The people of Limerick took to the streets of the city centre today in protest. The protest was against the use of public lands for circuses with animal acts. Limerick City Councillors will vote on the motion this coming Monday.
I was there in a purely impartial capacity. I was covering the protest for the online version of the Limerick Voice, a newspaper project carried out by University of Limerick journalism students each year.
It felt a bit difficult to be impartial though, as animal welfare is a great interest of mine. It’s why I use cruelty-free cosmetics; don’t wear suede, leather or wool and why I’m a vegetarian.
I carried out my interviews impartially and took photos of the protesters but it was actually very difficult to find people who were against the ban. I contacted each Councillor before the protest and only received responses in favour of the ban, which I mentioned, so I am hoping that my article reads as balanced as possible.
As impartial as I may have seemed, I did find it very difficult to not take a poster and wave it about. Take a t-shirt and wear it up and down the streets. Hand out leaflets to educate the public on the matter.
Now obviously I didn’t do this but I wanted to. It makes me question something about myself and journalism. Many journalists have specialties and only report on specific topics that they have an interest in, whether it’s sport or health etc. But what if this interest is actually something you’re really passionate about?
I have been thinking about this all afternoon and maybe I should not write about animal welfare as a reporter. An opinion columnist as I do here, sure. But probably not as a reporter. Even if I wrote the most balanced piece possible, I’m sure followers of mine would find my bias somewhere due to the opinions I express here and my own personal social networks.
All that aside, I met some great people in the animal welfare sector today and felt very encouraged that the rights of animals aren’t just a matter for me and my vegetarian/vegan followers. The amount of people joining the group, taking leaflets and actually reading them, beeping their vehicle horns in support was astounding. One bus driver in particular got very enthusiastic with his horn and law enforcement chipped in with their horns too.
I vowed previously never to attend another zoo. In my heart circuses that use animals were included but I never made that wish known. The unnatural confinement and tortuous training of circus animals is appalling and should be stopped globally.
Over 20 countries have established nationwide bans on circuses with live animals and Ireland is well on its way to doing the same. One Council at a time, but it’s better late than never.
This November I will actually be running the 5K Run in the Dark in Cork and will be raising money for animal welfare up until then. If you’d like to support me in this, you can do so here. Every little helps! J