covid-19 vaccines.   

Yours faithfully,  

Siobhan Hanley,  

Trócaire, Belfast


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