Politicians in Ireland have lambasted those criticising the crowning of a wild goat as “King Puck”, with some people accusing animal rights activists who oppose the tradition of being “snowflakes”.
The controversy is centred around the Killorglin Puck Fair, Ireland’s oldest festival, during which a wild goat is caught, crowned as “monarch” and put on a raised platform in the centre of the town.
Although celebrated by many, the fair has come under increasing pressure from activists.
According to a report by Irish radio broadcaster Newstalk, animal welfare activists are once again furious about the festival, with some demanding the government step in and ban the practice.
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“If they need to have a symbolic goat figure, they could have competitions in wood-carving, sculpting, they could have an animatronic goat if they want to – they could have a teddy bear goat if they want to,” National Animal Rights Association spokeswoman Laura Broxson told the broadcaster.
“Anything else will do … just take live animals out of it.”
That has provoked an angry response from some well-known politicians in the country.
“They’re anti-Puck, they’re anti-horse racing, they’re anti-live exports,” MP Michael Healy-Rae said, berating the “naysayers” looking to undermine the event.
“If they had their way, we’d all be inside in a dark room, looking out the window with sad eyes and sad faces, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.”
The representative for Kerry added that the goat is well taken care of throughout the festival and that evidence seems to suggest that all the animals involved have been content with their conditions.
“The goat is weighed, and when the festival is over the goat is weighed again,” he said. “Every year, year after year, that goat would put on weight.”
“No animal puts on weight unless they’re comfortable, warm and well-fed.”
Local councillors in the area have told the Irish media that there is growing resentment in the town for animal rights activists, with many feeling that political “snowflakes” are weaponising the press to put “unbelievable pressure” on the festival.
Not everyone is taking the event too seriously, with parody site Waterford Whispers News running a fake article claiming that the newly crowned goat king had already gone mad with power.
BREAKING: The goat from the Puck Fair in Killorglin has broken free and is now seeking its revenge pic.twitter.com/RpALLdjqxi
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“I’m not going to mess with a mind-reading goat King, are you?” the article reads. “I hear he can shoot lasers from his eyes.”
Others are said to be enjoying the fair, which was first given legal recognition by Britain’s King James I in the year 1613.
Many suspect the fair could be far older, with some academics saying there is evidence that it has pre-Christian origins.