VIDEO footage from inside the country’s six fur farms has been posted on the internet by animal rights activists. The clips show apparently distressed mink locked in small cages.
The ability of activists to breach security at the facilities will raise fears about the possibility of more of the non-native animals escaping into the countryside.
The footage is believed to have been recorded in recent weeks by members of the Animal Liberation Front, an organisation whose US branch has been classified as a terrorist organisation.
Speaking on behalf of the group which breached security at the fur farms, an activist who identified himself as Ed said: “The animals in these farms are obviously distressed, they are clearly displaying so-called stereotypical behaviour where they are walking repeatedly in the same patterns, or their heads are bobbing up and down, or they are jumping against the cages.
“As well as the cruelty on display, we believe there are breaches in the legalisation as well, with mink running free around the farms and rubbish piled up.”
There are six known mink fur factory farms operating under five licences in Ireland, as well as one arctic fox fur farm.
Three of the farms are located in Co Donegal with the others in counties Laois, Sligo and Kerry.
The release of the footage on the internet comes as the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) heightens its lobbying to have fur farming banned.
CAFT is sending “expose packs” containing DVDs of the fur farm video to TDs, government officials and the media.
The group has also stated it will hold a series of “fur farm awareness days”, with protests outside the facilities around the country.
Fur farms in Ireland have become more profitable in recent years with the industry banned in Britain in 2003 and the Netherlands in 2004.
On average, 117,500 animal pelts are exported from Ireland annually with a declared value of €2 million. The Department of Agriculture estimates that there are more than 40,000 breeding mink in the country, with more than 100,000 mink killed each year.
In March 2005, a bill to ban fur farming was put forward by the Green Party. It was supported by opposition parties but was defeated by 67 votes to 50.
A Department of Agriculture spokesman said: “All mink farm are licensed under the Musk Rats Act 1933 (application to minks) Order 1965. There are no legal changes being considered at this time that the department is aware of.”
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