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Ban circuses with wild animals, says DUP in new policy

By Linda Stewart

The DUP is calling for a ban on circuses that use wild animals.

It also wants to see a centrally compiled Banned Offenders Register and the delivery of a schools' syllabus on how to care for pets as part of a new animal welfare policy paper, which was launched at Assisi Charity's shop in Newtownards this morning.

East Belfast Westminster candidate Gavin Robinson said the Challenging Cruelty plan aims to ensure that Northern Ireland becomes a zero-tolerance country for those who would abuse animals.

The paper was written following discussion with animal welfare charities and also proposes a public awareness campaign on the Welfare of Animals (NI) Act, looking at how to report cruelty.

"There is a lack of understanding about the legislation governing animal welfare in Northern Ireland.

"A recent poll found that 94% of people were unaware of changes to legislation relating to the organisations and bodies responsible for investigating and acting on cruelty and neglect of animals," Mr Robinson said. "In the same survey, only 9% of people cited their local council as the point of contact. For this reason, we propose a public awareness campaign in relation to the Welfare of Animals Act, its provisions and how to report cruelty."

Mr Robinson said one key area of concern is that when someone is banned from owning or keeping animals for a certain period of time, there is no effective mechanism in place to police such bans.

"This was a key issue highlighted by many charities and those working in the sector, and that is why we propose a centrally compiled Banned Offenders Register. That register can provide a resource for enforcement officials and ensure that any breach of the ban can be identified and punished appropriately," he said.

"Many councils in Northern Ireland, including Belfast, have banned circuses that contain wild animals from using their property. We want to see this ban extended further and the DUP will support Private Members Legislation banning such circuses entirely within Northern Ireland.

"Wild animals should not be kept to perform tricks for the public and we do not believe that this practice has a place in a modern Northern Ireland.

"Our pets provide joy to countless people and often it is true to state that they are 'part of the family'. Any act of cruelty towards an animal must be punished and those responsible for extreme cases of cruelty should go to prison," he said.

Quotes

"A key area of concern is that when a person is banned from owning or keeping animals for a certain period of time, there is no effective mechanism in place to police such bans.

"This was a key issue highlighted by many charities and those working in the sector and that is why we propose a centrally compiled 'Banned Offenders Register'."

- DUP's Gavin Robinson

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