O’Neill And Ford Consult On Welfare Of Animals Act Review

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and Justice Minister David Ford today urged the public and animal welfare stakeholders to have their say on the implementation of the Welfare of Animals Act.

dn_screenMinister O’Neill established a Review of the Implementation of the Welfare of Animals Act 2011 following a Private Member’s Motion debate in the Assembly on 31 March 2014. The review is being taken forward by her Department in conjunction with the Department of Justice.

Minister O’Neill said “This is a very wide ranging review, which is considering the way in which the three enforcement bodies (DARD’s Veterinary Service, local councils and the PSNI) are implementing the Act.”

She continued: “As the first step of the review last year, officials held a series of stakeholder discussion sessions to gather evidence on the implementation of the Act.

“I am grateful for the input to the review from the wide range of animal welfare stakeholders who supported these very successful Sessions. They provided a wealth of ideas and suggestions to consider.”

“An interim report has now been produced, which shows the progress to date, and sets out the emerging thinking and recommendations. It is available on both the DARD and DOJ websites and I urge members of the public and stakeholders to submit their views and further evidence during the next eight weeks. The review will take account of those views and any further evidence as it prepares its final report which is due to be published in mid-2015.”

Minister Ford also added: “It is important that the views of society are reflected by the justice system when dealing with cases of animal cruelty, especially given the extreme nature of some of the recent cases that we have witnessed.

“Through the review we can ensure that the measures we have in place for dealing with this type of crime are strong and sufficient and send out the message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated. Whilst DARD is the lead department in the review I would be particularly interested in hearing from stakeholders and the wider public regarding the proposals put forward around sentencing.”