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Anti-fox hunting campaigners gearing up for protests

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A hunt previously targeted by the group

A hunt previously targeted by the group

Members of Hunt Saboteurs NI

Members of Hunt Saboteurs NI

Anti-fox hunting protesters at a previous New Year's Day event

Anti-fox hunting protesters at a previous New Year's Day event

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A hunt previously targeted by the group

ANTI-FOX hunting campaigners have insisted the practice will be banned next year as they prepare to protest at the traditional Boxing Day events.

The group Hunt Saboteurs NI told Sunday Life they will be out with an increased membership despite the recent failure of the bill to ban hunting with dogs at the Assembly.

“I have never seen such a response to our social media posts as when that bill failed three weeks ago,” a senior member said.

“The next day alone we had 14 new people contacting us about joining and coming out.

“People have seen that it failed but realised there is still a group out there trying to stop it regardless and we will be out every week.”

He said that while the Boxing Day events, which take place tomorrow this year, are more of a show with little hunting taking place they would still demonstrate against the riders who venture out.

“A lot of these hunts will have 40 to 60 riders, more than a usual Saturday or Wednesday during the season.

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Anti-fox hunting protesters at a previous New Year's Day event

Anti-fox hunting protesters at a previous New Year's Day event

Anti-fox hunting protesters at a previous New Year's Day event

“If they aren’t hunting on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day they still have to pay money to go out and that allows them to hunt foxes through the season, so we will be going anyway.”

The bill was defeated at the Assembly by 45 votes to 38 with Sinn Fein surprisingly whipping its MLAs to vote against the proposed legislation.

This was despite previous indications by party president Mary Lou McDonald that she supported tightening the law.

There was a public outcry after the bill was voted down, leaving Northern Ireland as the only part of the UK where hunting with dogs is still legal.

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Members of Hunt Saboteurs NI

Members of Hunt Saboteurs NI

Members of Hunt Saboteurs NI

Sinn Fein agriculture spokesperson Declan McAleer said after the vote the party opposed "the unnecessary infliction of cruelty to animals".

"Our party position - north and south - is that regulation, not a ban, is the best approach,” he said.

But the hunt saboteurs are convinced that a ban is inevitable given the public support the Assembly vote roused.

“This time next year it will be banned because the bill will come back in the new Assembly and it will pass,” said the member.

“I have no doubt because of the public reaction it will pass, it’s an issue that goes right across the political divide.”

He added: “It’s a battle they can’t win, it’s a dying sport.”


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