Long welcomes announcement of introduction of legislation to ban wild animals in circuses

Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it is to introduce legislation that will ban wild animals in circuses. It was in response to an oral question that Naomi tabled in the House of Commons in March 2012, that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that they intended to bring forward this ban in England; however, campaigners were concerned that the move to introduce regulations would be as a replacement for the promised ban rather than a interim measure. Naomi had signed an Early Day Motion on this subject and has also lobbied the Northern Irish Minister of Agriculture, Michele O’Neill to follow suit. The ban, announced today will come into effect by 2015.

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.”


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