Ruth Coppinger to meet Agriculture Minister over plans to ban fur farming

Solidarity-PBP's Ruth Coppinger is to meet the Agriculture Minister to seek clarity on his plans to ban fur farming in Ireland.

Ruth Coppinger to meet Agriculture Minister over plans to ban fur farming

Solidarity-PBP's Ruth Coppinger is to meet the Agriculture Minister to seek clarity on his plans to ban fur farming in Ireland.

It comes after the Irish Examiner revealed that Minister Michael Creed will bring plans to Cabinet today to phase out the controversial practice.

Ms Coppinger, who is a long-time campaigner on the issue, had already received support from across the opposition benches for her bill which would put an end to the fur industry in this country.

However, it is understood Mr Creed will now bring a proposal to Cabinet to phase out fur farms, which is seen as a shift in policy.

The Government has been asked to follow the lead of 14 other EU countries that have already banned fur farms.

It has also been under pressure to act from within the Dáil with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour, Independents 4 Change, the Green Party, the Social Democrats all supporting Ms Coppinger's Prohibition of Fur Farming Bill which is due back before the House on July 3.

Welcoming the Government's indication that it will now move to outlaw fur farming, Ms Coppinger raised a number of concerns.

She questioned why the Government now feels it needs to bring forward its own proposals.

"There is nothing to prevent the Government from accepting our legislation and if they have any issues with it they can amend it at the next stage, at committee stage."

It is understood that the Minister had some concerns around Ms Coppinger's Bill with the Government claiming it is legally flawed and could expose the State to significant legal liability.

Ending fur farming is thought to have been under consideration by the Minister for some time.

However, concerns around the constitutionality of such a ban and the rights of those employed on fur farms had delayed progress.

There are around 100 people currently employed in the fur industry and these jobs are in Donegal, Kerry and Offaly.

However, the Solidarity-PBP TD said she would not expect the industry to shut up shop overnight as both the rehoming of the animals themselves and the employment of those working on farms would have to be considered.

She suggested that fur farms could be converted into different enterprises and pointed to one in Scotland which is now a profitable strawberry producer.

"It's not a really viable industry any more anyway. I think it would serve the workers if there is diversification," she said.

Ms Coppinger has written to the Minister who has agreed to meet her.

She said she would be questioning Mr Creed on why the Government cannot simply adopt her Bill and will be seeking to know if it intends to draft new legislation or will introduce the ban through a Ministerial order.

Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and Veterinary Ireland have already called for an end to fur farming on animal welfare grounds.

Reacting to the Government plans, John Carmody founder of Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) said: "I applaud the hard work of thousands of compassionate and caring activists for speaking out against this cruel practice that was kept hidden from the Irish public and thank them for pressuring politicians to do the right thing."

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