A senator has called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to host the live animal crib outside the Agriculture House this year.

Senator Tim Lombard has written to the minister this morning (Tuesday, November 8), urging him to work with farm organisations and to relocate the crib with live animals to Kildare Street.

The senator’s call follows the official announcement by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Caroline Conroy that the crib outside Mansion House will not include live animals yesterday (Monday, November 7).

Kildare Street is an accessible, convenient and appropriate location that would allow families to continue to visit the crib this year, according to the senator who intends to raise the issue in the Seanad in the coming days.

Speaking to Agriland, Senator Lombard said that suggestions to cancel the live crib over animal cruelty concerns are “losing the point of what all this is about”. He continued:

“Let’s use this as an opportunity to inform and educate people about family farms rather than replacing tradition with something the Lord Mayor deems to be a ‘better experience’.”

Dublin City Council and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) have been organising the crib since 1995, which included sheep, a donkey and a goat provided and cared for by the IFA.

Minister McConalogue previously told the Macra 2022 Rally that he believes the Christmas crib with live animals should go ahead in Dublin.

Live animal crib

In previous years, the animals were brought in each morning and returned to a farm on the outskirts of the city each evening, and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) advised with regards to the care of the animals.

The Lord Mayor, however, believes it is time for a “significant revamp” and to “make the experience better this Christmas” without live animals in the crib.

Describing the current offer for families as “a little underwhelming”, the Lord Mayor said this year there will be more than just a crib, including a Christmas post box, a sleigh that children can get into, workshops and children’s choirs and dance groups.

“In the last years the experience has been limited, where people entered what is effectively a shed at one end and passively view some farm animals for a few minutes, lately behind a perspex screen, before exiting the other side.

“I believe we can create a better experience, one where children can interact with the displays at the Mansion House, where play and fun are at the centre of it,” she said.

Previously, the Lord Mayor decided to consult with the protocol committee, however, none of the committee members representing all political groupings on the council raised concerns about the plan.

In a statement, the IFA said given the very strong public support for the live animal crib, it is disappointing that it won’t be going ahead at the Mansion House this year.

“We are also disappointed that the Lord Mayor has yet to meet IFA on the issue. We will consider our options over the coming days,” according to the IFA.

“It is unfortunate from the perspective of the council that a member of the protocol committee informed the media before my office had an opportunity to contact the IFA or the DSPCA,” the Lord Mayor said.