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Derry and Strabane Council bans animal circuses from its land

By Donna Deeney

Published 27/05/2016

No laughing matter: Derry and Strabane District Council has introduced a blanket ban on circuses with performing animals from using any land it owns
No laughing matter: Derry and Strabane District Council has introduced a blanket ban on circuses with performing animals from using any land it owns

Derry and Strabane District Council has introduced a blanket ban on circuses with performing animals from using any land it owns.

While tigers and lions are rarely seen in the circus ring nowadays, the ban will affect those that still use horses, ponies and dogs.

The matter was first brought up in the chamber by Independent councillor Gary Donnelly, a member of the health and community committee, who described the use of any animals in the circus ring as cruel.

Supporters of the ban were on the steps of the Guildhall ahead of a full council meeting yesterday, where the proposal was passed. Helen Davis from the Rainbow Rehoming Animal Centre was among them.

She said: "Using animals in circuses is cruel and unnecessary and it is something many circuses no longer do, but there are still some who insist on keeping animals in this unnatural environment.

"Introducing a ban on any circus using animals on land belonging to the council will be the first step towards a complete ban in the council area, which is ultimately what we want."

Mr Donnelly said he made the proposal after a gap in the Welfare of Animals Act was brought to his attention.

He said: "There really is no place for animals being used for entertainment in circuses any more and this ban sends a strong message that it is no longer acceptable to have horses or llamas performing tricks.

"It is cruel to have four-legged animals performing tricks on two hind legs or jumping through hoops of fire, and I am glad that Derry City and Strabane District Council has sent out a message that this kind of cruelty will not be endorsed by permitting circuses to set up on its land."

SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said there was an issue for the Minister of Agriculture to take on as well. He said: "Last year we were contacted about a circus that had animals but it was on private land, and really there was nothing council could do. It was a matter for the Department of Agriculture.

"This is something we are supportive of, and in fact Mark Durkan has raised it in Westminster in the past as MP for Foyle."

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