A Derry & Strabane Council Committee have unanimously backed a proposal to ban circuses which use animals from council property.
The move was proposed by Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly during a discussion on the council’s role and responsibility around animal welfare issues at the monthly meeting of the council’s Health and Community Committee.
Colr. Donnelly said that as well as welfare of animals within the Derry and Strabane region, there was another issue regarding “circuses that use performing animals”.
“There is a widespread view that it is ethically and morally wrong to impose stress, unnatural conditions and in some cases outright cruelty on animals, and this is in the name of entertainment.”
He added that circus animals were “confined to the back of lorries for long periods”.
“I think it sets a bad example; I think we need to send out a message that it is not OK.”
He then proposed that the council take an ethical position by banning circuses that use animals from council land.”
The proposal was seconded by Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher, and backed by the other councillors on the committee.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said that his party had no problem with such a proposal, with Foyle MP Mark Durkan having repeatedly raised the issue as a matter of grave concern in both Westminster and in the Assembly during his time there.
DUP Councillor Drew Thompson suggested that a report also be prepared by council officers in relation to the motion in case there is any legal implications with such a move that the council needed to be aware of.
Many circuses have done away with the use of animals in their performances and have instead concentrated on the theatrical ability and talents of their own cast. Circuses which still use animals in their performances meanwhile are regularly picketed by animal welfare protesters.