I welcome the fact that this ban has finally become permanent. It was the first motion I introduced when elected to the Assembly in 2007.
It has taken a long time and North Down representatives have played important roles in the campaign to ban this barbaric so called sport.
40 years the MP for Bangor the late Bertie McConnell introduced a Bill to ban coursing in the old Northern Ireland Parliament. Although it was passed by the Commons, it was delayed by the Senate and fell when the Parliament was prorogued in 1972.
In 1973 my North Down Alliance Party colleague Lord Dunleath introduced a similar Bill to the Assembly. However, that Assembly was also abolished and the Bill made no progress. He tried again in 1983, and although that Assembly supported the proposal, it too fell before the legislation could be enacted.
Like my former colleagues I have a long-standing interest in the issue of hare coursing. in the 1970s and early 1980s I used to spend my Boxing Days protesting in the freezing cold at Crebilly, while the hares inside were torn apart by hounds.
It was sickening to hear the screams of the hares and the shouting of the spectators.
In 1980, I even wrote to the then Secretary of State calling on him to reintroduce the legislation that had been passed by the Assembly before it was prorogued.
I welcome the fact that the ban has now become permanent and that the barbaric sport of hare coursing will now follow cockfighting and badger-baiting into the annals of history. Hare coursing and other blood sports have no place in the twenty-first century.