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Dublin: 16°C Saturday 8 May 2021

Protesters want an end to annual pig race in Arklow

The organisers say the event is not cruel to the pigs.

Pigs taking part in a race in Australia.
Pigs taking part in a race in Australia.
Image: AAP/PA Images

A PIG DERBY that takes place every year in Arklow, Co Wicklow has again been criticised by protesters calling it ‘cruel’. 

The derby is set to take place at 4pm on Sunday as part of the Arklow Seabreeze Festival which runs from 7 to 21 July. 

There are five pigs involved in four or five short races that last a few minutes each. People place €2 bets on the day and the money is used to help fund the festival. 

An online petition against this event currently has over 11,600 signatures. The petition was set up by Ciara Fitzgerald. 

“The committee just won’t change their minds, which I find utterly appalling,” said Fitzgerald in a statement on the petition on 13 July.

“They are vision-less, stubborn and they prefer the cruelty to remain,” she said of the committee. 

‘There’s no cruelty here’ 

Fianna Fáil Councillor and member of the organising committee Tommy Annesley said there is no cruelty involved in the derby. 

“I don’t condone cruelty to animals. If there was any cruelty, it would not be taking place,” he said. 

The Councillor said that some members have been bullied online and on the street by people who are against the race. The Facebook page for the festival has several posts from people condemning the event. 

He added that the pig race has been a “major part” of the festival for 25 years but the committee are open to suggestions for a different event from which they could still earn money. 

“I hope everyone enjoys the festival and I hope the protestors come along and see that there’s no cruelty here,” said Annesley. 

‘We even put sun cream on them’

Committee PRO Colm Moules said that the pigs are from a local farm and they have checked in with the farmer a few times to ensure the event is not cruel to the pigs.  

“They wouldn’t give them to us if there was any cruelty involved,” said Moules. 

“We even put sun cream on them now if it’s very warm on the day.”

The pigs are out for about an hour in total, travelling for roughly 30 metres per race.

“It’s only one minor part of the festival,” he said.

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