5 Things Leo Varadkar Needs to Do to Protect Animals in Ireland
Leo Varadkar has just become Taoiseach, putting him in prime position to make some desperately needed improvements to animal welfare in Ireland.
Although Ireland has made some fantastic social progress in recent years, it’s lagging far behind many of its European neighbours when it comes to how animals are treated. Varadkar has yet to make animal protection a priority, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. By taking these five steps, he could help alleviate the suffering of countless animals who are being abused and killed for entertainment, food, and fashion.
Ban wild-animal circuses
This could be easy to achieve, if Varadkar is willing to support Paul Murphy TD’s Prohibition of Wild Animals in Circuses Bill 2017. Surveys show that only 28 per cent of Irish people support the use of wild animals in circuses, and similar bans already exist in several European countries, so there’s no excuse not to support this bill.
What You Can Do
To show your support for a ban on wild-animal circuses, please contact your TDs now and ask them to support the Prohibition of Wild Animals in Circuses Bill 2017:
Stop live exports of Irish cows
Irish cows are routinely subjected to extreme cruelty when they’re shipped to Turkey and the Middle East for slaughter. The horrors of this live export process were recently documented in a report by Animals International.
The report shows footage of cows and sheep exported from Ireland and other EU countries being kicked, beaten, and shocked in the anus with electric prods. Cows raised in Ireland are shown arriving in Turkey, covered from head to toe with faeces after a harrowing journey on a cramped, filthy transport ship. They then face brutal slaughter in countries that may have little or no regulation of abattoirs and marketplaces.
If Varadkar cares at all about Irish cows, he needs to stop putting commercial interests above animal welfare and take steps to end live exports as soon as possible.
What You Can Do
To show the government that you’re against cruel live exports, please send a message to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine now:
Promote a meat-free diet
Last year, former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson made a passionate speech promoting a meat-free diet. Addressing the One Young World Summit in Ottawa, she highlighted how going vegetarian or vegan could help people reduce their carbon footprint:
We have to change, we cannot go on with business as usual. We need each of us to think about our carbon footprint. Eat less meat, or no meat at all. Become vegetarian or vegan.
Besides inflicting unimaginable pain and suffering on billions of animals every year, the meat industry also is extremely resource-intensive. It requires massive amounts of grain and water to feed to animals on farms, before they’re killed and their flesh is processed, transported, stored, and sold – all of which require significant amounts of energy.
By following Robinson’s example and promoting a meat-free diet, Varadkar could help protect both animals and the environment.
What You Can Do
The best way to promote a vegan lifestyle is to lead by example. If you haven’t made the switch already, you can order a copy of PETA’s free vegan starter kit for great tips and advice on leaving animals off your plate:
End fur farming
The fur industry has long been a byword for cruelty and has already been outlawed in the UK and other progressive countries. Sadly, Ireland continues to allow this barbaric industry to operate, and more than 150,000 minks are killed on Irish farms every year.
Minks on intensive fur farms suffer every day of their short lives. They’re kept in cramped wire cages, unable to engage in any of their natural forms of behaviour, such as hunting, playing, or swimming. This confinement causes them such psychological distress that many go insane and mutilate themselves. And when they’re around only 6 months old, up to 70 minks at a time are crammed into a box and gassed to death.
There’s simply no justification for causing so much suffering in the name of fashion. Varadkar could help spare hundreds of thousands of minks this terrible fate by supporting a ban on fur farming.
What You Can Do
To show the government that you’re opposed to fur farming, please send a message to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine now:
Outlaw hare coursing and other blood sports
Like all blood sports, hare coursing is inherently cruel and is illegal in most European countries. Hares endure a terrifying ordeal as they’re snatched from their homes in the wild and transported to coursing fields, where they’re forced to run for their lives from predators they can’t escape. Hounds are required to be muzzled, but this doesn’t prevent the hares from being battered and mauled, and many die from injuries sustained on the field.
Polls have shown that a strong majority of Irish people oppose hare coursing and support a ban. Yet in 2016, TDs chose to ignore the will of the people and voted against a bill, introduced by independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, to outlaw the practice. In the run-up to the vote, legendary Irish actor and star of The Usual Suspects Gabriel Byrne wrote an open letter to TDs, on behalf of PETA and Animal Rights Action Network, stating the following:
It’s hard to imagine anything more barbaric than this so-called “sport”. … [F]rom the terrifying chase, during which hares have been known to rupture internal organs fleeing the hounds, to the moment the petrified and exhausted animals are surrounded … every minute of hare coursing reflects the hard-heartedness of the participants.
Varadkar should listen to the people of Ireland and push for hare coursing and other cruel blood sports to be outlawed immediately.
What You Can Do
If you want to see an end to hare coursing and other blood sports, such as fox hunting, please contact your TDs about the issue now. You can find the relevant contact details here, and check this list compiled by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports to see how they voted on last year’s bill.