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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 15:52 GMT
Peace bird shooting MLA condemned
Jim Shannon
Mr Shannon says he was the only MLA on the trip
A Northern Ireland Assembly member has come under fire after returning from a holiday shooting doves in South America.

Strangford DUP representative Jim Shannon was one of 17 people on the trip to Argentina earlier this month.

"Over there is somewhere in the region of 60 million of them (doves). They're a pest and they're treated as vermin," he said.

However, Mr Shannon's actions have been condemned by the USPCA.

"We find it somewhat perverse that any local politician is motivated to fly from Northern Ireland to Argentina to shoot hundreds of doves under the banner of pest control," said a spokesman for the animal welfare charity.

"For the sake of our native wildlife we trust this venture does not involve any exchange visit."

Jim Shannon continued: "There is a pest control system out there and we were away participating in that.

'Only MLA'

"There were people from Italy, people from the UK mainland and a lot of people from Northern Ireland from all across different religious and political affiliations, but I was the only MLA there I have to say."

Mr Shannon would not be drawn on the number of doves he shot, but it has been suggested the total could have been as high as 9,000.

But the MLA did say that every bird he killed was used by local people.

"I ate them myself and they ate them as well, " added Mr Shannon, who said such holidays were also good for the Argentinean economy.

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