GARDAI were called to a coursing meeting in County Limerick at the weekend after a leading anti-blood sport campaigner claimed she was threatened by an individual who snatched her camera.
Aideen Yourell, a spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, contacted the Limerick Leader this week to say she had a video camera snatched from her by force on the public road outside a meeting of Ardpatrick and Kilfinane hare coursing club at Bulgaden, Kilmallock on Saturday.
She said that when ICABS monitors attempted to film the coursing from the public road outside the venue, where they had a clear view over the boundary hedge, “they were threatened and intimidated by coursers, one of whom had a large stick.”
“There was a group of men. They were coming around saying ‘you are not allowed to film’,” said Ms Yourell who said there were approximately 150 people at the meeting - “four or five” of which were hassling her.
“They started to get more menacing. There was a fella with a huge big stick and he kind of ran towards me. There was a fella saying, ‘You’re videoing me’ and I said, ‘God I’m not, I’m videoing the hares inside’ and I said, ‘Would you go away from me please’. Then this big, tall man ran at me, right up into my face. He didn’t use the stick, thankfully. It was there in his hand - it was one of those huge big, knobbly sticks, a right looking thing.”
Ms Yourell said she decided to get into the car and lock the door and call the gardai. “They started pulling at the car door so I called out the guards. They said they would send out a car when it became available. We decided to go at that stage.”
Ms Yourell and her friend later returned and Ms Yourell says she began filming from a high bank on a private roadway, with permission from the landowner.
She claims she was confronted by a courser brandishing an umbrella in a threatening manner. “He chased me to the car and was saying, ‘Give me that camera, give me that camera.’ I was trying to hold him back and throw the camera back into the car. We were pushing him but he was really overpowering us. He reached around where I was sitting and he got the camera and ran.”
Gardai were called to the scene, and later, the camera was handed into the garda station in Bruff. “It was minus the memory card,” said Ms Yourell who is based in Mullingar.
According to Ms Yourell she noted quite a number of situations where hares couldn’t access the escape.
When contacted this Tuesday, Tadgh Enright of Bulgaden who is chairman of the Ardpatrick and Kilfinane Coursing Club said he personally hadn’t witnessed any confrontation but had been made aware of an incident involving a camera. “It was later that evening that it was brought to my attention. The camera was found. It was given to the guard and he said he would return it to the owner. That’s all I can really say in relation to that.”
With regard to the comment about the hares, Mr Enright said: “We had a wildlife ranger attending our meeting this year. She was there Saturday and Sunday. She witnessed everyone of our hares being released on Sunday evening into the preserves where they were caught. She was very happy with the meeting. The president of the ICC (Irish Coursing Club) was there as well and everyone commented about how strong our hares were. We are very happy with the way our meeting went. I don’t want to see any hassle or anything like that.”
Inspector Luke Conlon, acting superintendent in Bruff confirmed that gardai did attend the scene. “The camera is with the owner. We didn’t receive an official complaint,” he said.