No plans to ban farmers after city cruelty conviction

FARMS Minister Michelle O’Neill says there is no need to introduce new legislation to permanently ban farmers from keeping animals following the conviction of a man at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court for permitting an act of cruelty under the Welfare of Animals Act 1972.

The farmer pleaded guilty to permitting an act of cruelty and was convicted under the Welfare of Animals Act 1972 and was fined £750 plus £24 costs.

The Farms Minister said she understood this was the first time the farmer had been convicted for animal cruelty.

Lord Morrow asked the Minister whether she intended to introduce “legislation to permanently ban farmers from keeping livestock following a conviction of animal cruelty at Londonderry Magistrates Court, if there are previous convictions.”

But Mrs O’Neill said: “I am content that the legislation in place provides Courts with the powers to disqualify those persons convicted of animal welfare offences from owning and keeping animals.”

She said she had been advised by the Minister of Justice that the Lord Chief Justice, in his Programme of Action on Sentencing, is enhancing the structures by which the judiciary ensure consistent and appropriate sentencing and that sentencing guidelines on offences of animal cruelty heard in the Magistrates’ Courts will be developed in the near future.