The Green Party Bill as promulgated by the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Culture and moved as a Government Bill, was passed by Dail Eireann on 29 June 2010 and will now go to Seanad Eireann for ratification before going to the President for signature and commencement as the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010.

The Bill repeals section 26 of the Principal Act which provided for the granting of a licence for staghunting, and has the effect of ending the life of the Ward Union Hunt, which has been the only staghunting pack of hounds in Ireland and which was formed 156 years ago. Section 3 (2) of the Bill effectively bans staghunting on horseback, and provides as follows:

(2) Subject to subsection (3), a person who hunts deer with two or more dogs shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) It shall not be an offence for a person on foot to hunt deer with 2 or more dogs, under and in accordance with—

(a) a licence granted under section 29 of this Act, or
(b) a permission granted under section 42 of this Act.

Section 4 of the Bill also corrects a legal lacuna in firearms licensing provisions introduced in 2009, whereby the requirement for a game licence as part of the firearms certificate was overlooked by the Department of Justice and the Garda Siochana when giving effect to new provisions.

Section 4 provides as follows>

Section 29 (as substituted by section 4 of the Firearms (Firearm Certificates for Non-Residents) Act 2000) of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (5)(a), by substituting “Subject to subsection (5A), where”
for “Where”, and
(b) by inserting the following subsection after subsection (5):

“(5A) (a) A firearm certificate to which this subsection applies shall for the purposes of sections 22(4) and 23(5) of this Act be deemed to be a licence granted by the Minister under this section and, subject to section 75(1) and to the restrictions contained in section 33 of this Act, such certificate shall, for so long as it is in force, operate to authorise the person to whom it is granted, with the firearm to which the certificate relates, to engage in the activities referred to in subparagraphs (i) and (ii) of subsection (5)(a).

(b) This subsection applies to a firearm certificate that is granted—
(i) in respect of a shot-gun, and
(ii) on or after 1 August 2009 but before 1 August 2012.

A further amendment tabled by Deputy Joanna Tuffy, Labour, which would have had the effect of ensuring that female deer could not be shot between May and September of any year under a Section 42 Permission, was not accepted.

The original Bill as drafted would have had the effect of prohibiting the hunting of deer with two or more dogs by ordinary deer hunters but was amended following representations by the Wild Deer Association of Ireland, fully supported by the Irish Deer Society and the Deer Alliance (as previously reported here). WDAI in particular are to be congratulated for their excellent work and sustained lobbying on this issue.

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