Ireland –-(Ammoland.com)- Earlier this week I had an unpleasant experience with a crowd of masked, spitting, snarling anarchists which many people in the countryside will unfortunately recognize.
The difference is that this was not at a hunt meet, on the grouse moors or in the badger cull areas, but in Manchester city centre outside the Conservative Party conference.
Politicians, delegates and journalists trying to enter the conference secure area were visibly shaken by the abuse and intimidation they were subjected to and many have spoken and written about it since.
All decent people would, of course, share their view that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable, but some might also be keen to point out that intimidation, aggression and abuse is not only unacceptable when aimed at prominent people in an urban setting.
This sort of behaviour is all too common in the countryside and it was no surprise to see hunt saboteur and anti-badger cull branding prominent amongst the ‘hard core’ of anarchist protestors in Manchester.
The uniform was black and paramilitary in style with face masks, balaclavas and dark glasses used to hide the identity of those who were keen to hurl abuse and intimidate those they were abusing.
Inside the conference the Alliance held successful and thought provoking fringe meetings on conservation and on broadband roll-out in rural areas, as we had at the Labour conference in Brighton the week before. We also hosted a very well attended reception where Defra Secretary Liz Truss said some kind words about our work to an audience which included over 30 MPs.
The real impact of this Conservative conference, however, might not just be on the subjects we had planned to raise, but on another issue which we have long campaigned.
The wearing of face coverings is a major tactic of extremists.
It is deliberately intimidatory and in many circumstances protects those who commit offences from prosecution. It is no coincidence that no-one has ever been charged, let alone convicted, in relation to the last four serious assaults by animal rights activists on hunt staff and supporters which took place as far apart as Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
Yet the law on face coverings remains over-complicated and overly proscriptive. Police officers cannot use their own judgement and order the removal of clothing being used to hide identity. Earlier this year thousands of you lobbied your Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioners to make it as easy as possible for the police to use the powers they do have, but we believe a change in the law is long overdue.
Now that so many Ministers and MPs have experienced at first hand the weakness of the current law we will be raising with them once again the need for legislation to protect people in every part of the country.
Follow on Twitter @CA_TimB
Tim is interviewed in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine – pick up a copy to read his thoughts on our campaigning work, especially our hunting campaign.
Countryside Alliance Ireland has been active since the early 1960s, providing Irish sportsmen and women with high levels of information and advice and representation. Over the years as the political environment has changed we have evolved into a highly effective campaigning organisation. Countryside Alliance Ireland is governed by an elected “Board” made up from members throughout Ireland. The Board sets policy and oversees financial and operational matters. Countryside Alliance Ireland partner groups nominate members of the “Board” also, making it truly representative of country sports interests in Ireland. Visit: www.countrysideallianceireland.org