The return of the live crib to Dublin’s Mansion House has been condemned as “cruel and heartless”.
In 2022, then-Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy decided the nativity display would not feature live animals due to animal welfare concerns.
A live animal crib was instead opened on St Stephen's Green - following Government intervention.
One year on and Ms Conroy's successor, Daithí de Róiste, said he was “absolutely delighted” the Mansion House crib once again contains a real life donkey and goat.
“It’s a Christmas tradition that goes back over three decades,” he told Newstalk.
“It’s so, so important, especially when we consider the events of the last week and a half, to have a bit of Christmas cheer that people can come and enjoy it here at the Mansion House.”
Animal rights campaigner John Carmody has long opposed the use of live animals in the display and said it was a “sad day today, for sure”.
“It comes from an era and a time in Ireland when we knew no [better] about animal suffering or even the rights of people,” he said.
“We’ve moved on from those dark days in Ireland but today we should know better.
“It’s quite disappointing that we’re going to be keeping these animals in this freezing weather and we sincerely hope this is going to be the last of it.”
The animals are housed behind perspex glass where they can easily be seen by children and other visitors to the Mansion House.
They are fed and watered but Mr Carmody believes being on display cannot be enjoyable for them.
“Saying these animals are going to be looked after by giving them food and water won’t cut it,” he said.
“It won’t fool a lot of people who will see these poor animals standing helplessly for hours on end.”
'We’re hoping it will be statuettes'
Instead, Mr Carmody wants them replaced by statuettes of animals that featured in the nativity story.
“Animal rights campaigners would want to keep with the tradition of animals in the crib in the run up to Christmas,” he said.
“This time around, 2024, we’re hoping it will be statuettes that we can have inside the crib.
“I can assure you, animal lovers from across the country will be gathering outside to take selfies. It’ll be a good day for everyone involved.”
Main image: The Live Animal Crib at the Mansion House. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie