Today the Western Daily Press has reported: "A hunt saboteur has been given 80 hours community...Read more
On Saturday 27 January hunt sabs came out “in force” to protest at a recent Hunt Ball.
Despite their best efforts to gather support through social media, only four or so people bothered to turn up to protest, demonstrating the extremely low level of support amongst the general population for hunt saboteurs have. While the only local media outlet to cover the protest glossed over that fact, the article was challenged by the Countryside Alliance press office and subsequently changed to include a direct response from Gary McCartney, the Alliance's Ireland Director.
As the social media posts were reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, they would have been obliged to monitor the protest, resulting in an unwelcome drain on the limited police resources. We believe that this resource is best directed at protecting vulnerable people and tackling crime rather than preventing hunt sabs from causing disruption or resorting to violence.
Local businesses, their staff and hunt members should not be subject to this or any type of intimidation or abuse, whether online or in person, for doing business with or partaking in a perfectly legal activity.
Like other hunt saboteurs, they were dressed like paramilitaries with their faces covered, something we had all hoped to have left far in our troubled past. Is this due to lack of public support, deficiencies in their commitment to stand up and be counted or, to help disguise them from police detection?
Saboteurs have a complete disregard for the lives and rights of others. Regardless of whether one disagrees with an activity, they have no right to take the law into their own hands in order to prevent perfectly legal activities from taking place. No one should have to be subjected to their unlawful and selfish activities, with behaviour that is invariably unpleasant and threatening, and abuse hurled even when there are children present, as is often the case.
Violent saboteurs who pose a threat to the public must never be tolerated and there needs to be a consistent approach by police across the Northern Ireland to ensure they are dealt with decisively and effectively. The Countryside Alliance will continue to make every effort to ensure this happens.