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Northern Ireland: MLAs vote against proposed ban on hunting with dogs

A proposed Bill to ban hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland has been defeated in the Stormont Assembly.

The Private Members' Bill, which was brought by Alliance MLA John Blair, will not now move to the committee stage.

Countryside Alliance Ireland, which campaigned and lobbied against the bill, welcomed the news.

In a statement, Gary McCartney, Director for Countryside Alliance Ireland said:

"We were clear from the start that today's bill was anti-rural and dangerous. Mr. Blair's bill was clumsily drafted and riddled with proposals which if implemented, would not only potentially criminalise every dog owner in Northern Ireland but also represent an attack on the rural way of life.

"The bill's supporters falsely claimed it enjoyed popular support here in Northern Ireland, despite it relying on a consultation process that took submissions from across the globe. It is right that Assembly Members voted against this bill today and that they acknowledged the huge benefit hunting has for rural communities and for the protection of livestock and wildlife from predators.

" We would like to thank MLAs Jonathan Buckley, Jim Alistair, Declan McAleer, William Irwin and Patsy McGlone for their contributions and give a special thank you to the following country sports and farming organisations: The Ulster Farmers Union, National Association of Regional Game Council , Irish Working Terrier Federation, Hunting Association of Northern Ireland , Hunting Association of Ireland, NI Master of Hounds, BASC NI and the Ulster Angling Federation, to name but a few.

" I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those thousands of supporters who live in Northern Ireland who also took the time to complete our online e-petition. With your support we were able to succeed today. Your help reinforces the importance of the rural community coming together to defeat attacks against our way of life."

Prior to the vote today, several news reports both online and in broadcast originally lacked any balance or alternative opinion. After complaints from the Countryside Alliance press office, this coverage was edited to reflect both sides of the debate. A complaint has been made to the BBC, following a one-sided interview on the Today Programme. Supporters will be updated as and when the BBC formally respond.

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