The Usual Suspects star, 66, penned a letter begging Irish politicians to ban the hunting of hares with hounds ahead of a vote in the Irish Dail (parliament) on Thursday (30Jun16).

The proposal to ban the practice was put forward by independent Irish parliamentarian Maureen O'Sullivan, but is not backed by the Republic of Ireland's government.

In his letter to the politicians Gabriel writes, "It's hard to imagine anything more barbaric than this so-called 'sport'. 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."

The actor goes on to argue, "Hares are gentle sensitive animals with the same capacity to feel pain and to suffer as that of any dog or cat we might share our home with. Coursing is an atrocity that should have no place in modern Ireland, which is why it should be banned".

Coursing, which sees a dog, usually of the greyhound or lurcher breeds, chase the hare until it catches and kills it, is illegal in the U.K. and many European nations but is still a popular countryside pursuit in Ireland.

Other Irish stars to call for the practice to be made illegal include 1992 Eurovision Song Contest winner Linda Martin and Father Ted actress Pauline MCLynn.