Belfast Telegraph

Anti-fur activists throw animal body parts on Belfast streets in protest

By John Porter

Bloodied animal body parts have been strewn on the streets of Belfast by protesters demonstrating against the fur fashion trade.

Protest group Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) organised the action throughout the city centre yesterday.

Demonstrators clad in black brandished bloodied animals and waved placards reading 'Here is the rest of your fur coat' and chanted "Fur is murder".

Some of the body parts were fake, but some real.

Campaign organiser John Carmody said in recent years the fur industry had been on the rise and there was a growing acceptance of wearing animal skins again.

He said: "It is one of the most violent industries in the world.

"And it is once again becoming acceptable to wear fur. Maybe not in the full-length coats, but like as trinkets or collars.

"People are also being duped into thinking that real fur is fake - that is one of the biggest issues we have found.

"The industry is notorious for it.

"We would say to anyone who is in any doubt if something they are going to buy is real or not, to just leave it on the shelf."

ARAN says it has a membership of around 10,000 from across Ireland and tours cities and towns to put the message out that wearing fur is cruel.

During yesterday's rally one woman wearing a fur coat fled the protest, while another stood and watched the proceedings.

Mr Carmody added: "She stood proudly in her fur coat as we proudly demonstrated against fur.

"We are totally peaceful, it's not like it was 20 years ago. We want to get our message across and we find a lot of people listen."

He added: "We have model Gemma McCorry join us and she has vowed never to wear fur in her career.

"And we would urge any up-and-coming fashion designer to join the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney and the many others to not use it in their designs."

The organisation says there are five fur farms in Ireland processing more than 200,000 animals, and claims dog and cat hair is imported from Asia into the country despite laws against it.

During their protest the demonstrators held aloft what looked like skinned animals. While the bodies were replicas decorated to look authentic, the limbs, paws and eyes were real.

ARAN said the parts were sourced from other campaign groups in the United States and many of the items would have been roadkill.

Mr Carmody defended the use of the gruesome body parts to enforce their message.

He said: "Look at the road safety campaigns. They show real people and the real affects of drinking and driving to give that shock factor. It's the same for us.

"Only when you present people with the realities of the world will they pay attention."

He added: "If anyone has vintage fur coats in their wardrobe and they don't know what to do with them, I would encourage them to donate them to us and we can use them in our campaigns to discourage anyone thinking of buying fur."

The demonstration took place on the same day as the launch of Belfast FashionWeek, although the two events were not connected.

In the past the event has featured fur products on its catwalks.

Organiser Cathy Martin said: "I think there is a case to be made for people wearing vintage fur and I do have a couple of pieces - I wouldn't wear anything new, but the vintage pieces are out there, although that's not to justify animal cruelty."

She added: "I am a big animal-lover and I believe people are better-educated and informed in order to make a better decision on what they want to wear."

Quotes

"Centuries ago I would agree with wearing fur, we hunted and we needed to keep warm and it made sense. But not today.

"There are so many alternatives, you can get the killer look without having to kill."

- John Carmody, Animal Rights Action Network

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