Kelly says use of wild animals in circus acts must be banned

Alliance Councillor Neil Kelly has called for the DARD Minister to legislate making it illegal for circus acts to use wild animals.

The Antrim Councillor was speaking ahead of Duffy’s Circus arrival in the town next week and said Minister O’Neill must bring Northern Ireland in line with other regions across the UK, a call which has been backed by Alliance MP Naomi Long.

He said: “I am totally against the use of wild animals in circus acts. While Duffy’s Circus is exercising its legal right in Northern Ireland to use wild animals, I believe this is ethically and morally wrong and would encourage local people to think hard about supporting any circus that continued to use wild animals in this way.

“I have been in contact with Alliance MP Naomi Long about this issue. Naomi has campaigned hard on this at Westminster, where a ban was agreed for England and Wales which will come into effect in 2015. She has also written to Minister Michelle O’Neill asking that a similar ban is introduced in Northern Ireland.

“I am also concerned that with the ban coming to England and Wales wild animals used there will find their way to Northern Ireland, thus increasing this practice rather than reducing it.

“Lions and tigers performing tricks in a circus tent seven days a week needs to be stopped, carting these great animals around the country in cages on the back of a lorry is just not right.

“While I fully accept Duffy’s act within the current regulations and legislation, it does not make it acceptable to me or many members of the public.

“The Government carried out a consultation on this issue in 2010 which showed that 94.5% of respondents supported a ban on the use of wild animals in Circuses.

It really is time that we in Northern Ireland took this matter seriously and I would ask the public to lobby their MLAs to put pressure on the Minister to introduce legislation that will end this archaic practice once and for all.”

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