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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Saoirse Ronan, Victoria Smurfit and Sonia O'Sullivan join Fair City actress Rachael Pilkington to fight fur farming

Published 23/07/2014 | 11:17

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Rachael Pilkington
Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse Ronan
Sonia O'Sullivan

Saoirse Ronan, Victoria Smurfit and Sonia O'Sullivan are some of Ireland’s well-known personalities who have signed a petition urging Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to ban fur farming.

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Fair City actress Rachael Pilkington, a passionate animal rights campaigner, made a 13-page submission to Minister Simon Coveney on Friday, asking him to ban fur farming.

Some 281 people – including some of Ireland’s respected names in the acting and music business - signed the petition.

Comedian Neil Delamere, TV3’s Lisa Cannon, Glenroe actress Geraldine Plunkett, actor Simon Delaney, Juanita Wilson (nominated for academy award for her short film The Door), singer Mary Coughlan, and musician Sharon Shannon all signed the petition.

Rachael, who plays Jane in Fair City, says she became an animal rights campaigner “by osmosis” from her family.

“Through osmosis I’ve developed a huge love of nature, the environment and animals.”

“My Dad Joe Pilkington, who a lot of people may have known from the Riordan’s days – he named me Rachael after Rachel Carson

Rachael said she started the petition as a response to “Minister Coveney’s seeming indifference to the suffering of these mink”.

Fur farming is banned in Northern Ireland, Britain, and Austria, but it’s still legal here.

There are currently five licensed mink farms operating in the Republic of Ireland and, between them, it is estimated that 200,000 to 225,000 mink are farmed.

The actress argues that fur farming violates most of the "five freedoms" which underpin animal welfare best practices.

“[The petition] contains a cover letter from me pleading with him to bring about a ban, and numerous names within the Irish television and film industry who also want a ban on fur farming.”

 “It’s still legal to farm mink and foxes in Ireland,” Rachel said.

“No farming of foxes is currently being carried out, but it’s still legal to farm foxes in Ireland.”

Rachael and her family are vegetarian, and her seven-year-old son accompanies her to peaceful protests campaigning for animal welfare.

“Noah (7), he’s a great little activist now. He comes with me to all the protests.”

“We don’t eat meat or fish in our house... It is a massive change in diet. We’re trying to make it a lifestyle really.”

“I have days of weakness, but I’m doing my very best. Both my sons (7) and (17) have been vegetarian for the last eight years, and my husband too.”

“We had long discussions about it as a family.”

Rachael won’t object id her sons ever choose to order meat or fish in a restaurant, she says. In their home, they eat beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, fruit, veg, wholemeal rice, and wholemeal bread.

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