STATE funding being spent on seizing horses in Limerick city must be reviewed given renewed financial pressures on City Hall, a former mayor of the city has said.
Independent councillor John Gilligan said the council is “squandering” money on horses, as it emerged that over €65,000 has been spent on seizing horses illegally kept in the city in the first three months of this year.
A total of €65,664 was been spent on impounding 71 horses in the first quarter of 2012. The horses seized recently were found in the regeneration areas of Moyross, Southill and Prospect, as well as in graveyards, industrial estates and halting sites. The greatest number of horses seized this year to date was in Moyross, when 10 horses were impounded in one day in February. This is in addition to spending over €391,400 on impounding 260 horses last year - equating to over €1,000 a day.
Under council by-laws, it is illegal to keep horses within the city area without a licence - and these are very rarely granted.
“This is beyond me. This is a huge herd of horses. Will our grandchildren still be here talking about this in years to come? We’re spending €1,000 a day picking up some bloody nag and is it worth it?,” said Cllr Gilligan.
“We’re squandering money and we have to re-examine this entire area. Money is becoming more and more scarce and we find that for people living in the city, the housing department can’t afford to provide a new back door for them.”
Caroline Curley, director of service at Limerick City Council, said as the horses are often in green space areas there is a difficulty in identifying the owners and prosecuting them before the district court. She speculated that horses are being abandoned in the city as the value of horses is “very little at the moment”. Ms Curley complimented the gardai who assist them with seizures, adding: “We couldn’t do what we do without them.”
Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said the amount of money being spent in this area is “colossal”, while committee member Sean Griffin said the ongoing debate about horses in council chambers is akin “to flogging a dead horse.” Labour councillor Gerry McLoughlin said there is a “circle of fear” stretching across the city, with young children racing sulkies, which he said is “making a disgrace of the city”.