Only the most rosy-eyed of optimistic fur farmers in this country could imagine that the business has a future.
Banning it is back on the Dáil’s agenda, having been knocked off it by Fine Gael after its election success in 2011. With a backbencher’s prohibition bill already in the pipeline, the Government has bowed to a tide of public opinion that cannot be turned back. Pollsters at Red C record an 80% approval score for a ban, which will be the latest in a series across Europe, including the UK, Austria, and Serbia.
It’s not difficult to grasp why. When people are given the facts, the first response is disgust. Wild animals — an estimated 200,000 mink in Ireland — are kept in small cages until they are gassed, the end product is a fashion luxury with its heyday in a past century.
Producers must have seen that the game was almost up not only when mink skin exports from Ireland began to fall steadily in 2014 but also when Prada announced that it is to bin fur next February. In the very high-end market, what Prada says goes.
A consequence of ending the cruelty inherent in this trade will be lost jobs in rural areas. Other countries cushioned the blow by phasing in bans and offering fur farmers financial compensation. That is what our Government must do.