Ban Hunting in Northern Ireland

Hunting in Northern Ireland - the background

Animal welfare is a devolved issue in Northern Ireland meaning the Assembly can make its own decisions on what legal protection to give to animals and doesn’t need to do the same as other parts of the UK.

However, hunting wild mammals with dogs has been illegal everywhere else for many years. Scotland was the first nation to ban fox hunting by introducing the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. Over the last two decades it has been proven that the law is ineffective due to a number of loopholes, the Scottish Government is now rectifying this with a second Bill which will strengthen the existing legislation.

England and Wales banned hunting in 2004, by introducing The Hunting Act. Following the introduction of The Hunting Act, a new sport of trail hunting was introduced. This allows hunts to mimic traditional hunting by following a pre-laid trail of a fox-based scent, so again the situation is far from satisfactory.

Northern Ireland is in a unique position in that it can learn lessons from what has happened elsewhere and introduce a law which works effectively, ending the cruelty of hunting properly. In 2010, Green MLA, Brian Wilson attempted to introduce a Bill to ban fox hunting but this was rejected. Ten years later, John Blair MLA from the Alliance Party also attempted a Private Members Bill which was voted down at stage two last year. Let’s make it third time lucky, help us bring this issue back to Stormont and end hunting for good

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