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Opinion Prada is set to stop using fur but Ireland continues to support this barbaric industry

Major players in fashion and media are turning their backs on this dying, cruel trade – it is time that we did too, writes John Carmody.

PRADA DROVE ANOTHER nail into the coffin of a dying, barbaric industry recently when its artistic director, Miuccia Prada, announced that the Italian fashion house and its brands will stop using fur.

“The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility,” she said.

With that announcement, Prada found itself in good company: Gucci, Versace, Chanel, Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg, and Burberry are among the major designers that have dropped fur in the last few years.

Other big-name brands, like Stella McCartney and Irish designer, Simone Rocha, have never used it.

In the last year, London, Amsterdam, and Melbourne fashion weeks have gone fur-free, while Oslo Fashion Week and the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival had already implemented bans.

Publications such as Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Elle have all stopped featuring fur in their editorials.

Prada’s compassionate, albeit overdue, decision is especially significant to me.

I helped thrust the anti-fur campaign into the international media spotlight.

During a 2007 Prada Fashion Show in Milan, I crashed the catwalk, brandishing a sign reading: ‘Fur Scum’.

Since that event, the momentum has been undeniable.

With a push from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others, it’s not just fashion’s trendsetters who are banishing the fur trade to its deserved place atop the ash heap of history.

The growing list of countries that have prohibited fur farming includes Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Luxembourg, and the UK, which set the precedent nearly 20 years ago by becoming the first-ever European country to implement a ban.

The production and sale of fur are outlawed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and São Paulo. New York is also considering a sales ban.

Why, then, does Ireland lag so far behind?

Some 200,000 minks are still imprisoned each year on Irish fur farms.

Confined to squalid wire-mesh battery cages, these naturally solitary animals, whose native territories extend up to 3 kilometres, are denied all opportunity to engage in their instinctual behaviour: they can’t run, swim, find their own food, or care for their young.

After enduring months of deprivation and misery, they are gassed.

And animal suffering isn’t the only issue. Fur farming is also an environmental nightmare: in order to keep the pelts from rotting on the wearer’s back, the industry treats them with a toxic brew of harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde and hexavalent chromium.

Major animal protection groups including the ISPCA, Respect for Animals, and PETA have urged the government to ban fur farming. Concerned about the cruelty inherent in the industry. Veterinary Ireland called for the farms to be shut down immediately.

So far those appeals have fallen on deaf ears. In February, Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed rejected Veterinary Ireland’s entreaty saying: “neither on the basis of the programme for Government nor the Government’s election do we have a mandate to proceed.”

But the people of Ireland are overwhelmingly opposed to our continued involvement in this barbaric industry.

Last October, a RED C poll showed that 80% of people in Ireland agreed that that fur farming should be banned. Only 9% said they disagreed with a ban.

We believe that the view of the Irish people is clear and that this gives the government a mandate to act.

Lest Ireland ends up on the wrong side of history, we must raise our voices until we are heard.

It is time that the government listened to the people and announced a ban on fur farming.

John Carmody, a native of Limerick, is the founder of the Animal Rights Action Network, Ireland’s largest, animal rights group, formed in 1995.

Carmody has advocated for a ban on wild animals in circuses, humane badger control, a ban on trade in seal skins from Canada and the introduction of the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, under which those who abuse animals can be jailed. 

Please sign the petition calling on Minister Creed to end Ireland’s involvement in the fur trade. 

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