‘Cancer doesn’t distinguish whether you’re a hunting person or not’: Limerick man

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

‘Disappointed’: Cllr Bill O’Donnell

‘Disappointed’: Cllr Bill O’Donnell

THE IRISH Cancer Society refusing a donation from the Abbeyfeale Harriers is “a slight on country people and country living,’ said Cllr Bill O’Donnell.

The annual hunting festival, which takes place on both sides of the Limerick-Kerry border, has picked the Irish Cancer Society as their chosen charity for the last number of years.

However, this year the charity has asked festival organisers not to send them donations after receiving a number of complaints. The Abbeyfeale Harriers hunt foxes on foot.

The Irish Cancer society issued a statement in which it said: “Following contact from a number of cancer patients and supporters who were upset about the Abbeyfeale Harriers annual hunting festival, the society requested that the organisers do not send a donation to the society that is generated from fox hunt activities.”

A member of the harriers told Radio Kerry that the group were “disappointed” with the charity’s decision and described the annual event as a “great social occasion".

Last week’s Limerick Leader featured a story on cancer patient John O’Keeffe. The Ballingarry man, who is a member of the County Limerick Foxhounds, organised a charity hunt before Christmas.A total of €7,000 was raised on the day and John divided the money between the Mid-Western Cancer Centre and Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

John said the decision by the Irish Cancer Society is “tough” on the Abbeyfeale Harriers. 

“They have made an effort to organise and put in an effort to try and give money to charity. It is fairly disappointing. I went back to the hunt a few times myself over the years.  Cancer doesn’t distinguish whether you’re a hunting person or not,” said John.

A representative of the Mid-Western Cancer Centre came out to collect his cheque at the presentation night in Condron’s bar in Ballingarry.

“After I gave over the cheque I had one more session in University Hospital Limerick. I thought I would slip in and out without anybody knowing it but they were all thanking me. They have given me incredible care over the years and I wanted to give something back,” said John.

Cllr Bill O’Donnell said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision taken by the Irish Cancer Society.

“I’m disappointed for them and those who benefit from the charity as I believe that they are now alienating themselves from a large section of Irish society, most of which is rural-based and especially people who participate in rural activities to include field sports.

“I doubt that they are so well-funded that they can ignore the benevolence of people involved in field sports. Indeed, it is something of an insult to people that have participated in field sports all their lives in tandem with fundraising for the Irish Cancer Society and equivalent organisations,” said Cllr O’Donnell, who is also a member of the County Limerick Foxhounds.

“Cancer research and care for those affected by cancer needs every cent it can get and while I agree that it may be inappropriate for the Irish Cancer Society to refuse donations from tobacco and alcohol companies I do not see a similar logic applied to those involved with field sports,” concluded the Bruff-based councillor.