The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has accused three Fine Gael MEPs of “turning a blind eye to the appalling cruelty of bullfighting”.
The three MEPs - Mairead McGuinness, Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly - voted against Amendment 22 of the EU Budget on Wednesday.
Fine Gael colleague Brian Hayes joined other Irish MEPs - Marian Harkin, Nessa Childers, Luke Ming Flanagan, Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy, and Liadh Ni Riada - in voting in favour of the amendment to halt the subsidies which campaigners say are worth over €100m a year to farmers who raise bulls on their land for fighting in Spain.
Brian Crowley MEP was absent for medical reasons.
The vote was passed in favour of ending the subsidies by a 438 to 199 majority, with 50 abstentions.
“The subsidies, paid annually to breeders of bulls destined for torture and death in Spanish bullrings, now look set to finally stop,” an Irish Council Against Blood Sports statement read.
“We simply cannot understand why Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness, Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly would vote against this amendment. It beggars belief that they would turn a blind eye to the appalling cruelty of bullfighting. Shame on them!”
The issue will now be passed to the European Council and Commission for further consideration.
“These three are out of touch and out of compassion when it comes to animals,” said ARAN’s John Carmody.
“We are disgusted, we are outraged and we are appalled that they voted to keep subsidies for what is clearly the most horrific form of animal abuse on the face of this planet.”
MEP Deirdre Clune defended her decision to vote against the amendment, saying that CAP aid is not specifically for the breeding of bulls for fighting.
“Bullfighting is a matter for the Spanish people and their democratically elected representatives to decide on the future of bullfighting,” she said.
“The principle of subsidiarity is established in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In particular, the principle determines when the EU is competent to legislate, and contributes to decisions being taken as closely as possible to the citizen.
“With regards to the withdrawal of subsidies for bullfighting, I think it is important to point out that there is no specific CAP aid to support the breeding of bulls for fighting, neither under the first nor the second pillar of the CAP.
“Therefore is it incorrect to say that I voted against the withdrawal of CAP funding linked to the Spanish bullfighting industry.”
MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Sean Kelly were contacted for comment, but did not respond.