Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > Ireland
ARAN Awards Homeless Hero

July 19, 2011

"The story seemed to genuinely touch the nation and it was lovely to see the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) handing him (Mr. John Byrne) a thoroughly well deserved award for his bravery and concern for animals" -- Ian O'Doherty, Irish Independent

Dear Member & Supporter;

If there was ever a memorable moment in ARAN's sixteen year history, and there's been a few!, it was on July 12 on Dublin's O' Connell Bridge where we presented a homeless Dublin man, Mr. John Byrne, with our 'Compassionate Citizen Award' for risking his life to saving his companion rabbit, Barney, who was tossed into the River Liffey by an 18year-old passerby. Mr. Byrne risked his life by jumping into the freezing cold river to save the rabbit and waited for up to forty-five minutes for emergency services to rescue them both. Click here for footage of the daring rescue and to see a story that was to have touched our nation's hearts. After the rescue, media reports talked about the heroic act of bravery and kindness by Mr. Byrne. That same week, ARAN announced we were to honour Mr. Byrne with our award in recognition for his compassion and fast on the ball thinking that saved the life of his rabbit. We also used this opportunity to get word out to our nation about how animals in our society are so vulnerable, and the need for stronger laws to protect them, our award ended up grabbing the nations headlines, read on!

Click here for a great Irish Times report. Click here for TV3 5.30pm news footage, and click here for RTE One 6pm news footage. Click here for great commentary and footage of the press photo call.

Kicking off the news of our award were national newspapers The Irish Star, Irish Sun, Metro Herald and Evening Herald, all running stories of our upcoming award. Castlebar fm, Limerick's Live 95fm,RTE Radio One also did great interviews with Mr. Byrne and interviews with us at ARAN about our planned award. During the interviews we spoke about our offer to spay & neuter Mr. Byrne's animals, the need for people in general to always spay and neuter, we spoke of Ireland's outdated 1911 animal welfare bill and our work to bring in new meaningful legislation that will make life harder for those who get sick kicks out of hurting and being cruel to animals, we spoke about cruelty to animals and the 18 year-old facing charges, and, we spoke about why our schools should have a kindness course included in their curriculum in the upcoming school term. Other media outlets that covered our planned award were Utv radio, FM104, Dublin's 98fm, Q102fm, Today fm, Newstalk, UTV News, RTE.IE, TV3.IE, Limerick Leader, and many more. On Tuesday, July 12a media scrum began building up for the awards presentation on Dublin's O'Connell Street. With a throng of reporters, journalists, two TV crews and about a dozen photographers, along with passersby, members of the public and two Garda' who attended especially for the event to honour Mr. Byrne and some ARAN volunteers and supporters. During the press conference on the bridge, we awarded Mr. Byrne our 'Compassionate Citizen Award', amid a barrage of media journalists recording the event and flashing camera bulbs. The media coverage that was to follow was chaotic, our phones were ringing off the hook with radio stations wanting us on air, we had callers ringing up with offers of help, we had people calling up wanting more information on our campaigns and how they can get active, and, we had offers of a home for Mr. Byrne too. We had a call from as far afield as a Brazilian media agency. The media coverage that followed included TV3 News, RTE One 6pm and 9pm News, BBC News, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Irish Times, Evening Herald, Metro Herald, Irish Sun, Irish Star, Irish Mirror, Broadsheet, The Journal, Irish World, USA Today, Ballyfermot Echo, Dublin's 98fm, FM104, Q102fm, News talk, Today fm, RTE Radio One, 4fm, 2fm, Spin, Radio Na Life, Tipperary fm, and many more. We'd like to thank Second Chance Animal Rescue(SCAR) in Shannon, Co. Clare for their generous donation to help care for Mr. Byrne's animals and to Focus Ireland, the homeless charity who featured our award on their Facebook page that has over 60,000 'friends', leading to a deluge of requests, kind notes of well wishes, new supporters and offers of help.

Since news broke of this story, which has touched the hearts of our nation and movement, we have being inundated with calls and offers of help and support for our campaigns to stop cruelty to animals. We are already filling information requests for animal rights literature and we're including information on going vegetarian and vegan, providing information on spaying and neutering and giving all these new supporters ways they can get active to help animals!

Remember, just like the rabbit, Barney, all animals are vulnerable and can't fight back, please re-double your commitment to stand by ARAN to fight animal abuse, because together we are making a positive difference.


--Fighting animal abuse across Ireland'

P.S. In other news, last week we exposed yet again more hideous animal experiments at Trinity College in The Irish Independent, we also spoke about the need to advance medical research by using modern, sophisticated methods that do not involve the torment and suffering of many millions of animals. Dublin's 98fm also interviewed a member of ARAN about news of San Francisco looking to introduce legislation to ban pet shops, a move ARAN welcomes. ARAN was also featured in an interview with RTE 2 Television's 'Savage Eye' programme where we were interviewed about sex with animals being legal in Denmark and our calls to have it banned for obvious ethical and moral reasons. Dublin 98fm also spoke with us again this week for almost thirty minutes live on-air about our views on promoting vegetarian and veganism. ARAN is currently working with Humane Society International (HSI) to encourage Irish MEP's to call on the Canadian government to call off their planned World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenge in relation to the EU wide seal product trade ban. ARAN will also be tabling at Morrissey concerts in Cork on July 27, Dublin July 29 and Belfast July 30, if you plan on attending his concerts please be sure to stop by our information table to get literature, ask questions and to find out what campaigns we're working on and how you can make a difference. Morrissey is an outspoken vegetarian and animal rights supporter. ARAN also welcomed the great news that UK MP's voted to ban animal act circuses. In the coming months we will be announcing a new 'Stop Circus Suffering in Ireland', campaign tour of schools.

A full member news briefing will be sent out in due course with more detailed campaign updates.

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