Northern Ireland news

MLA shocked at animal cruelty figures

There have been shocking revelations about 'puppy farms' in recent years 
Cathal McGuigan

Peter Weir, a DUP MLA for North Down, has said it is ‘truly shocking’ that 55 people in Northern Ireland have been banned from keeping animals over the past three years.

The figures from the Department of Justice also revealed that only four convictions have led to a lifetime ban on keeping animals.

Weir, who is also Chair of the Assembly All Party Group on Animal Welfare, was concerned that so few offenders received a lifetime ban.

“There is clearly a disconnect in that 55 people have been banned, but in so few cases this has led to a permanent ban as opposed to a temporary ban,” said Weir.

“There is a clear message that we need to educate people in the care and respect of animals. Those who are cruel should feel the full weight of the punishment.”

Weir also called for a register of those banned from keeping animals that is ‘easily accessible to all relevant agencies,’ and that information on animal cruelty offences is shared between neighbouring jurisdictions.

This follows a similar statement from Weir’s fellow North Down MLA Steven Agnew last month.

Agnew said in the Assembly that action must be taken to end the use of animals in circus acts.

“Even if there is no deliberate cruelty, to the animals, the nature of travelling circuses makes it impossible to meet the basic needs of animals that are used to freely roaming many miles a day in the wild,” said the Green Party leader.

“Inadequate conditions, a lack of proper facilities, the stress of constant travelling, coercion to perform tricks – the reality is that these animals are being exploited and abused.”

“In the same way that society no longer tolerates ‘freak shows’, circuses with animals must no longer be defined as entertainment or tolerated as in any way acceptable.”

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