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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Big tops return to tourism hotspot
Dog performing at a circus
The council will establish a code of conduct to ensure animal welfare
Circuses featuring animals are to make a comeback in one of Northern Ireland's most popular tourist areas, after the local council ended its long-standing ban.

Moyle Council has not allowed circuses with performing animals onto its properties since the 1990s.

In May, the council turned down a request by Fossett's Circus to use a car park in the Glens of Antrim village of Waterfoot.

However, it has now passed a motion proposed by Sinn Fein councillor Oliver McMullan to allow the circuses to return.

Mr McMullan said the ban was initially imposed "because of the cruelty aspect, which was a very laudable thing to do".

"But as time has gone on, things got more stringent with tighter controls on animal welfare," he added.

Although such circuses were not allowed on council-owned grounds, they could still set up on private land as long as certain conditions were met.


"When circuses come to town, all councils have to issue an entertainments licence to check for health and safety before the licence is granted," he said.

"If they followed all the criteria, the licence would be granted."

He said the council has agreed to establish a code of conduct to ensure the welfare of the animals was maintained.

Ulster Unionist Helen Harding was one of a number of councillors who raised objections to the return of circus animals.

"Animals are kept in confined spaces and there may be questions about the way they are treated," she said.

"The council originally brought in the ban after being approached by an animal rights group."

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