Another attempt to ban hunting by the Alliance Party fails

Alliance Party councillors have been accused of ‘wasting vital council time’ by rural campaigners after a motion which proposed an end to hunting, failed to pass at a full meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

If successful the motion, proposed by Alderman Julian McGrath and seconded by Councillor Neil Kelly, would have forced the council to write to DAERA and The Committee for Agriculture, Rural Affairs and the Environment to signal its official opposition to hunting and to call for an end to the practice.

However, a secondary motion proposed by Sinn Fein and the DUP, which instead called for further consultation to take place, won the support of the majority of councillors including members of the UUP. The Alliance’s original motion therefore failed.

Gary McCartney, Director of Countryside Alliance Ireland said: “ We are pleased this motion has failed to pass but, ultimately, it was a total waste of council time. It is staggering that after failing to get their anti-rural legislation passed at Stormont, Alliance Party local councillors are now attempting to clog up a local agenda with pointless motions that serve no purpose in reality. Council resources and time should clearly be spent on addressing pressing issues facing the residents of Antrim and Newtownabbey.”

In December, MLAs voted against John Blair’s bill which would have outlawed hunting with hounds. The bill attracted significant opposition from countryside groups who argued it was “dangerous”, as it risked making all dog owners potential criminals in the event of a dog chasing a wild mammal.

At the time, Mr Blair, a South Antrim MLA, said he hoped to reintroduce the legislation as soon as possible in the next assembly mandate.

But an Alliance Party e-petition which was created shortly after the defeat and called on the public to show their ‘support for a ban on all hunting of wild mammals with dogs’,  failed to gain anywhere near the number of signatures as Mr. Blair’s own private members petition. At the time of its original release, Mr. Blair was criticised by rural groups for relying on signatories from across the globe and not Northern Ireland.

CAI would ask members to continue to monitor your local town and county council meeting agendas. If there are any matters relating to rural issues that we could assist with, please contact the Countryside Alliance Ireland immediately.

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