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ILA Podcast #34: Mark Fitzpatrick: Anarcho-punk, Hunt Sabotage, and Animal Rights January 17, 2022

Posted by leftarchivist in Uncategorized.
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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 .

If you are or were involved in animal rights in Ireland and can contribute information to the history of that movement, you can contact Mark about the project by email at markhumanity@thehumanitytrigger.com.

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.

Artwork by Mark Fitzpatrick from TheHumanityTrigger.com

If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.


1. tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

Thanks for that. Like many, I take someone’s perspective on animal rights as a reliable indicator of how progressive and truly leftward they are. Following their repeated votes and statements in support of bloodsports, Sinn Fein have badly failed this test. Their recent history of hypocrisy and double dealing on bloodsports and their kow-towing to rural reactionaries is a serious indication of what they really are: by no means a socialist party. They’re expertly playing the equivocal territory in between rational, actual socialism, for which the vote in Ireland is shamefully small, and the inchoate anger of the yellow vesty types who barely know what their anger is against. Why would a large vote for SF be plausibly interpreted as a swing to the left when the rest of the left doesn’t get much support? It’s more likely a populist alternative to the left that can attract backward types like bloodsports fanatics as well as some would-be but deluded progressives. To borrow from that great pessimist and stand-up T. W. Adorno, our crying need to have a coherent party of the left in government no more guarantees that we will get it in the short term than the agony of a starving man assures him of food.

Liked by 2 people

alanmyler - January 17, 2022

This might be a bit contentious but I’d dispute the assertion that there’s any intrinsic connection between animal rights and Left politics. This came up at a WP Ard Fheis a few years ago when there was an end of the day feelgood motion from one of the Belfast branches about calling for an end to puppy farms. Obviously nobody is in favour of puppy farms, it’s motherhood and apple pie stuff, but there’s a more serious question about animal welfare in general as part of any Left programme that aims to feed the human population. Clearly one can have good animal welfare regimes as part of farming, it’s not that daily neglect or cruelty or abuse is a necessary part of agricultural production, but at the same time unless society as a whole turns to veganism there is that moment late in the day where the animal is slaughtered as part of the food production process. This is a pretty major thing in terms of animal rights coming into conflict with society’s needs. For me at least, Left politics is about serving society’s needs first and foremost.

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tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

I’m afraid that I dispute your disputation. From my perspective, cruelty is indeed a necessary part of animal agriculture and the meat, dairy and poultry industries. For example, what happens to male chicks and calves on a routine basis? And that’s leaving to one side your questionable assumption that we need to consume meat, dairy and poultry. Also you assume that ‘society’s needs’ can be neatly fenced off from animals’ needs and, yes, rights, and that these latter can be dispensed with. At least, have a read of the brief article I posted at the end of my comment. It argues that like other things of which Marx, as a person of his time, was insufficiently aware, animal rights as part of the fight against commodification and alienation (of both animal and worker) can be extrapolated from what he did advocate. Everything that you say is based on a certain, low, estimate of animals’ value, which can be disputed. The ‘motherhood and apple pie stuff’ comment cheapens and summarily dismisses a serious issue.

Liked by 1 person

roddy - January 17, 2022

The Northern SF position is down to one thing alone and that is the popularity of greyhound racing in Tyrone .Northern leader Michele O’Neill and her running mate Linda Dillon are from the Coalisland area where greyhounds are a big thing.Similarily Bernadette McAliskey refuses to condemn coursing because of the greyhound connection.(Her husband at one point kept greyhounds and probably still does) I have not heard anyone question her “leftism” and the usually very vocal PBP are adopting a very low profile on the issue as Bernadette is election agent for McCann and Carroll.Similarily Seamus Healy who was a member of the ULA along with the SP and PBP was allowed to support coursing with no outcry and again down to the popularity of coursing in Tipperary. I point this out as someone who lives in the most rural area imaginable but who is totally opposed to blood sports of any kind.I have kept Jack Russell dogs for over 40 years and not one of them was ever used for hunting.They roam freely and sport themselves all day without any blood being spilt.I also own a shotgun but only for clay pigeon shooting but alas I am dammed anyway by you and your ilk as “rural” and therefore “backward ” and “reactionary”.


WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2022

Not by me roddy!


yourcousin - January 17, 2022

So you’re telling me that your terriers have never killed a rat/mouse found wandering around the non-descript farm yard located by [REDACTED]? I mean, surely you’ve got mousers around?


tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

You’re certainly not damned by me, Roddy, whatever my ilk might be. When I use the term “rural reactionaries” I’m talking about those who support bloodsports and other animal-abusing “sports”. I think the term fits, especially as the likes of Mattie McGrath, the Healy-Raes and others like them are to the fore in defending those “sports”. I’m not talking about all rural people, of course, since there are many like you who oppose cruelty just as there are many in the cities who support it. Also, my own family is from a very rural and beautiful part of County Tipperary. Finally, I believe that what you say about the realpolitik reasons for certain parties’ and individuals’ support for bloodsports may well be true but in no way justifies that support.


roddy - January 17, 2022

You singled out SF but left out others .You mentioned “the yellow vests” who in reality hate SF as much as you do.If your definition of left revolves around the blood sports issue,you are going to have to “deleft” Che,Castro,the entire soviet leadership from start to finish and most if not all of the Latin American leftist movements.I say that as someone who abhors blood sports and will not allow anyone onto my ground to participate in it.Any SF members I know do not participate in blood sports and are in favour of a ban but wont become involved in causing the Northern leader a massive problem in her own backyard a few weeks before an election.Do you think PBP/SP would have caused Seamus Healy such a headache so close to an election?


tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

You seem to want to say that PBP are as bad as SF on bloodspots issues, which is nonsense. Remember that my initial post was about fox hunting. Sinn Fein have twice voted against a ban on it despite MLM having told the electorate that they would vote for a ban at “the first opportunity”. They didn’t just avoid a headache by remaining silent; they voted AGAINST a ban and spoke out In FAVOUR of fox hunting. Their only allies were about half of the DUP (!) and Jim Alistair. Down here when they vote against bans, they side with the Healy-Raes and Fine Gael instead of with the left. When did PBP ever vote against a ban on bloodsports? They try to introduce them. If Sinn Fein also vote against the forthcoming bill to ban hare coursing, will that be OK too? Is there anything they could do that wouldn’t be justified by electoral expediency?


2. tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

Sorry, I forgot one thing. Even if someone on the left has no problem with the meat, dairy and poultry industries, how would that justify Sinn Fein’s position on the killing and tormenting of animals for entertainment?

Liked by 2 people

roddy - January 17, 2022

Ted ,the PBP are hypocrites as they used an open supporter of blood sports to launch their Northern election campaigns and had not a word to say about a member of their dail group being an advocate of coursing.They are comparable with the SDLP MLA who voted for a ban despite boasting not that long ago that he had acquired a deer stalking licence.I notice you have nothing to say about left movements internationally and their support both historically and recently for blood sports.Which SF’r spoke out in FAVOUR of fox hunting.The clip I saw was much more ambivalent than that.


tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

So allegedly mixed or impure motives among some of those who voted FOR a ban mean that such a vote is worse than voting AGAINST a ban? Curious logic. As regards the history of the left, why would the fact that , say, Trotsky liked a spot of hunting mean that I should support it? If Trotsky was also, as alleged, a philanderer and possibly much worse, should anyone on the left support that too? For someone who says he opposes bloodsports, you’re tying yourself up in knots trying to absolve Sinn Fein’s defence of them. Wouldn’t it be simpler to say, “I generally support SF, but they got it very wrong on these votes”? Goodbye to the old Fianna Fail, hello to the new one.


roddy - January 17, 2022

I always support SF but they are wrong on this issue and I am not “someone who says he opposes bloodsports”. My opposition in real life is total in that I don’t allow anybody onto my holding who would engage in it.

Liked by 1 person

3. sonofstan - January 17, 2022

It is a left issue: meat and dairy production are hugely environmentally damaging, and, unless we want our socialist paradise to inhabit a world that it otherwise hellish due to global warming, we need to start working towards more sustainable food production. Cheap, processed food, like cheap air travel and fast fashion are the substitutes capitalism offers for a life that allows individuals to flourish within a social order that doesn’t depend on exploiting cheap labour somewhere conveniently out of sight.

Liked by 1 person

alanmyler - January 17, 2022

I agree completely that we need to move towards sustainable food production. However reduction of volume of production is not the same as elimination of production. From an environmental perspective it may not be necessary to completely cease the farming of animals. I say “may not” because there are so many contributors to environmental damage going on that there will be trade offs that will have to be made across the board depending on priorities. I don’t see how this makes it a Left issue I’m afraid.


4. Aonrud ⚘ - January 17, 2022

I think there’s a danger of conflating environmental, welfare, and rights arguments here. The environmental argument to reduce agriculture doesn’t inherently have an animal rights component, though I think for most of us would come with a concern for welfare. But even though that may elide in outcome (i.e. veganism) with animal rights, I think they’re ideologically or philosophically very different positions. The former doesn’t necessarily have a problem with eating meat, whereas it’s inherently a moral problem for the latter.

Not to speak for others, but my impression speaking to Mark is that he would see “animal rights” and “environmentalism plus welfare” as coincidental allies, but fundamentally different views. Similarly, when we spoke to Laura Broxson of NARA in an earlier episode. I think there’s a difference of kind rather than degree between welfare and rights.

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tedspartacus - January 17, 2022

Unfortunately, the Irish Greens have made it very clear that environmental politics and animal rights politics are separate. They did this, inter alia, by reneging on all animal welfare commitments in the PFG “negotiations” and by appointing a beef and lamb farmer who also breeds race horses as a minister, not to mention having another minister who welcomed hunters back to the countryside post lockdown. In 1985 I attended a conference in London marking the 50th anniversary of Gramsci’s death. In his address, Eric Hobsbawm said that Gramsci raised an important question when he asked, “If you claim to love mankind, why should we believe you if you don’t love any individual people?” I think a similar question arises here: why would we believe that someone loves the planet if they show little compassion for the creatures who live on it? To look on the bright side, though, there’s no danger of the Irish Greens displaying dangerous levels of warmth.


5. yourcousin - January 17, 2022

Alright well this has started off nicely in my absence. So, jumping right in.

Much of the smoke on abhorrent animal husbandry/stewardship is moot. For the purposes of this conversation as I think we can all agree that industrial animal production is inhumane and bad for the environment.

As Mark himself mentions in his talk that the issue he has is not so much the killing, but the torture of animals in advance of their slaughter.

Obviously this is contradicted by the “speciest” argument. Lets be clear, animals should not be ill treated or abused. That being said, I am speciest. While rats are incredibly intelligent creatures I would rather they be exterminated than over run an apartment building with poeple in it. Ditto, say mice in a hospital. Especially if there are health issues surrounding that. If my house was on fire and I could only save either my dogs or my son. It wouldn’t be a question, and for the record the picture on my phone screen is of my dog. The problem with these arguments is that to assume a hierarchy means that we automatically go the lowest common denominator or drowning puppies for fun. The argument of sentience is interesting because grass is self aware enough to emit distress signals when cut (that freshly mowed lawn smell). Things like the Mycorrhizal network is sophisticated enough to at least raise questions about the potential of sentience in the plant world.

This also neatly sidesteps the fact that industrial agriculture writ large can have a very negative environmental impact. Almond groves and strawberries fields depleting aquifers. The issue is the industrial scale of it all. I’ve walked through soybean fields that were ecological deserts as much as any feed lot. The reality is that much of veganism right now with lab based meat substitutes and year round fresh fruit and vegetables down at the grocer are predicated on the very system folks are railing against.

The devil is in the detail. I’ve posted this before, but it seems as good a place as any to post it again.



For a conversion to veganism to move forward you still need farmers on the land growing crops. The constant belittling and mischaracterization of the rural population does no one any good for moving the conversation forward. This is just a side note that seems to constantly pop up in these type of conversations in terms of tone.

I’m tempted to broach the hunting element now, but I feel like there’s enough content here to keep us busy for awhile. I would just note that I found the podcast interesting say thanks to Mr. Fitzpatrick for taking the time to talk about this topic.

Liked by 3 people

6. pettyburgess - January 17, 2022

Animal rights is one issue that I’ve shifted on over the years, to a much more sympathetic if still somewhat unclear stance. I don’t think that you can start taking environmentalism seriously and not at least start to get very troubled about the way in which animals are routinely tortured for our benefit.

That’s not to say that animal rights and environmentalism are one and the same or that there are no tensions and mismatches between the two.

The mention of hunting above reminded me of a recent Business Post article suggesting that the government are planning to protect feral goats from hunting. An animal rights perspective would support that. A more ecological perspective would want populations of a large, very environmentally destructive, invasive species removed from the landscape altogether.

Similarly deer are highly destructive invasive species here. At least sika, fallow and muntjac deer are, the picture is a bit more complex with red deer, which were reintroduced by early hunter gatherers but had existed in Ireland during previous interglacial periods. But even in the case of red deer, we have removed all of their natural predators.

That’s in no way an argument for cruel, inefficient hunting with dogs or the like. But if you want there to be any native woodland at all left on an island that is that is naturally a temperate forest and is in many ways already an ecological disaster zone, you really can’t have out of control populations of invasive herbivores eating every sapling. Again, the environmentalist solution would be to remove at least the more recent arrivals entirely.

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alanmyler - January 18, 2022

Just to echo YC’s point about being speciest, I’d agree with what you’re saying here about invasive species, but it does contradict the “who lives here belongs here” take that I’d imagine most of us would agree with in terms of humans living on the island. Do animal rights advocates promote the concept of equality of rights between humans and other species? That’s a genuine question.


yourcousin - January 18, 2022

“it does contradict the ‘who lives here belongs here’ take”

There’s a very real difference between people and animals. For instance pythons which have been introduced into the Everglades in Florida have set about eliminating entires classes of birds and mammals.

The reality is that people have irrevocably altered the “natural” state of things. So if we want to see nature on the land scape then it takes work. For America this has meant the implementation of Western Model of Wildlife Conservation.

Click to access North-American-model-of-Wildlife-Conservation.pdf

This was implemented at a time that western expansion, market hunting (ie feeding America on wild game), and habitat destruction had brought many animals to the brink of extinction.

This model has been such a success that in some cases, there are more animals here in the US than were here at time of European contact.

If folks have time I would recommend the read as it’s an amazing bedrock which has helped preserve our wildlife and wild places (in conjunction with other programs).

Sort of a left turn here from the previous conversation, but I feel like the caricature of champagne schwilling hunters in red coats is not the total picture.


mal - January 19, 2022

i will be listening to this with great interest both for the animal rights history and for the punk history. I love a bit of anarchopunk.

Judging by a massive thread about it recently on the r/ireland forum (and some polling the campaign against blood sports has conducted), banning fox hunting in Ireland has a lot of popular support. Not just because of the animal rights issue, but because hunts do things like trample crops and break stuff, and their dogs sometimes even kill family pets.

Liked by 1 person

yourcousin - January 23, 2022


I’m going to just put this here. I’ve posted about wolf/livestock interfaces before. But this is in Colorado. A place where people (largely living on the front range) voted to make the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife come up with a plan to reintroduce wolves on the landscape, AFTER there was confirmation that they were already here.

I remember last January I got transferred for a month or so to run a night shift for another job. And driving home one morning through Denver proper (not the suburban sprawl) I saw a bill board in a yard that had a very well painted wolf howling and a message in support of reintroduction.

It was…emotive to say the least. And therein lies the problem. Deciding on biological issues through an emotional lens rather than a scientific one.

I’ll not bother posting graphic pics or videos of wolves attacking live stock or dogs, suffice to say they exist if folks think that nature is somehow cruelty free.

Just food for thought on this Sunday.


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