Arklow pig race to go ahead, despite efforts of animal rights activist

The annual Arklow Seabreeze Festival pig race is to go ahead this year, despite one woman’s efforts to put a stop to the race with a petition signed by 1,900 people.

Ciara Fitzgerald, an animal rights activist has called on the organisers to stop the running of the pig race at the festival.

Fitzgerald called on the committee to end the “cruel and frightening pig race, as in this day and age, this outdated and backward form of entertainment should be laid well and truly in the past”.

Speaking on Newstalk radio she said that it’s cruel, the pigs are terrified and that running in the race area in the midst of roaring crowd is not their natural environment.

She said that surely something else can be used to get revenue for the town instead of using animals for entertainment.

They’re animals, they’re being forced to run and then they’re put back in the truck, she said.

In her petition she said that you can see the look of fear in the pigs every year and it’s time to come into the 21st century and end this now.

“We as people should know better and not support any form of animal abuse and this is clearly cruel. Some of the public may think it’s funny, but I guarantee those pigs don’t think so,” she said.

Tommy Annesley is a Councillor in Arklow and is also a committee member of the festival. He said that the festival has been running for 24 years and that there is no need to cancel the event.

“The pigs are bought in the mart and given to local farmer to rear. They go into the arena, the pigs are let out the back of the truck and run down the ramp and up the street.

“The first one across the line wins.There are two pig handlers and some committee memebers in the area with pigs.The pigs run back into trailer, get water and meal, and this happens five times.

“They’re stunned when they come out first, they get used to it, then go up and down no problem.

Annesley said that they rectified the course this year, they now have a trailer at both ends.

Due to pigs having sensitive skin, on warm and sunny days organisers have even applied sun lotion on the pigs to ensure they don’t get sunstroke.

Fitzgerald said that she stopped going to the race in her own style of protest, she always thought it was cruel.

The animal rights activist has received a torrent of online abuse over her action against the racing.

“It’s hard to speak about it. I was told I looked like a pig and it takes a pig to fight for a pig, that I am radical and a hippy.”

Annesley said he does not a agree with the abuse she is getting, that she has every right to put her belief up there, but he has to differ on this on.

“It’s a simple race, it has two white lines for a start and finish. It’s over in less than 45 minutes.”