Naomi Long, who previously supported a ban on circuses incorporating wild animal acts using property owned by Belfast City Council, said: “I firmly believe that a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses should be introduced, even if it requires primary legislation.
“Whilst this morning’s debate focused on the introduction if a ban in England, many of the issues discussed are also relevant in other regions. Later this week, a similar debate will take place on the Scottish Parliament, and I have written to both the previous and current Minister for Agriculture in Northern Ireland to ask that their department address this issue locally.
“I do not believe that the current Government proposals to introduce a licensing scheme will address the welfare concerns of the animal welfare charities, animal health experts and the general public.
“Ninety four per cent of respondents supported an outright ban in the recent consultation. This is not simply a reaction to high profile, individual acts of cruelty but because they believe as I do that the welfare needs of large, wild animals simply cannot be adequately met in a circus environment.”