Appalling animal abuse cases means register is sensible
Two weeks ago four east Belfast men, including a father and his two sons, were given suspended jail sentences after pleading guilty to horrific animal cruelty. This involved letting dogs rip a cat to pieces.
It was an appalling case and many people felt the men should have been sent to prison as a deterrent to others.
But it is only the sickening details of the case which makes these men's names stick in the public consciousness and that will soon fade.
That is why the USPCA is correct to call for a central register to be established containing the names of all people convicted of cruelty to animals and banned from keeping animals in the future.
The lack of a register has led to charity to suggest that the bans are practically useless.
As well, those banned from keeping animals can still have them in their homes if they can prove they belong to someone else.
What the USPCA and others want – and it is a fair demand – is the creation of a register similar to that which exists for sex offenders. Without trying to draw any parallels between the two offences, it makes bureaucratic sense to have a register.
That would allow animal welfare officers or charities like the USPCA to check if someone suspected of cruelty is a repeat offender.
While the USPCA and others, including the PSNI and the pitiful small number of nine animal welfare officers who work for councils across the whole of Northern Ireland, do their best to safeguard the welfare of animals and investigate claims of cruelty, it has to be said that lack of resources is hampering their work.
Keeping a central register would be a positive step forward and would cost little to compile.
As well, more animal welfare officers need to be recruited.
Some of the much trumpeted savings from the reform of local government and the reduction in the number of councils could be directed to this cause.
Rise in price of Ulster fry leaves bad taste in mouth
The Ulster Fry has been described as a heart attack on a plate, but the soaring cost of its ingredients is just as likely to cause us to gasp for breath. For inflation has pushed up the cost of the breakfast by 44% in the past seven years.
Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey uses the fry as a method of tracking food prices and his findings certainly leave a bad taste in the mouth. The increasing cost of food during a period when wages were frozen or even reduced meant a strain on many household budgets. Even the weather conspired against householders with severe storms hitting harvests and reducing supplies. And with political uncertainty also threatening supplies such as wheat from Russia, we may not even be able to afford to comfort eat in future.