Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and member of the Stormont Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has called on the Stormont Executive to work with the Justice Department and the police to fund a hard-hitting crackdown against the thefts of prized racing pigeons.
Assemblyman Swann is the current North Antrim UUP Chairman, a Past Chairman of the influential Rural Youth Europe organisation, and a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster.
Mr Swann issued his challenge to the Executive after members of the racing pigeon fraternity alerted him to the fact that pigeon thefts were increasing across the locality, and especially in the Ballymena borough.
Mr Swann said: “It has been brought to my attention by the Chairman of one of the local Homing Pigeon clubs that there was an increasing number of thefts of racing pigeons across the Ballymena Borough area during the past few weeks.
“The target for these heartless thieves is mostly breeding stock, so the fanciers have taken care and attention in mating certain blood lines to try and produce the best racing pigeon.
“According to alarming statistics provided to me, five birds have been stolen in the Broughshane area, 30 from the Grove Road area and most recently, 30 from the Kells area.
“Among the shocking factors are that these are not opportunist thefts, but well planned.
“I urgently encourage local pigeon fanciers to increase their loft security, lock doors security lights on lofts.
“These thefts represent a heinous attack on a racing pigeon fraternity which receives no central support of any kind, and those who participate do so for the love of the sport.
“Anyone with information about these atrocious thefts should give it as soon as possible to the police. This is a huge sporting fraternity in not just our North Antrim constituency, but right across our entire Province.
“I want the Justice Minister to give whatever powers they require to stamp out this terrible crime against this sporting fraternity,” said Assemblyman Swann.
More information on the pigeon racing fraternity can be obtained from the website http://www.niracingpigeon.co.uk/