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Ireland poised to ban fur farming

Lauretta Roberts
26 June 2019

Ireland’s cabinet has approved a phased ban on fur farming in the country in a move that has been welcomed by animal rights campaigners, who are pressing for the ban to come into effect as soon as possible.

The announcement, made by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, will bring to an end the farming of 150,000 mink each year on Ireland’s three remaining fur farms. Fur farming was banned in the UK in 2000.

Respect for Animals, Humane Society International, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the National Animal Rights Association have long called for a fur farm ban in Ireland. Humane Society International is now urging the Irish government to avoid a lengthy phase-out period "so that the suffering of animals on fur farms can be brought to as swift an end as possible".

Once the ban goes through, Ireland will become the 15th European nation to have banned fur farming, with Norway, Luxembourg and Belgium doing so most recently in 2018.

Minister Creed said of the move: “While the Department has strengthened its controls over the sector in recent years, it is clear that there has been a shift in societal expectations in relation to the sector and recent veterinary evidence suggests that the farming of mink is counter to good animal welfare… Taking these considerations into account, it is considered timely to commence the phasing out of the industry in Ireland.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, responded: "HSI is delighted that Ireland’s cabinet has committed to phasing out fur farming in Ireland, meaning that Ireland will join the fast-growing list of European nations that have already banned cruel fur farming. We urge politicians to introduce the ban swiftly and with as short a phase-out period as possible so that the suffering and death of hundreds of thousands more animals on Ireland's fur farms can be avoided.

"Life on a fur farm is one of misery and suffering – animals are confined to small barren cages before being gassed to death and skinned, all for the sake of a fluffy pom-pom or fur trim. With so many countries banning fur production, the UK under pressure to ban the sale of fur, and fashion designers increasingly dropping animal fur from their collections, we hope that the horrors of the fur trade will soon be relegated to the history books."

Ruth Coppinger TD (Solidarity-PBP) Prohibition of Fur Farming Bill was due to be debated on 3 July, with a vote expected  on 4 July. The Bill had support from many politicians in opposition including from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour, Independents 4 Change, the Green Party, and the Social Democrats. On Monday it was reported that the Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, was to seek approval for government legislation, and the Cabinet has now agreed to bring forward its own bill to ban fur farming.

Ireland’s proposed fur ban comes as the UK government is under pressure from HSI’s #FurFreeBritain campaign to ban the sale of animal fur. HSI is calling on the government to make the UK a fur-free zone by extending existing cat, dog and seal fur sales bans to cover all fur-bearing species.

Although fur farming was outlawed in the UK on moral grounds in 2000, Britain still imports and sells fur from countries such as Finland, China, Italy and North America from a range of species such as fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, racoon dog and chinchilla. According to the most recent trade statistics from HMRC, in 2018 the UK imported more than £70m worth of animal fur.

UK MPs from all parties indicated they favoured a fur sale ban in the UK at a landmark debate in the House of Parliament last year but the Government has yet to take action on the matter.

A number of leading fashion houses have dropped the use of fur in the past couple of years including Versace, Gucci, Chanel, Michael Kors, Burberry, Coach, Diane von Furstenberg, Furla and Bottega Veneta, along with leading online luxury retailers Farfetch and Yoox Net-A-Porter Group. Last September's London Fashion Week was the first to be voluntarily completely free of fur.

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