Naomi Long MP said: “I would very much like to welcome the announcement of this draft legislation. We have seen a number of individual cases of wild animals being mistreated in circuses, which I know so many people were disgusted with. However, even if they are not being mistreated or wilfully neglected, a circus is no place for them as their welfare and other needs cannot be met in such an environment.
“I have lobbied extensively on this issue and I know that so many of the campaigners are overjoyed at seeing draft legislation produced; a commitment placed in writing. It is over a year ago that the Government announced this forthcoming legislation in response to a question I tabled and they have kept their word that the ban will come into force before the end of this Parliament in 2015.
“While this legislation will only affect England, I hope that it will act as a model for the Minister of Agriculture in Northern Ireland, Michele O’Neill, to implement a similar ban here. She had previously stated that she would be willing to implement a ban but would have to review the legal position in light of any developments in the UK or Ireland. Now that Westminster has published this draft legislation, I will be pressing her to follow suit in the Assembly.
“As a member of Belfast City Council, I proposed a ban on wild animal circuses using council property and there are a number of other local Councils that have taken similar decisions; however, only a complete ban in legislation will stop this practice completely.”