WHILE a proposal to ban animal-act circuses in Limerick met with mixed reaction from councillors in the Metropolitan District this week, musician Sharon Shannon had no problem adding her full support to the campaign.
The legendary accordion player, an ardent supporter of animal protection, has written to Limerick City and County Council urging the local authority to support Fine Gael councillor for City West, Daniel Butler’s motion to introduce a ban on animal-act circuses using public land in Limerick.
In her letter to the Council, Shannon commented, “Whilst I am sure that these very same circuses do not tend to use public land, I think it is important that Limerick, being the wonderful City of Culture, stands with a growing list of Irish towns and cities who are finally acknowledging the suffering of these animals and saying no to this type of circus.”
“As well as the suffering the animals endure, the circus industry in Ireland cannot in any way, shape or form, cater for the intrinsic needs of these creatures.
This is an old and exploitive form of entertainment that is banned in many right thinking countries, with various countries coming on board all the time. This suffering and exploitation has no place in modern society,” she said.
At a special meeting of the Metropolitan District this Monday, Cllr Daniel Butler’s motion, which will now go before the next full meeting of Limerick City and County Council’s 40 members in September, was seconded by Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor for City North, Cian Prendiville.
“Travelling circuses, wrenching animals from their natural habitats, are from the Victorian era,” said Cllr Prendiville.
And while councillors, present at the meeting in City Hall, were quick to condemn animal cruelty, they called for the motion to be supported by evidence and suggested representatives of the for and against side of the argument be invited to speak at the next meeting.
Cllr Sean Lynch (FF), a retired Garda detective, told council members that he had never witnessed any evidence of such cruelty in his previous career.
“No one is in favour of animal cruelty, but this needs to be supported by evidence,” said Cllr Lynch.
Independent councillor for City North, John Gilligan, maintained that circuses were a part of our culture and insisted that they gave great enjoyment.
“I am an animal lover. I don’t get to the Serengeti and I think seeing wild animals at circuses can create a huge interest in conservation,” Cllr Gilligan suggested.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael councillor for City North, Michael Hourigan took a more philosophical view.
“Cruelty is a super emotive word. A horse being kept in a small field, is that cruelty? Animals that are kept inside for zero-grazing and have never seen the light of day is that cruelty? Cruelty is a reality of life, we need a balance between cruelty and enjoyment,” said Cllr Hourigan.
The motion to ban animal-act circuses will now come before Limerick City and County Council in September.