Actor Gabriel Byrne has lent his support to the campaign to ban hare coursing.
The Golden Globe winner wrote to TDs urging them to outlaw the practice of netting and capturing hares for muzzled greyhounds to chase in competition.
“It’s hard to imagine anything more barbaric than this so-called ‘sport’,” the star of Vikings and The Usual Suspects said.
“From the terrifying chase, during which hares have been known to rupture internal organs fleeing the hounds, to the moment the petrified and exhausted animals are surrounded … every minute of hare coursing reflects the hard-heartedness of the participants.”
Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan brought proposed laws before the Dail last week to ban the sport.
It is the first time in 23 years that attempts to outlaw the sport have come before parliament and is publicly supported by the Green Party and Independent TD Clare Daly.
Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein refused to back it, as did Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys, who warned the sport is integral to many rural communities and underground or unregulated coursing could be a greater danger.
The Government a lso argues there is no evidence that coursing has a significant effect on the hare population.
Byrne said he was writing to TDs on behalf of “friends” in two animal rights groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and Animal Rights Action Network (Aran).
He said: “Coursing is an atrocity that should have no place in modern Ireland, which is why it should be banned.”
Coursing is banned in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, and Ireland is now one of only three European countries where it is legal.
Official records of capturing of hares for the 2014-15 season found 99.3% were released in a healthy condition after coursing.
Actress Pauline McLynn is among others who have lent their support to the campaign.