Belfast Telegraph

Stormont supports the creation of a register of offenders for animal cruelty convictions

The Northern Ireland Assembly has supported a call from DUP MLAs Emma Little Pengelly and Trevor Clarke to establish an accessible register of those convicted of animal cruelty offences.

There has been a grass roots campaign calling for such a register to allow those banned from keeping animals to be tracked.

Cruel animal abusers' names 'should be stored on central register' 

On Tuesday the Assembly supported the call from Ms Little Pengelly and Mr Clarke for urgent further action to tackle animal cruelty including the establishment of an accessible register  of those convicted of animal cruelty offences and who have been disqualified from keeping animals.

Speaking after the debate, Ms Little Pengelly who proposed the motion said the law needs to be strengthened to protect animals.

"There are hundreds of thousands of pet owners and animal lovers across Northern Ireland who are disgusted and frustrated by the lenient sentences handed down to those who abuse animals," she said

"Recent cases have highlighted horrific abuse. This is an issue that has been raised to me by many constituents who want to see further and urgent action.

"We need to work to strengthen the law, building on important progress made in the Justice Act 2016 to enhance penalties, in order to prevent harm from happening and have appropriate sentences to those convicted of horrific acts of cruelty and abuse of animals. 

"An accessible register could play an important role in protecting pets, and preventing abusers from accessing animals."

Mr Clarke welcomed support for the motion from across the chamber.

"Animal cruelty is an issue that disgusts all right thinking people in Northern Ireland," he said.

"I am determined to do all that I can to ensure the Judiciary have a strong range of penalties however we need the Judiciary in Northern Ireland to ensure they are using the full range of sentencing powers the Assembly has provided for them.

"Many are concerned about reported lenient sentences in cases of extreme abuse. We will also be driving forward a strengthening of legislative provisions to maximise protections for pets and penalties for animal cruelty and abuse."

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