Blair announces plans to bring Bill to outlaw hunting wild mammals with dogs

A ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs in Northern Ireland is long overdue, Alliance MLA John Blair has said, as he announced his plans to bring a Private Members’ Bill to outlaw the practice.

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK without such a ban, with widespread public support to ban it. A consultation on Mr Blair’s proposed Bill is open until February 12. The South Antrim MLA, Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Animal Welfare, said he was committed to reforming the legislation.

“It is shocking we are almost in 2021 and still we are without such a ban in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Indeed, Boxing Day still sees one of the biggest events in the UK hunting calendar. Animal welfare is a priority for Alliance, with the party being responsible for increasing the custodial sentences and fines available for those guilty of animal cruelty crimes. We want to see the elimination of all cruelty towards animals and part of that is the banning of hunting wild mammals with dogs.

“Seeing animals ripped to shreds by dogs is nothing but cruel and that’s why I have launched a consultation into a proposed Bill. The barbaric past time of blood sports needs confined to the past and I am committed to help do so.”

Janice Watt, Senior Public Affairs Officer for the League Against Cruel Sports in Northern Ireland, added: “This is a historic opportunity to tackle the scourge of hunting with dogs once and for all in Northern Ireland – we need to end this brutally cruel activity which has no place in a civilised modern-day society.

“We welcome the move by Alliance, and call on the public and other political parties to show their support and give it their backing.”