Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has said that ‘Finn’s Law’ is an important issue and one that he is hopeful can be developed within the lifetime of this Assembly.
Speaking after an Assembly debate on the issue, Mr Poots said: “I wholeheartedly recognise the invaluable work carried out by brave our service animals in Northern Ireland. My Department takes the welfare of animals, including service animals, very seriously and has been keeping the matter of Finn’s Law and the position in Scotland under careful review.
“I am sympathetic to introducing extra protection for service animals here. I can see how being the only jurisdiction of the UK that does not afford that extra protection, has the potential to reflect adversely on our reputation as a custodian of animal welfare.”
Finn’s Law came into effect in June 2019 when the UK Government amended the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) in England and Wales to provide specific protections for service animals which have been attacked when on duty.
Setting out the way forward, the Minister said: “My Department has taken some initial steps to identify the evidence base to take this matter forward and I will therefore be discussing the issue with my Executive colleagues.
“Thereafter I plan to bring forward a consultation and, depending on the outcome of any consultation, introduce legislation to the House - a process that I hope, with the support of the Assembly, can be developed within this term.”
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