Sheep race takes place as pig derby called off

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS - By EIMEAR DODD

The con­tro­ver­sial pig derby was re­placed by a sheep race at this year’s Seabreeze Fes­ti­val in Ark­low. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing ad­vice about the risk of African Swine Fever, the fes­ti­val com­mit­tee said in a state­ment last Thursday that the derby was post­poned and an­other event would be put in place.

‘On the ad­vice of Min­is­ter An­drew Doyle, Min­is­ter of State for Food, Forestry and Hor­ti­cul­ture, with the re­cent threat posed by African Swine Fever to the Ir­ish pig in­dus­try, Ark­low Seabreeze Fes­ti­val have made the de­ci­sion to post­pone this year’s Pig Derby from their pro­gramme of events.’

How­ever, the de­ci­sion to hold a sheep race was also con­tro­ver­sial with many people ex­press­ing con­cerns about the de­ci­sion on so­cial me­dia. Five sheep raced a short course on the Main Street last Sun­day in­stead of the pig derby.

Cllr Tommy An­nes­ley, who is in­volved with the fes­ti­val com­mit­tee and as­sisted with the race, said: ‘The crowd was ex­cited. The sheep played a ma­jor part in the fes­ti­val on Sun­day.’

Colm Moules, PRO for the fes­ti­val com­mit­tee said ‘the farmer sug­gested sheep in­stead. It was a shorter race and he [the farmer] was happy to go ahead.’

Ciara Fitzger­ald, who has been cam­paign­ing for a num­ber of years to end the pig derby said she was ‘ap­palled’ by the de­ci­sion to hold a sheep race in its place.

Speak­ing to the Wick­low People, she said ‘in­stead of us­ing this year as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore a non-an­i­mal event, they chose to race sheep.’

‘Sheep are known as meek and scare eas­ily. This bla­tant dis­re­gard for an­i­mal rights and an­i­mal wel­fare needs to be ad­dressed and stopped. Farm an­i­mals be­long on a farm, not ha­rassed up and down the street as a form of some mind­less en­ter­tain­ment,’ said Ms Fitzger­ald.

African Swine Fever is a highly con­ta­gious dis­ease for pigs that does not affect hu­mans.

Ark­low Seabreeze Princess Jamie McClean dur­ing the sheep race on Main Street in Ark­low.

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