Attempts to ban fur farming set to be renewed in the Dail in September

Published by Laura Matjusaityte on

July 25th, 2018

The Green Party has called on the Minister of Agriculture to support a Bill to ban fur farming in Ireland once the Oireachtas returns from its summer break.

In September, the Solidarity Party will present a Bill to ban fur farming before the Dail, with the Green Party fully supportive of the proposed ban according to the party’s spokesperson on Animal Welfare, Pippa Hackett.

A phased ban on fur farming supported by the Greens in 2009 was “not seen through by subsequent governments” Ms Hackett said.

“While other European countries have since banned fur farming, Ireland has instead kept them open,” added Mr Hackett, herself an organic farmer in Co Offaly.

Ms Hackett said that the Green Party has high hopes for the cross-party to be built in the Dail to support the ban on such an “antiquated and barbaric sector”.

“Unfortunately, some parties in the Dail have a poor record on animal welfare issues, and succeeding in implementing a ban may be difficult,” she added.

In 2012, then Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, TD told RTE that the industry is not much different from any other form of intensive farming.

In 2012, a Department of Agriculture review of fur farming indicated that there were five active fur farms in the country, with between 200,000 and 225,000 minks between them.

The National Animals Rights Association (NARA) reports that three mink fur farms remain in operation today with an estimate 200,000 minks killed annually.

“We’ve been campaigning to ban fur farming for many years now, but this year’s campaign is more focused than ever,” NARA spokesperson, Laura Broxson told The Green News.

NARA has been organising weekly protests outside of the Department of Agriculture and the campaign has led to four TDs proposing questions in the Dail to ban fur farming with “many other voicing their support”, Ms Broxson said.

Minks are solitary animals by nature, however, in the farms, they are forced to live amongst other minks, which often leads to self-harm and cannibalism, according to NARA.

The latest fur farm inspection report carried out in 2017 for the Department of Agriculture found that minks kept in cages in fur farms “appear to be content and happy”. The report states that caged minks destined to be gassed to death at the age of six months showed no signs of stress.

Aideen Yourell, a spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS), told The Green News that the Council team “saw no such happiness and contentment in this hellish place of horrors”.

“This is nothing but torture for these wild animals and when we visited one of these hell holes [fur farms] in the Midlands, we saw these poor minks leaping up and down frantically in cages, exhibiting stereotypical signs of severe stress,” Ms Yourell added.

ICABS has called for all parties and independent TDs to support the Bill to ensure that Ireland follows other European  in banning “this barbaric industry”.

“Ireland has a very poor record in how it treats animals, while boasting that it is a modern, progressive country, but, sadly, we are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to animal welfare,” Ms Yourell said.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said that mink farming is undertaken in a wide range of European countries and there “are no plans to introduce a ban in Ireland”.

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Laura Matjusaityte

Laura is a first-year journalism student at DIT. She has an interest in the environment, veganism and literature.