Social Democratic and Labour Party MLAs have launched a campaign aimed at introducing an all-island register of banned offenders for those who have committed animal cruelty offences.
There is currently no central register of those convicted of cruelty or maltreatment of animals. Its introductions would allow authorities across the island to prevent animals being placed in the care of abusers.
Speaking after launching an online petition, Dolores Kelly MLA said:
“For months, SDLP MLAs and local councillors have been working to persuade Stormont Ministers to introduce a central register of people convicted of animal cruelty offences. An all-island register would allow authorities to intervene and prevent animals being placed in the care of convicted abusers. It’s a very simple idea that would prevent immense suffering.
“Those responsible for horrific crimes against helpless animals should face the full force of the law. And while I’m satisfied that our laws for addressing abuse are robust, it is deeply concerning that we are currently in a situation where animals can be rehomed or sold to individuals with a history of maltreatment with no checks. This heightens the risk of serial offending.
“The SDLP has discussed this issue with Minister Charlie McConalogue in the Irish Government and today we are launching a petition calling on Executive Ministers to introduce a banned offenders register. I would encourage everyone to sign and have their say on this important issue.”
Welcoming the launch of the petition, USPCA Chief Executive, Brendan Mullan said:
“Bans from keeping animals are relatively worthless in the absence of a register of those convicted of animal abuse. Currently, offenders can be banned by the Courts one week and the following week acquire animals again.
“Unfortunately, we have seen clear evidence of this in recent court cases, which highlights the glaring ineffectiveness of such bans and underlines the need for significant change to animal welfare regulation. The compilation of a central database, a Register similar to the Sex Offender Register, which can be accessed by reputable pet retailers and animal rehoming charities, would help address this serious issue. Such a Register may not completely solve the problem, but it would be a significant step to closing the current loophole. As it stands, the ultimate penalty for the most serious animal welfare offences, is relatively ineffective.
“We would urge the public to sign the on-line petition to register their support for this important campaign to establish an Animal Cruelty Offenders Register.”