Former TD and Government minister Alan Shatter is a controversial figure, with his new book lambasting former government colleagues and his outspoken support for Israel.
While I would not concur with all of his political views and analyses, I will never forget the brave and principled stance he adopted when the late Tony Gregory moved his Private Members Bill to ban hare coursing in 1993.
Alan Shatter defied the Fine Gael party whip and voted for the Gregory Bill, which he knew was doomed to failure due to the Dail arithmetic.
Before voting, he delivered a passionate speech in which he rightly pointed out that a free vote on an issue like hare coursing would not have any adverse economic or social consequences.He didn't have to take that position.
He knew there wasn't any great electoral advantage to be gleaned by standing up for the gentle Irish Hare, an animal that can, in Ireland, be legally captured and set up us as bait for frenzied dogs to chase in a confined space.
He gained absolutely nothing in terms of political advancement by voting to end the terrorizing of Ireland's hares by a minority of so-called sportspeople. Far from it.
He was censured for not towing the official Fine Gael party line on hare coursing. Party colleagues guffawed and wagged recriminating fingers. But he showed that he had the courage of his convictions, whether one approves of his beliefs or otherwise.
He demonstrated on that occasion that it is better to take a decisive ethical stance on an issue, rather than seek, in the time-honoured tradition of political cynicism, to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
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