Patrick Brown MLA welcomes his appointment as Vice Chair of the All Party Group on Animal Welfare following its first meeting at Stormont last week commemorating the reconstruction of the group.
Mr Brown said: ‘I am delighted to have been elected as Vice Chair of Stormont’s APG on Animal Welfare, joining colleagues Chair John Blair MLA, Secretary Kellie Armstrong MLA and Treasurer Claire Sugden. As Alliance Party Animal Welfare Spokesperson, I am looking forward to supporting this APG to deliver for animals across NI. I have identified several priorities in this area and have tabled a number of questions to Minister Poots to find out what steps his department is taking on animal welfare issues.’
He continued: ‘In addition to Alliance’s commitment to reintroduce legislation on banning hunting with dogs, my Minister’s questions ask for details on important animal welfare issues, such as what steps DAERA is taking to regulate the third party sale of puppies in legislation through ‘Lucy’s Law’, as well as what is being done to proactively prevent illegal puppy breeding and regulate private canine fertility clinics in Northern Ireland. Puppy farming is a huge problem in NI, and animals suffer from a lack of regulation. That is why I am also asking whether the department currently holds a list of animal abusers, as a first step to establishing an offenders register for animal abusers. I am also inquiring about requiring CCTV in slaughterhouses, banning the cruel practises of self-loosening snares and circuses with wild animals in NI, and rolling out microchipping and registration for kittens in the same way as is currently done for puppies. We need to work to protect our animals from harm, but also have safeguards in place to prevent harm in the first place. Having information about current steps being taken will allow us to plan for legislation we hope to bring in the future, and hugely aid the work of our APG in the meantime.’
Mr Brown added: ‘In our current situation at Stormont with the DUP preventing an Executive, All-Party Groups are one of the few ways MLAs can advance the legislative agenda. Alliance is working hard to do all we can for constituents despite the actions of the DUP, and are committed to using AGPs as a vehicle to drive positive and progressive change.’