Animal rights activists in plea for lifestyle change
July 20, 2005

Animal rights activists from around the world were in Dublin tonight to encourage Irish people to change their lifestyles and end cruelty to animals.

Speakers from Ireland, the UK and the US addressed a gathering organised by the Dublin Animal Rights Collective with the aim of raising public awareness of animal rights issues.

Robin Webb, press officer for the UK’s Animal Liberation Front, said there were a number of areas which needed to be addressed in Ireland.

"Animal rights is beginning to take off as a concern in Ireland, and it was felt that this kind of gathering or conference would help the seeds to germinate.

"Irish people are generally a kind, caring people, and once the facts are put before them, once they become aware of how animals are treated, I feel sure there will be both a change in their lifestyles and an increase in campaigns," he said.

Mr Webb said there were concerns that with the ban on hunting with hounds in the UK, both hunters and hunt saboteurs would come over to Ireland and campaigners wanted to nip the problem in the bud in this country.

"Apart from the hunting issue, the case for vegetarianism and veganism needs to be put, as it doesn’t appear to be something that is very high on the agenda here," he said.

"Although there are not many commercial research stations, there are of course animal testing facilities in various universities, and customers and suppliers of places like Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Mr Webb said that aside from the moral argument against abusing animals there were practical reasons not to exploit other species, for example the irrelevance to humans of medical tests performed on animals.

Emeritus Professor at North Carolina State University Tom Regan said people in businesses such as the food industry and the fur industry who claimed they were being humane weren’t telling people the truth.

He said there were examples of keeping animals in cages where they couldn’t turn round or spread their wings, and of subjecting them to medical or military research, where they were subjected to bio-chemical experiments, burned or had their bones broken.

"Animal rights advocates have a bad public image, and are looked at like they’re either slightly crazy, or extremists, or terrorists, but the people who paint that picture are those in the business of abusing animals," he said.

Prof Regan, who was inspired by Gandhi to become involved with animal rights philosophy, said he believed the most important thing he could do was educate people.

"I hope that people will understand advocates are just ordinary people who do one small thing differently than most people.

"They take their compassion and they go past their families, past their neighbours, past their associates, past their nations and extend it to animals.

"I think there’s a growing responsiveness to it in Ireland, but it all comes in increments," he added.