Derry & Strabane Councillors call for end to animal cruelty amid hunting concerns

Derry City and Strabane councillors voiced their support for ending animal cruelty and the improvement of animal welfare after a notice of motion was brought forward by Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson.

By Gillian Anderson
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 11:01 am

Expressing her disappointment at the lack of legislative progression on banning the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, Councillor Ferguson said: “I have had many people coming to me looking for this ban. 

“Local schools and students have been personally lobbying me to ban the hunting of mammals and these school children understand that it is inhumane and barbaric practice.

“The public do not support this type of hunting, they support a ban so I hope our council will show our support in the banning of mammals with dogs.”

Hutning with dogs has been banned in Britain but not in Northern Ireland.

Supporting the motion, SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack added: “I have never understood the thrill or pleasure anyone could get from a sport or practice which involves abusing or killing animals for entertainment. We should be fighting to protect them, not protecting those fighting them. 

“We need to get our priorities right, we need to get the legislation right and we need to do the right thing by supporting this motion today and any future motion in the Assembly.”

Stating his party’s opposition to ‘the unnecessary infliction of cruelty to animals’, Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Fleming said: “We do also understand the importance for many in rural communities of traditional rural activities like hunting. We believe the regulation of hunting of wild animals is the best approach rather than an outright ban.

“The Bill brought recently in the Assembly was flawed, it was also rushed and it is imperative that we take the time to bring forward a Bill that addresses all of the issues.”

PBP Councillor Maeve O’Neill commented: “This practice is barbaric and inhumane, it’s not sport, it’s despicable to facilitate the suffering of another creature. It’s shocking we don’t have this legislation here.”

Agreeing, Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said: “This isn’t sport, it is a disgusting and sadistic practice.” 

Council also expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in legislating for a ban on hunting and agreed to write to DAERA and the Committee for Agriculture & Rural Affairs to show council support for ending the practice of hunting for mammals with dogs.

Councillor Ferguson’s motion read: “This Council notes the widespread support across Derry City and Strabane District for the ending of animal cruelty and the improvement of animal welfare;

expresses disappointment at the lack of legislative progression on banning the hunting of mammals with dogs in Northern Ireland Assembly.

“Furthermore, this Council reaffirms our support for ending this barbaric practice and agrees to write to DAERA and the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, to show our support for ending the practice of hunting for mammals with dogs.”

The motion carried with 22 votes for, 11 against and 7 abstentions.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter