Northern Ireland news

Anti-animal cruelty group at Stormont aim to introduce bill against hunting and regulate puppy trade

The Assembly’s All Party Group on Animal Welfare was officially reconstituted today
Rebecca Black, PA

Stormont MLAs have pledged to introduce legislation to ban the hunting of wild animals as well as regulating the puppy trade.

The Assembly’s All Party Group on Animal Welfare was officially reconstituted today.

The group, made up of MLAs from all the major parties, elected Alliance MLA John Blair as chairman and Alliance MLA Patrick Brown as vice chairman.

They agreed urgent priorities including the introduction of a Bill to ban hunting wild mammals with dogs, the need for enhanced regulation of the puppy trade, the updating of animal business licensing regulations, and advancement on the establishment of a banned offenders register.

Mr Blair welcomed support from the parties represented for a range of animal welfare issues.

“I look forward to working with colleagues over the coming months to progress legislation and ensure these issues around animal welfare protections remain prioritised on the agenda,” he said.

USPCA chief executive, Brendan Mullan, described Northern Ireland as “lagging significantly” other regions in terms of legal protection for animals.

“The All Party Group has been instrumental in fostering increased levels of discussion on key animal welfare issues within the Assembly and we are greatly encouraged by the work carried out in the last year and a half,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that Northern Ireland is lagging significantly behind other regions in terms of the protections we afford to animals under law, shockingly, in some instances this is by as much as 20 years.

“In this mandate, our political representatives have a fresh opportunity to close this gap and the first crucial step will be making meaningful progress on the priorities as outlined by the APG.

“Northern Ireland is proudly the home to many animal lovers who share our passion in safeguarding some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and it’s important to note that the APG is a critical forum for MLAs to raise emerging issues that are important to both them and their constituents.

“We look forward to working with all members in the months ahead.”

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