Bill Oddie urges Northern Ireland politicians to ban hunting with dogs
Politicians must listen to public opinion in Northern Ireland and ban hunting with dogs, animal welfare campaigner Bill Oddie has said.
League Against Cruel Sports vice president Mr Oddie pointed to a new poll commissioned by the organisation.
The Ipsos MORI survey indicated fewer than one in 20 people supported deer hunting remaining legal, fewer than one in eight supported hare hunting remaining legal and fewer than one in five supported fox hunting remaining legal.
Mr Oddie said Northern Ireland remained the last place in the UK where such dog hunting was permitted.
Ahead of a visit to Stormont, he said: "The people of Northern Ireland have spoken: they want hunting with dogs banned in their beautiful part of the world.
"Cruelty to wild animals in the name of sport has no place anywhere in the 21st century".
Janice Watts, from League Against Cruel Sports NI, added: "It's clear from our MORI survey that most people in Northern Ireland view hunting with disgust. Three out of five people actually think this cruel activity is already illegal so it's high time our representatives brought in a law to ban hunting.
"Our new charter urging members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce new anti-hunting legislation is endorsed by animal welfare organisations across the country, reflecting the strength of feeling for a complete ban."
The charter urges members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to commit to introducing legislation banning all hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland.
The leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland, Steven Agnew MLA, voiced his support for the campaign. He is proposing a ban in an Assembly motion.
"Northern Ireland has the unfortunate distinction of being the only remaining region in the United Kingdom where hunting with hounds is unrestricted," he said.
"Whilst the Green Party's attempt to ban this cruel practice failed in 2010 due to a lack of support from other parties in the Assembly, I hope that my latest motion to ban hunting with hounds will have a more positive outcome.
"With the majority of public opinion in favour of such a ban, it is time Northern Ireland caught up with the other nations on these islands by banning these barbaric 'sports'."