Green Party NI North Down candidate Rachel Woods has pledged to continue to work on animal welfare and animal rights in the next Assembly mandate.

Rachel said: "It is incredibly disappointing that Northern Ireland is still the only part of the UK without a ban on hunting with dogs. The Green Party NI was the first party to introduce a law to ban hunting, but this was voted down by Stormont, in 2011, and again when another ban was proposed last year. It is long overdue that these horrific practices are outlawed.

“I submitted a public petition to the Assembly in December 2020 calling for the creation and implementation of Lucy's Law, regulations which puts limits the sale of puppies and kittens. We have a lot still to do on puppy farming and the illegal breeding and sales of animals.

“I am also working with the Justice for Reggie campaigners in England who campaign on closing the loopholes in the roll out and enforcement of Lucy’s Law - something we should consider looking at now, rather than waiting and repeating the same mistakes.

“I would like to see more powers and resources given to local councils across Northern Ireland to allow the monitoring and enforcement of breeding standards.

“A key priority for me is fighting against the DUP Minister’s badger cull included in the new Bovine TB Strategy. Badgers are a protected species, and the evidence is clear that culls do not work. I am deeply concerned with the proposal, and I am supporting the legal action which is now being taken against this. I would also like to see reform of Animal Welfare legislation, and the reform of planning legislation with regard to protected species and animals, which is currently not fit for purpose.

“We also need to empower police forces to develop and implement local wildlife-crime strategies and provide resources to enable the courts to develop expertise in animal cruelty cases and adopt sentencing guidelines for wildlife crime."