Donkeys ‘not treated cruelly’ at derby event

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The organiser of a donkey derby at Carnlough beach has rejected claims that the animals were subjected to cruelty at the event.

The derby was staged by Carnlough Vintage Society on behalf of the Antrim Coast Lions Club, to mark 50 years of the village’s charity festival.

Large crowds of people turned out to watch the derby on Saturday evening, with one spectator also posting a video of the proceedings online.

However, a number of people have expressed concerns over alleged animal cruelty at the event.

Deputy Mayor of Larne, Councillor Drew Niblock said he had been inundated with complaints regarding the donkey derby.

He added: “To be honest, after watching video footage of the event, I too was totally disgusted at the manner in which these animals seemed to be treated.”

Another concerned person who watched the derby claimed the animals had been “beaten, punched and kicked”.

However, chairman of Carnlough Vintage Society, Anthony Magill refuted suggestions that the animals had been poorly treated.

He told the Times: “I come from a family of animal lovers, and if I thought for a moment that there was any aspect of cruelty involved in this event, I would have had no part of it; I would also have gone out of my way to try and prevent it from going ahead.

“We set a number of conditions which were strictly adhered to, including a weight limit on the jockeys, no whips or spurs, and vets being present at the event.

“I respect the opinions of those people who have raised concerns and admire anyone who takes an interest in animal welfare.

“However, in this instance, I would have to disagree with these claims that the donkeys were treated cruelly.

“I would even say the donkeys enjoyed the event, as did the vast majority of people watching it,” he concluded.

It is believed concerns about the event have been passed on to the animal welfare officer in Ballymena.