Blair gives presentation to AERA Commitee but can he tell the truth?
Blairs prejudice knows no bounds and from the outset of his presentation to the Agriculture Enterprise and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee he made his own opinions clear, with his dislike for hunting and especially that of terrier work.
His comments clearly show he will not accept the evidence and this Bill has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare. Terrier work is still legal in all jurisdictions of the UK and it is worth noting the comments of…
Scottish Parliament (Rural Affairs Committee Official Report 78):
“The use of terriers in pest control work is necessary as there appear to be few practical alternatives” and “the use of terriers underground to dispatch orphaned cubs which appears to the Committee to be the only practical alternative, and more humane than leaving them to starve.”
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Commenting on the absence of a closed season on shooting vixens, Scottish Rural Affairs Committee Official Report 21st Nov 2000):
“leaving those cubs to die would be the greatest cruelty” and “we will have to support terriers going underground”.
After his presentation Committee members were able to ask questions.
Patsy McGlone painted the picture of how a few friends out wildfowling with their dogs in which they inadvertently chased a wild mammal could be prosecuted for hunting under his Bill despite having no prior intention to do so.
Blair believes that common sense would prevail in such a situation and that the burden of proof would lie with the prosecution to secure a conviction. It was quickly highlighted that Firearms holders may have their firearms removed for months if not years while any investigation takes place as a question mark as to their suitability to continue to hold firearms will be raised
Rosemary Barton, Thomas Buchanan, Harry Harvey and William Irwin also raised serious concerns as to the wording and interpretation of the Bill, however Blair maintained his Bill was clear and explicit and would not accept the wider unintended consequences of his Bill.
He also stated to the committee the Bill would not affect dog walkers and “Quite simply first of all there’s a stipulation that there has to be two dogs or more”. This is simply untrue and I would question his knowledge of his own Bill.
It clearly states in his proposed Bill 6.1 A reference in this Act to the hunting of a wild mammal with a dog includes any case where a wild mammal is pursued by one or more persons and one or more dogs are employed in that pursuit.
Is he intentionally trying to mislead his peers by misrepresenting his Bill and stating falsehoods or does he simply not understand what he is trying to introduce? Either way this gives little comfort to dog owners and country sports enthusiasts across Northern Ireland.
You can watch the presentation in full HERE