Countryside campaigners protest ahead of House of Commons vote to ban hunting with dogs.

The British government has said that it will bring forward new proposals on hunting before Easter. However, countryside campaigners have renewed their protests against an outright ban on foxhunting. The campaigners came to Westminster today and blocked the streets to make their voices heard about the criminalisation of hunting wild animals with dogs. Many of them believe that Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to destroy their way of life and is completely out of touch with rural life.

We do nothing that's wrong, nothing that's cruel, nothing that's sadistic.

The majority of Members of Parliament believe that hunting with dogs is cruel and want it banned. Any change will require legislation. Speaking in the House of Commons on the matter, Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael says that MPs on both sides of the house are free to vote.

There are three options available. Hunting could continue under self-regulation. Hunting with dogs could be banned completely. Fox hunting could be under licence. The vote will take place this evening and tomorrow it will be debated in the House of Lords. Despite the vote, it could be some time before legislation is brought forward by the government to deal with the issue.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 18 March 2002. The reporter is Brian O'Connell.