Call to cancel 'cruel' pig race
An Arklow animal rights activist has for the second year in a row, called on the organisers of the Seabreeze Festival to cancel the pig derby.
Scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, the five-pig race has been a festival fixture for many years but according to Ciara Fitzgerald, is a cruel and unnecessary event.
In an open letter to the Seabreeze Festival committee Ms Fitzgerald called on the committee to re-think the inclusion of the event for 2017.
'The petition I started in July 2015 now has almost 5,000 signatures from locals and people all around the world, who view this race as cruel, out-dated and inhumane. Pigs are highly intelligent beings, with the same level of smarts as a young toddler. Can you imagine five two-year olds forced into running through Arklow Main Street in an arena surrounded by people cheering them on? It wouldn't go down too well I can imagine,' she outlined.
Ms Fitzgerald also shared the view that the event causes 'unnecessary strain' on the animals.
'Pigs fear trailers for a start, so before they even reach your arena, unnecessary strain has been inflicted on them. Then they're forced into the hustle of a busy noisy crowd to run a race amidst jeering and screams. I can't even begin to imagine the fear this has to cause these five piglets. All of the five freedoms which are generally expected as the norm for the treatment of livestock, are not met with this race, and it needs to end.'
Ms Fitzgerald said that she respects the tradition of the festival, she believes there are other forms of entertainment available.
'I respect your need to keep up traditions and to draw crowds to the town but I simply can't accept you cannot find another method to entertain and bring in revenue. So, I implore you to re-think this event, and put it firmly in the past for all future Arklow Seabreeze Festivals.'
Chairperson of Arklow Seabreeze Committee Colm Moules said that at this late stage it would be unable to cancel the event but moved to reassure the public that there is no risk to the animals at any stage during the event.
'We would like to make it clear that at no stage are the animals put at any risk or harmed in any shape or form. This has been debated at national level and the concensus was that the animals are well looked after. We wouldn't be able to run the event without the consent of the farmer who rears them and he is happy with how it is run. Once the derby is over the pigs are taken straight back to the farm,' he said.