HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE have signed an online petition calling for the removal of a fox-hunting internship from the JobBridge website.
A position for “first whipper-in” appeared on the Department of Social Protection’s Job Bridge website at the beginning of the month.
The position is available with Waterford Hunt Foxhounds, based in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford.
“The intern will gain practical experience in all aspects of venery, hound management, horse management, country preservation and preparation and veterinary care,” the post on the website reads.
The intern will receive formal/informal training in the following hound management, whipping in, etiquette.
On completion the intern will have attained skills in whipping in and will be positioned well to take up a position in hunt service as a whipper in and continue their training to take up the role of a professional huntsman.
Fox-hunting involves the tracking and chasing of a fox by trained hounds and a group of followers known as huntsmen.
The activity was banned in England in 2005 following pressure from animals rights groups – it is still legal and practiced in Ireland.
A whipper-in in fox-hunting is an assistant to the huntsman. The primary role of the position is to keep the fox-hounds involved in the hunt organised and focussed.
The Irish Council Against Bloodsports (ICABS) has protested against the inclusion of the position on the JobBridge website, saying that fox-hunting amounts to “barbaric cruelty”.
The organisation started an online petition, imploring people to contact the Department of Social Protection and ask them to remove the post. It had received 550 supporters at the time of publication.
“Many citizens will be astounded and appalled that their hard earned tax euros are going to fund this horrific animal cruelty,” the petition reads.
It is outrageous that the Department of Social Protection is subsidising animal cruelty. We call on the acting Minister for Social Welfare, Joan Burton, to intervene to have Waterford Foxhounds excluded from the JobBridge scheme.
ICABS goes on to say that the by allowing the internship to feature on the website, the Department of Social Protection are “in effect condoning and promoting the barbaric bloodsport of foxhunting” and “encouraging an unemployed person to become immersed in animal cruelty”.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Aideen Yourell of ICABS said that fox-hunting was “animal cruelty of the worst kind”.
“This is banned in England, Wales and Scotland and that the State is getting involved in subsidising a group involved in this is appalling,” she said.
Alan Morrissey, joint-Master of the Waterford Hunt, who are advertising the position, told TheJournal.ie that the role was “completely legitimate”.
“It’s an ongoing recruitment process and it’s backfilling an existing role that’s there,” he said.
We’ve been paying taxes and PRSI on any employee that was in… and we’ve a vacancy there and we’re looking to back fill it.
My view is that it is a completely legitimate role and the JobBridge scheme is there to be availed of to train and develop young individuals.
The Department of Social Protection said in a statement that it doesn’t comment on individual host organisations or internships.
“There are a range of occupations that some people may find objectionable for one reason or another,” the department said.
The Department does not act as an arbiter in these cases, but does, of course, make every effort to ensure that all internships comply with the Terms and Conditions of the scheme and all relevant legislation.