EXPLORING 200 YEARS OF
1822 IN 2022
EARLY IRISH AGITATORS FOR ANIMALS AND THE VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT AT THE CENTER OF REVOLUTRION
DESPAIR ENDS WHEN TACTICS BEGIN
The following is a chronology of recorded direct actions for animals taken by individuals and groups across the island of Ireland over the last two centuries, between 1822 and 2022. Also mentioned is the one pre-1822 piece of legislation- the Wentworth Act of 1635 - as its the first of its kind, flawed though it was.
By 'recorded' I mean publicly recorded - and still available - either in mainstream Irish newspapers or the (UK) Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group and Bite Back magazines. By 'direct' I mean actions that were pro-active attempts to liberate captive animals or sabotage the machineries of abuse, or save hunted animals through direct intervention, or provide services to the vegan community like a vegan cafe, restaurant or produce. Legislative Acts designed to protect certain species are also considered here a type of direct action, in this case by the State rather than civil society.
I do not include the vast amount of demonstrations, information stalls, petitions, etc. (i.e. indirect actions) that have occurred in defence of animals in Ireland. The purpose of this website is to educate and entertain and does not endorse or condone any illegal activity.
The name of the website is a mash-up of the two nicknames given to Richard Martin MP, one of the heroes of this history. He was known locally as "Trigger Martin" because of all the duels he fought. His mate King George IV named him "Humanity Dick" for his services to animals throughout his life. Hence the HUMANITY TRIGGER.
INCOMPLETE AND ABRIDGED - This history represents only those direct actions that made it into the media. It is therefore not a complete history. What actions went on beneath the media radar is hard to know but it’s reasonable to assume at least some actions did, perhaps as many again as are recorded here.
Claiming an action to the media exposes the perpetrators to an increased risk of being apprehended so was perhaps sometimes avoided.
Sometimes those targeted preferred to stay out of the media glare and would not report acts of vandalism against their property to the police, media or insurance companies.
So the content here is the least of what happened, not the sum total.
The Diary of Actions section will run until the end of 2022 to complete the history of two centuries of struggle. it will then cease and the entire website will be a historical document - a summation and exploration of all things relevant in the story of direct actions for animals in Ireland between 1822-2022.
I welcome any helpful insights and opinions from the public, particularly if your an animal activist mentioned here.
I will continue to expand and improve the site over 2022.If you have something useful to add, email it to me (see CONTACT ME page) and i'll consider it.
More content is being added to this site on a regular basis. Come again.
The site will continue until at least the end of 2022, at which point I might publish it as an ebook/book, with extra chapters on animal rights actions and history globally.
The vast majority of actions mentioned here are claimed by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) or, if not, adhere to the ALF's policy on non-violence against people, but not all do - one incident that stands out occurred in 2011 when a young man, outraged by the inherent cruelty to animals endemic in the fast food industry, pepper-sprayed customers and staff at a Dublin KFC for which he got a 3 year sentence.
Then there is the aforementioned Richard Martin, Member of Parliament for Galway and personal friend of King George IV, who shot a man for killing a friends dog in 1783 - with no repercussions from the Law, proving yet again its one rule for 18th Century Landed Duelling Gentry and another for the rest of us.
But these are the exceptions.
Most direct actions for animals carried out in Ireland could be described as small-scale but persistent (ask Duffy’s circus) and are often designed to garner media/societal attention as much as to inhibit and sabotage the various industries of abuse.
Some actions listed here proved to be more controversial than others in the media and to the public at large, in particular releasing thousands of mink into the wild from fur farms. The impact on local fauna must be considerable and therefore the wisdom of such an act in question. However the fact of the matter is that of the Government-estimated 33,500 mink living wild in Ireland, only about 6,000 were released by animal activists - the rest were released in the mid-90's by fur farmers going out of business as EU grants dried up - It was cheaper for the fur farmers to set them loose rather than pay for their slaughter. Barely a word about that in the media though.
Another tactic frequently employed by animal activists is to spread broken glass and tacks on fields being used for Park Hare Coursing. It may seem incongruous for activists to do such a thing, given the risk it could pose to animals. However, without exception, these fields are immediately and painstakingly cleared up by the landowners as they need the land back. This tactic has been successful in slowing down many Coursing events and forcing some out of the barbaric practice altogether.
As Opinion polls consistently show about 80% of the population want Hare Coursing banned, these activists could be said to have the tacit endorsement of the majority behind them, in aims if not always in method, doing what the State is too corrupted or compromised to do itself.
The 'spiked product hoax' actions were another controversial- and often very successful - tactic during the 1980's and 90's, receiving many a condemnation from animal welfare groups and newspaper editorials but all appear to have been hoaxes, designed to raise attention and cost the target companies lots and lots of money.
The main organisations in this history are the Animal Liberation Front and the Hunt Saboteurs Association. The history of the Anarcho-Punk movement is also included because it was the (sub) cultural expression of many of the activists in both the ALF and the Hunt Saboteurs Association and sheds light on the outlook and approach of both groups.
Irelands history of Direct Action for Animals is inevitably tied to that of Great Britain's. Irish animal rights movements have often looked to what was happening in Britain for inspiration. Also, the Irish diaspora in Britain have often been at the forefront of civil and animal rights movements in the UK Irish republicans living in London at the turn of the 20th century were deeply engaged with the Brown Dog Affair for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Dog_affair.
The histories, futures and peoples of both islands are linked and wound round each other in this and so many other ways. Therefore this history will also touch on the UK experience.
In short, the first two State laws to protect animals from human abuse, the formation of the worlds first police force for animals and the first ever recorded act of deliberate interference in a foxhunt all happened in Ireland. The country has a rich and dramatic history of people acting against violence against animals, from the Wentworth Act on. It's a history of maverick characters and inspiring acts of compassion and bravery. This website is an attempt to bring this history to life. Its also jam-packed with cultural references to the times they occurred in. See if you can spot 'em.
HISTORIES OF THE STRUGGLES AGAINST BLOODSPORTS,LIVE EXPORTS,FACTORY FARMS,FUR FARMS AND VIVISECTION
DIARY OF ACTIONS OF THE ANIMAL LIBERATION FRONT AND THE HISTORY OF THE HUNT SABOTEURS IN IRELAND
onwards feline soldiers
helping animals out since 1976
Barry Horne and anonymous other with some of the 82 dogs they rescued from Interfauna vivisection laboratory,Cambridge, UK, March 17 (St. Patricks Day!) 1990
“Let ten men meet who are resolved on the lightning of violence. From that moment on, despair ends and tactics begin” Raoul Vaneigum, anarchist poet.
There has been a thin but visible thread of actions against violence against animals on this Island since at least 1635, but particularly since the advent of the Animal Liberation Front in Ireland in 1982.
Hundreds of direct actions are recorded in small articles in regional, and sometimes national, Irish newspapers. When combined into a coherent narrative and timeline, they describe a history of regular and persistent acts of sabotage, vandalism and rescue that would otherwise fade into historical oblivion.
The ALF and similar groups reached their peak in the 1990’s and have slowly receded form the political landscape since around 2010.
Other tactics are now being employed such as the Open Rescue tactic of Meat The Victims.
My part in this history concerns the Hunt Saboteurs, who employ legal forms of direct action in defence of wild animals.
Just a quick note specifically on fox hunting - this Pleasure Killing has nothing to do with 'controlling numbers of foxes' and is not a natural pursuit for the hounds. Nor has it anything to do with 'sport' or helping farmers. Many, perhaps most, farmers hate them. Would you like a riot of dozens of mounted horses and hounds, plus many more hunt support following in a convoy of vehicles, plus a bunch of sabs, charging through your land and scaring the bejasus out of 'your livestock', potentially spreading disease like TB as they do so?
The Hunt get away with it because they are Establishment through and through - many top Police, Judges, Lawyers and politicians are members of Foxhunt Kennels, its a way to connect to other members of the Elite and showcase their Dominion over everyone and everything else. And as for 'controlling numbers' of foxes to help farmers? Utter bullshit of course - do you really think these people devote their time and money into actually helping others with their 'pest control'? Every Saturday? At their own expense? No, they're a hobby and a business, not a 'pest control' charity. When a farmer wants to kill foxes, they employ two professional marksmen to do it at nigh time. Farmers do not want a bunch of half-pissed, arrogant, rich wankers taking advantage of the situation to have a joy ride and a pleasure kill.
In fact there is ample evidence of fox hunters seeking to increase the population of foxes in an area so they have more to hunt!
and here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdgaPk6yJJI
In more fact, fox hunting enthusiasts introduced the fox to the Isle of Wight in 1865, something they happily admit to in their pompous website https://www.iwfoxhounds.com/history.php
They also introduced foxes to a slightly larger 'island' - Australia - just so they could have fun chasing them to their deaths.
They can't take enough photos of themselves posing with their 'trophy' after the kill, smiling from ear to ear, smearing the blood of the victim onto faces of their children, cutting bits off the carcass as prizes to take home.
Because these people often own sections of the Media, they try to spin the narrative to present what they do as crucial for a healthy countryside and demanded by farmers to stem the population of the fox. The fact of the matter is they are violent, hysterical vandals who seek personal gratification as the expense of others, no better than bear-baiters, just slightly better dressed.
The ALF was started in the UK by Ronnie Lee, a trainee solicitor from Luton, in 1976. It grew out of the Band of Mercy (BoM), which itself was a secretive offshoot of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA).
The HSA began in 1962 in Devon, south England, initially as an informal direct-action wing of the League Against Cruel Sports. HSA members would go into the hunting field and directly interfere with the hunting process in the hope of saving the quarry, usually a fox or deer. Using voice and horn-calls that mimicked the hunters, or simply distracting the hounds by feeding them loads of meat, the saboteurs often succeeded in firmly spoiling the hunter’s day.
When faced with the inevitable violent reaction from hunters and their supporters, the early activists had one response – run away or curl up into a ball and hope for the best. Misled by Gandhian pacifist theory, they hoped their principled victimhood would nurture sympathy from the public and politicians, and maybe even amongst the hunting fraternity.
But just as the Hippie 1960’s gave way to the abrasive Punk of the 1970’s, attitudes changed.
“As soon as they laid the slightest finger on anyone, we’d attack”hunt saboteur and co-founder of the ALF , Ronnie Lee
Ronnie Lee – Appetite for Destruction
symbol of the Animal Liberation Front
ALF activists pose with two rescued rabbits
By the mid 1970’s Lee and fellow Hunt Saboteurs based around North London decided enough was enough and a new, dramatically different tactic was instigated – from now on, any aggression shown against the sabs would be met by an immediate swarm of violence.
“As soon as they laid the slightest finger on anyone, we’d attack” Ronnie Lee said, “We wouldn’t stand for any of it.” On one occasion, “One of the hunters hit one of the hunt sabs and an all-out fight broke out because we fought back against him.” When it was over, the saboteurs were victorious, and the hunters lay in a ditch writhing in pain.
The hunting fraternities response to this escalation was to notch things up another rung. Raymond Brooks-Ward, Master of the Vale of Aylesbury hunt (much more on them later) and a show jumping commentator on the BBC, formed the Hunt Protection Squad – local thugs who were paid to take on the sabs. They quickly met their match when Lee gathered a squad of sabs who were proficient in karate for a regional hit on the Vale. As three carloads of hunt sabs approached the hunt one Saturday morning, the Hunt Protection Squad ran at their vehicles and pulled open the doors of the leading car - “a boot came flying out and kicked him in the face “says Lee, “they (the karate sabs) were so brilliant. As soon as they started on one guy, all the others ran away because they thought ‘shit these guys are going to kill us.”’
Their stance was initially rejected by the HSA leadership and most other sab groups refused to work with them.
However, this shift was a pivotal moment in the history of the movement. Over time, most hunt saboteurs accepted the necessity of self-defence. A tactic developed where, if a group of sabs were attacked, the following week several other sab groups would descend on that hunt for a day of very intense sabotage. These were known as ‘regional hits’ and proved highly effective in curtailing violence from the hunting fraternity. Where necessary, a ’national hit’ would be arranged. The hunt might have 200 or more sabs turn up, often leading to violence.
Out of this situation the Hunt Retribution Squad formed to go on the offensive against certain Hunts that were felt to be out of control in their aggression against saboteurs.
Not content with bringing the concept of aggressive self-defence into the movement, Lee and a few others formed a secretive offshoot of the HSA he named the Band of Mercy (BoM), after a Victorian anti-vivisection society of the same name. Starting in the autumn of 1973, the half-a-dozen strong BoM’s specialty was to vandalize vehicles and property owned by members of the hunt, either on their property or when their vehicles were parked in quiet country lanes as their owners hunted. Vehicles belonging to the Vale of Aylesbury and other nearby hunts regularly had their tyres slashed, windscreens broken and engines sabotaged.
The range of targets expanded quickly and within a few years the Band of Mercy were burning down vivisection laboratories and boats used for seal culling until the main two activists in the group -Lee and a fellow hunt sab named Cliff Goodman - were apprehended and sent to prison.
Upon release, Lee immediately set up the Animal Liberation Front with about 40 others. Their first action was in 1976 with a raid on the Pfizers laboratory in Kent. Three pregnant beagles were rescued who went on to have 13 pups between them.
Things rapidly escalated from there. Over the next 6 years, the ALF spread all over Great Britain, over the seas to the USA and across mainland Europe and Ireland.
The history of the UK ALF is told in Keith Mann’s excellent book ‘Dusk till Dawn” and elsewhere so I won’t go into too much detail here about that here, but It is important to note a few things about their mindset and strategy to best understand their tactics.
The ALFs stated goal is ‘animal liberation’ – an end to all exploitation by humans on non-human animals.
Its important to understand the ALF are not interested in the publics perception of them. They are not Greenpeace or the RSPCA et al. This is what separates them from most other animal rights groups.
They do not seek approval from or favour with them or Politicians, believing that direct action in defence of animals is justified and necessary.
As most of the public and the economic system are both typically deeply involved in the exploitation of the animal kingdom, their reactions to ALF actions cannot be the barometer of what is considered acceptable in the pursuit of animal rights. To the ALF and others, the question is not what will people think about this or that action. Rather, the question is - what would the animals want us to do for them? Or more pertinently still – what would I want to see happen if I were in the animal’s situation?
From this point of view, the ALF have been a remarkably restrained force.
The ALF are against all violence against any living sentient creature, humans included. Some actions may cause temporary upset and chaos in society or upon certain individuals or Corporations but never physical violence. Shock and Awe, not Shoot and Kill.
This is what separates them from “militant” groups.
- above, picture of fire-damaged seal cull boat after visit from the Band of Mercy, the Wash,UK,1973
- above - the response from the Hunt Saboteurs Association to the boat-burning.They were offering reward money for information about the incident.This was the starting point for direct action for animals : even the supposed 'radical' edge of the movement was offended by the direct action of its own members.And this was done on to save seals and their beautiful pups.If even their cute faces couldnt generate enough sympathy for succesful if illegal acts, what chance did actions for rats in labs have?
left - the first ever communique in 1973 from the first ever organised group of people acting directly for animals that this author is aware of. The Band of Mercy, an informal off-shoot of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, were the precursor to the ALF. The significance of this message, being the first of its kind and widely circulated in the media, cannot be overstated in the history of struggle against violence against animals.
- images all from the ALF SG newsletter #17,p.17/18.
Paranoid Visions' Deko Dachau leads the shout-a-long somewhere in Dublin, circa early 1990's. Paranoid Visions were early and vocal supporters of the ALF. Check them out here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUdGWIdcMyE
The band I was in - Violent Phobia- played with Paranoid Visions a few times in Dublin in the early 1990's.Heres an original track from our 1990 demo tape called, you guessed it, "Animal Abuse (No Excuse)"
ME AT 15 - Crass were right about everything/ME AT 25 - Actually these issues are way more complex, too complex to be summed up in a song/ME AT 35 - Really it comes down to larger, systemic issues beyond the scope of a rock band/ME AT 45 - Crass were right about everything
THE GROUPS OF WRATH - The anarcho-punk movement emerged from the dying embers of the much better known but short-lived punk rock scene of the late 1970's. Rejecting the 'no future' nihilism espoused by the Sex Pistols, bands like Crass offered a more mature, positive and relevant outlook on the world. Alongside bands like Conflict and Flux of Pink Indians, these bands and many others vigorously promoted direct action and animal liberation in their multi-media output. Their influence on the nascent militant animal and environmental movements is hard to overstate.
At a time when young people felt alienated by the political system, anarcho-punk provided a sense of community, urgency and vitality that could never be matched by the mainstream parties or organisations.
BANDS OF MERCY - Jim Steinman, the man who composed Bat Out of Hell amongst many other songs, described his music in six words - FEVERISH, STRONG, ROMANTIC, VIOLENT, REBELLIOUS, FUN. These same nouns describe the essences of anarcho -punk.
However, anarcho punks were not the first people to write songs extolling the virtues of empathising with and defending our fellow animal brothers and sisters.
A full 80 or so years before Crass released their first EP and kickstarted the whole movement, a more gentle, less expletive-ridden scene arose called the Band of Mercy (BoM). THe BoM were an offshoot of the RSPCA and was aimed at children and adolescents. The BoM held weekly meetings in their locale, gathering the youth to learn and sing songs in praise of kindness toward animals and a willingness to defend them when required.
The BoM's were huge in Britain and the USA at the turn of the 20th century - the US had 27,000 chapters and a full 3% of United States citizens aged between 5 and 15 were signed up.
Each member pledged to do "all in our power to protect animals from cruel usage, and to promote as far as we can their humane treatment."
Lyrics from their songs could be quite militant and often soaked in religious references as reflected the times they were written in .Some lyrics could have come straight from a Conflict song - “Stand by your conscience, your honour, your faith, / Stand like a hero and battle till death” ; "Marshall forth the Bands of Mercy o'er all the Earth , till war oppression and hatred cease, In the reign of liberty love and peace". Listen to the BoM song "Liberty, Love and Peace " as, sung by the 2019 BoM summer camp Choir - https://ongcdh.org/education/british-19th-century-childrens-hymns/liberty-love-and-peace?path=bands-of-mercy-songs
above - a typical Band of Mercy chapter in the United States, circa 1890
THIS IS THE A.L.F.
What does Direct Action Mean?
It means that you are no longer prepared to sit back and allow terrible,
cruel things to happen. The camerman in Ethiopia took direct action,
he filmed the worst disaster that has ever happened to human beings. He
realised it was too enormous a problem to handle himself - so he took the
films home in the hope other people would help. They did. Are you prepared
to sit back any longer? Direct action in animal rights means causing
economic damage to those who abuse and make profits from exploitation.
It's possible to do things alone, slash tyres, glue up locks, butchers,
burger bars, the furriers, smash windows, bankrupt the lot. Throw paint over
shops and houses. Paint stripper works great on cars. Chewing gum sticks
well to fur coats. A seized engine just won't start, sand in the petrol tank
means that delivery's going nowhere. When the new death shop opens up make
sure you're the first person to be there. If the circus comes to town
remember what goes up must come down. Stop contributing to the abuse
yourself - don't eat meat, don't buy leather. Buy non-animal tested make up,
herbal soap and shampoo's better.
Try and form a group of people that you know that you can trust and plan
ambitious direct action, sometimes risky but a must. Only when you have
animal liberation will we obtain human freedom, when the last
vivisectionist's blade is snapped. It will be that one step nearer to peace.
Direct action in the animal movement is sussed and strong, and our final
goal is not far off.
Animal lovers, vandals, hooligans, cranks; recognise the labels? They say we
don't care about human beings. We say all sentient beings, animal or human
have the right to live, free from pain, torture and suffering. They say
because we are human and speak the same, we matter more. Is our pain and
suffering any greater or lesser than that of animals? Human v. animal rights
is as much a prejudice as black v. white or the nazis versus the jews an
affront to our freedom.
Vivisection is a violation of human beings, the same as it is for animals.
We have a chemical world built on a pile of drugs to thanks for their
experiments. Drugs are designed for profit, manufactured to suppress
symptoms. Human freedom, animal rights. It's one struggle, one fight.
When animal abuse is stopped then human abuse will soon stop also, an
attitude of mind. "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind".
Start by protecting the weak, the defenceless, animals, the sick, the
disabled. Compassion and emotion are our most important safety values.
If we lose them, then 'we lose' the vitality of life itself.
Emotional? Hooligans? Cranks?....
above- Colin Jerwood, singer with Conflict.
Not to be confused with the many other Colin Jerwoods. Conflict in particular pushed a vigorous endorsement of the ALF and hunt sabotage,writing anthems and raising money and recruits for the quickly expanding movement in the 1980's. Their song "This is the A.L.F." is a good example. From "the Ungovernable Force" album ,1986 . Listen to the song here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpw6yDfM1QI (lyrics above)
COMBAT ROCK ...Ronnie Lee, co-founder of the ALF, was himself an anarchist punk and sang in the short-lived Total Attack. Here they are live in Slough no less, 1980, Lee is in the middle with microphone.
KILLER WAILS - In 1979 they sent their demo tape to John Peel hoping it would get airplay. The box the tape was sent in had been covered in ALF type slogans by Ronnie and when it arrived on Peels desk at BBC it was assumed by staff to be a suspect device so they threw it into a bucket of water! Now that's Punk Rock.
Blow your ears off and have a listen to their suspect device here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZTGazVry30
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
NEVER MIND THE SEX PISTOLS
ANARCHISTS IN THE U.K.
listen to Crass song " Have a Nice Day" from their final album "Best Before 1984" here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3Lk0_AC6sE (hang on to your socks coz theyre about to be knocked off)
hear them live with splices of sound collage here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vclV7dmlFsU
Crass live - forever on the verge of exploding ...
they got the guns but we got the numbers
Huntsman using his horse as a battering ram against saboteurs, Nottingham, circa mid 1990's, photo by Andrew Testa.
THE END OF THEIR WORLD IS NIGH
"...if we are vandals, so are those who destroyed forever the gas chambers of Buchenwald and Auschwitz.." anonymous ALF activist
brand new interview with the Author on Irish Left Archive podcast
In this episode we talk to Mark Fitzpatrick. Mark is an animal rights and vegan activist originally from Cork and now based in New Zealand, where he is on the board of the Vegan Society of Aotearoa .
We discuss Mark’s politicisation in the anarcho-punk scene in Cork in the late 1980s, his involvement in hunt sabotage in Ireland and the UK, his perspective on the animal rights movement and its relationship with the Left, and his newly launched website project to document the history of animal rights in Ireland, The Humanity Trigger .
Listeners can also hear Mark discuss hunt sabotage and the police response in more detail on episode 17 of the Policed podcast , from February 2021.
above left - hunt sabs demonstrate outside a Police Station in the west of Ireland protesting biased policing against them,picture from the Limerick Leader, Saturday January 25th,2020. above right - five hunt sabs await Trial outside Culmstock Courthose, Devon, at the first ever Court case involving saboteurs, 1964.