March 20, 2008
Mink farm targeted by animal rights group
By: Joe Barrett
GARDAÍ in Portlaoise are investigating an attack by animal rights activists at a mink farm in Vicarstown after a large number of mink were released from their pens over the weekend.
A garda source told the Laois Nationalist sometime over the weekend the mink farm was accessed when someone broke a lock from a gate, released over 500 mink and sprayed graffiti around the farmyard.
Una Heffernan of Vasa Limited which owns the farm, said while the mink had been released from their cages they were contained in the holding compound of the yard and none had escaped into the countryside.
Ms Hefferan said graffiti sprayed around the buildings was quite specific and gave the name of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
She was unable to say whether this group has any connections with another group the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade who have held protests outside her farm on a number of occasions.
This is not the first time the mink farm has been targeted in such a way. About five years ago animal rights activists released about 50 mink into the wild. These were quickly rounded up.
To date no one has ever been arrested, charged or convicted with any illegal activity in attempting to release mink from the farm.
There have been sporadic protests outside the farm over the past number of years by the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade venting their opposition to the farm�s activities.
Speaking to the Laois Nationalist yesterday (Tuesday) from a protest line outside the Department of Agriculture in Dublin Laura Broxson, a spokesperson for this group, denied any of her members was involved in any way in the weekend�s events.
She said her group has no connections to the Animal Liberation Front.
"This is the first we�ve heard about this. We�re not a group that gets involved in any illegal activities. We do however support direct legal action. We demonstrate and distribute publications opposing the fur trade and would not condone last weekend�s actions.
"We can understand though why some people are inclined to take matters into their own hands in this way. There is a lot of frustration at the slowness of the Government in coming forward with legislation to outlaw the fur trade in the country.
"Some people see this type of action as similar to freeing slaves. Those underground activists see mink farmers as locking up wild animals against their nature in confined spaces."
Ms Broxson said her group intends organising "an awareness" day in Portlaoise in May or June which will be followed by a protest outside the mink farm and she is asking local people opposed to the fur trade to join them in their day of action.