Sinn Féin defends hunting stance after assembly vote

Sinn Féin was forced to defend her position on hunting, after she opposed a bill that would have banned the practice in Northern Ireland.

The party has been repeatedly criticized in the past 24 hours, and has been asked to clarify whether its position is consistent in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

A proposed bill to ban dog hunting in Northern Ireland was defeated Monday at the Stormont Assembly.

The area is still the only part of the UK where hunting wild mammals with dogs is still allowed.

Thirty-eight MLAs voted in favor of the bill on Monday, while 45 voted against it.

Sinn Fein’s opposition to the bill came under scrutiny on Tuesday.

In a statement, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesman Declan McClear said his party «opposes unnecessary cruelty to animals.»

Our partisan position – in the North and the South – is that regulation, not ban, is the best approach.

However, Sinn Féin believed that the Special Members Bill was impractical, flawed and hasty, and at the time we were left in this mandate it was not sufficiently feasible to amend it.

«We have no doubt that this matter will be revisited in the next term when time can be devoted to examining the issue in the round.»

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Sinn Féin last week introduced a bill that would ban exploration and extraction of petroleum by fracking.

Democratic Party leader Colom Eastwood posted a video on Twitter on Tuesday night, calling Sinn Fein’s position «disappointing.»

“It’s really puzzling, given the fact that Sinn Féin in the south says they want to ban fox hunting but not in the north. There is a pattern developing here for Sinn Féin one site in the south and one site in the north.

«But people can see right through it,» Eastwood said.

«Sinn Féin must work together and have one location throughout this island and it must be this position that this barbaric blood sport is urgently banned.»

Alliance leader Naomi Long also questioned the party’s decision to oppose the bill.

«The more they try to explain, the more incomprehensible SF’s decision becomes,» she said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Hunting with dogs has been banned in England, Scotland and Wales since the early 2000s.

The bill garnered significant support during a public consultation with nearly 80% of 18,000 respondents in favor of the ban.

Northern Ireland’s animal welfare charity USPCA said it was disappointed with Monday’s vote.

Chief Executive Brendan Mullane said the result was «inconsistent with the public’s views».

Gary McCartney, director of Countryside Alliance Ireland, welcomed the outcome.

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«We were clear from the start that today’s law was anti-rural and dangerous,» he said.

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