Green Party set to protest New Year's Day hunt in Co Down village
The Green Party is set to stage a New Year's Day protest in opposition to a fox hunt taking place in a Co Down village.
Northern Ireland is currently the only region of the UK which has not outlawed fox hunting, and the event in Crawfordsburn takes place annually.
Speaking about the protest, Green Party chair Ricky Bamford said legislation outlawing the practice should be introduced in Northern Ireland.
"We feel this dignified and peaceful protest in Crawfordsburn on the morning of New Year’s Day will be an opportunity to show our objection to the fact that these people enjoy hunting and killing defenceless wild animals," she said.
"This is the 21st century and, in a civilised society, people on horseback should not be using dogs to chase small animals for their pleasure."
Green Party rep Hannah McNamara, from Donaghadee, said: “The Green Party has always been opposed to bloodsports and has campaigned for a ban on foxhunting in Northern Ireland, but we believe there is a growing acceptance within society and within other parties that bloodsports are wrong, which is why we have extended an open invitation for people from all parties to join us on New Year’s Day.
She also noted statistics from a survey carried out by Ipso MORI in 2015 which found the vast majority supported activities outlawed by the Hunting Act, which included: fox hunting, deer hunting, hare hunting and coursing, dog fighting, and badger baiting.
The act, introduced by Labour in 2004, has been back in the headlines following a report in the Sunday Times that Prime Minsiter Theresa May plans to abandoned a manifesto pledge to give MPs a free vote on the issue.
The veracity of the claim has been denied by Downing Street.
In 2010, a bill introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly by the Green Party which called for an end to hunting with dogs failed to pass, with only the Alliance party giving its backing.
The hunt is due to meet outside of Crawsfordburn Inn at 1pm, with the protesters meeting in advance of this at 10.30am. Organisers have asked participants to participate in a "peaceful and lawful manner at all times".
Belfast Telegraph Digital