Circuses using wild animals in Larne and Carrick could face ban

Circuses using wild animals may be banned from council-owned land.
Circuses using wild animals may be banned from council-owned land.

Circuses that use wild animals in their acts could be banned from bringing their shows to council-owned land in Mid and East Antrim.

The local authority currently has no policy in place to deal with the controversial issue of animals in circuses.

Larne Borough Council was the only one of the three legacy councils which had taken an official stance on the matter, whereby it refused to make council land available for circuses which included performing animals in their programme.

At the latest meeting of the policy and resources committee, councillors were presented with a raft of options and asked to agree on a way forward.

Coast Road Councillor Gordon Lyons proposed that the council should prohibit the use of council land for circuses who use wild animals, describing this as “a sensible road for us to go down”.

Cllr Jim Brown seconded the proposal, adding: “By definition, wild animals belong in the wild.”

Knockagh representative, Cllr Paul Sinclair also supported the move and said it was “inherently cruel” to use wild animals in circuses.

However, Cllr Declan O’Loan felt that prohibiting circuses from using council land would be “largely ineffectual”, claiming that most circuses tend to use privately-owned land.

TUV member Cllr Ruth Wilson believed banning animals would “curtail the enjoyment” of circus-goers.

She added: “I have horses and ponies and I find they enjoy taking part in events.

“Children also enjoy coming to see them doing things they have learned.”

Despite these concerns, the proposal was carried, with eight members voting in favour and six against.

Council officers will now begin work on developing this policy, which will then come back to the committee at a later date for adoption by members.