Assembly members call for a ban on animal circuses

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Elected representatives to the Northern Ireland Assembly have called for an end to animal circuses, during a debate on animal welfare legislation.

East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton spoke passionately against using animals in circuses, which he called an “outdated form of perverted amusement”. Using evidence from Freedom for Animals investigations, he referred to animals such as lions, elephants, a rhino and hippo being “shipped in beast wagons across the seas on long gruelling journeys and moved from Italy, France, or Germany to the UK or Ireland”.

The debate called on the Minister of Agriculture to introduce new legislation to improve animal welfare as a matter of urgency, more than two years after her department first carried out a consultation.

The issue of animal circuses was highlighted several times by Assembly Members, along with dog fighting, hare coursing, puppy farming and other welfare concerns.

After the debate, a Freedom for Animals spokesperson said: “This debate was much needed and it is clear that all Assembly Members agree that new animal welfare legislation is urgently needed in Northern Ireland. For such legislation to really have any meaning it must include a ban on using animals in circuses, an outdated practice that has no place in a modern, compassionate society and we were delighted that several Members raised this issue directly.

“We trust that the Minister of Agriculture will now respond to the debate, and the evidence already provided by Freedom for Animals, and ensure that legislation is introduced as a matter of urgency.”

In a statement to the press, Robin Newton said: “The current Animal Welfare legislation in Northern Ireland is over thirty years old. With the matter now being debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly it is time for action on this very important issue. Now is the time for the Minister to recognise that animal circuses belong to a bygone age and our more enlightened children are refusing entertainment of this type.”

What can you do

– Boycott circuses with performing animals

Become a Freedom for Animals supporter – you can help to make a difference

– Write to your Assembly Member/TD, asking them to support a ban animal use in circuses. Contact details can be found HERE for Republic of Ireland and HERE for Northern Ireland

– Write to your local newspaper highlighting what is wrong with circuses.

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Click HERE to get involved in our campaigns in the Republic of Ireland and HERE to get involved in Northern Ireland contact us to join our e-mail list.

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