Three Fine Gael MEPs voted against European Parliament legislation that could cripple Spanish bullfighting, saying a ban on the sport is a matter for the Spanish people.
In a vote in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 438 of the 687 MEPs present backed an amendment calling for a ban on Common Agricultural Policy subsidies for “lethal bullfighting activities”.
Fine Gael MEPs Deirdre Clune, Mairead McGuinness and Seán Kelly voted against the amendment, although Dublin MEP Brian Hayes voted for it, saying: "I believed it was the right thing to do." Last year, he abstained in a similar vote.
The other Irish MEPs who backed cutting subsidies were Independent MEPs Marian Harkin, Nessa Childers, Luke Ming Flanagan, and Sinn Féin's Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Liadh Ní Riada.
Fianna Fail's Brian Crowley was absent on medical grounds.
Saying "shame on you" to the three MEPs who voted against the amendment, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports said they had "disgracefully voted" despite "being well aware of the appalling suffering inflicted on bulls".
The European Parliament vote could mean that long-standing subsidies, paid annually to Spanish bull-breeders, could now stop. That could be enough to make it uneconomic to continue.
However, Ms Clune, who represents the Ireland South constituency, said that bullfighting is “a matter for the Spanish people and their democratically elected representatives to decide” under EU subsidiarity rules.