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MEPs face backlash over failure to back better conditions for farm rabbits

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Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Two Irish MEPs face an animal rights backlash after voting against a resolution seeking to end the cramped caging of millions of rabbits across Europe.

The 'minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits' resolution, presented by German MEP Stefan Eck, was passed by the European Parliament.

However, among the 205 who chose to reject it were two Irish MEPs - Deirdre Clune and Sean Kelly of the Christian Democrats.

Aideen Yourell, campaign director of Irish Council Against Blood Sports, hit out at the two Fine Gael representatives, saying they have "clearly disregarded the abhorrent cruelty of the rabbit meat industry".

"Every year, 320 million rabbits are slaughtered for meat in the European Union - and there are currently no legal provisions to protect them. This means 99pc of farmed rabbits are kept in wire cages with little more space than an A4 sheet.

"Animal Equality reported that it has repeatedly documented the terrible suffering of rabbits in battery cages in Spain and Italy - where 60pc of all rabbit farms in the EU are located.

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31/10/2014 NO REPRO FEE: Europe's new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs pictured with Sean Kelly MEP and former IFA President John Bryan at Hotel Kilkenny as the former Minister was honoured by Fine Gael in KIlkenny. Photo: Pat Moore.

31/10/2014 NO REPRO FEE: Europe's new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs pictured with Sean Kelly MEP and former IFA President John Bryan at Hotel Kilkenny as the former Minister was honoured by Fine Gael in KIlkenny. Photo: Pat Moore.

"In Spain alone we have investigated 70 rabbit farms and four slaughterhouses and in each and every single one we have found evidence of extreme cruelty. Our investigators have seen rabbits with open wounds and even rabbits whose ears have been bitten off by their stressed companions.

"Due to the crowded and unnatural conditions, up to 30pc of farmed rabbits die or are killed even before arriving at the slaughterhouse," she said.

Attempts were made to contact the two MEPs, but neither responded at the time of going to press.

Irish Independent