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Justice finally served – New Bill signals the end of fur farming in Ireland

Published 1 year ago 30th June 2021 by Jamie O’Flaherty

A Tipperary actor says justice has finally been served following the news that the new Animal Health and Animal Welfare (Amendment) Bill 2021 will be drafted into legislation shortly meaning the end of fur farming in Ireland.

Rachel Pilkington, (The Clinic, Glenroe, Fair City), told The Premier that the practice of fur farming violates most of the ‘five freedoms’ which underpin animal welfare best practices.

Rachel pictured outside government buildings in 2014 with her submission

“From the moment mink are born into captivity, the intrinsic value of these sentient beings fails to be recognised. By nature, they are semi-aquatic and solitary mammals who are denied all basic rights to expression, dignity and freedom by being confined to small cages, in groups, for the duration of their lives. They exhibit many stereotypical behaviours synonymous with stress until they are finally dragged from the cages in terror and forced into darkened, overcrowded gassing boxes to be poisoned to death by carbon monoxide gas. No amendments to the government’s current ‘code of practice’ will ever eradicate or alleviate the suffering of these animals. No amendments will ever excuse or justify it as a farming practice. To validate such cruelty on the grounds of economic profit or gain is utterly shameful,” said Rachel.

The Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, announced on Tuesday that the Government had agreed to draft the Bill. There are 120,000 mink left in the country, spread across three mink farms in counties Laois, Donegal and Kerry.

The ban was the result of a comprehensive consultation process, in which the strength of public opposition to the fur industry was noted.

“Numerous animal rights groups and hundreds of individuals have been actively seeking a ban on fur farming in Ireland for years now.

So finally, justice is served! I started my own campaign back in 2012 to help raise awareness and place a greater spotlight on this deplorable practice.

I presented a 13-page submission to Simon Coveney who was the Minister for Agriculture at the time. Then I returned with an updated petition when Michael Creed became minister – that included the names of 400 high profile Irish personalities from the worlds of film and television, sport, entertainment, fashion and music.”

Rachel’s son Noah (when he was only 6) outside the Department of Agriculture.

Among them were Oscar-nominated actors Saoirse Ronan, Ruth Negga and Stephen Rea, Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (‘Room’/’Normal People’), Emmy award-winning director Emer Reynolds (‘The Farthest’), Olympic medallist Sonia O’Sullivan, former international rugby player Alan Quinlan, musicians Sharon Shannon, Damien Dempsey, Mundy, Don Mescall, Mary Coughlan, Josh Gray and Brian Kennedy, author Cathy Kelly, comedians Deirdre O’Kane and PJ Gallagher and many more.

“I was very grateful for their kindness and support,” said Rachel.

“Most weren’t even aware that fur farming was happening here in Ireland. There were five farms back then, now only three remain. Those three farms will cease all operations next year and they’ll be compensated for loss of earnings.”

“My youngest son Noah was five when we started protesting outside government buildings. He’ll be 15 this year. That’s how long we’ve been campaigning.”

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