LIMERICK City Council has spent almost €500 every day this year on rounding up horses in the city, new figures show.
And at this week’s environmental committee meeting, councillors asked management at City Hall to make exceptions to the law which states you cannot keep a horse in the city limits without a licence.
Councillors were told some €42,100 has been spent in the first three months of this year on the control of illegally-kept horses, with 70 seizures in that time. This equates to €467 each day.
The seizures include one single operation in January, where 19 horses were rounded up on the Childers Road. The majority of seizures, 41, took place in northside neighbourhoods, however.
Under City Hall bye-laws, it is illegal to keep horses within the city without a licence - and these are very rarely given.
Director of service Caroline Curley confirmed there is an increase in spend on this time last year - when some €300 a day was spent.
But councillors think City Hall should now show some leniency.
Referring to an incident in St Mary’s Park, where two horses were seized in January, Cllr John Gilligan said: “Sometimes we see appalling cruelty, which beggars belief and is hard to credit. Yet on the other hand, we have people who have had horses for generations, and they are kept as pets. The stables are in such great condition, the only improvement you could have is a television set. Yet we bring the animal rescue unit down and get them to kick their doors in,” he said.
Cllr Cormac Hurley, Fine Gael, asked if gardai have the powers to break open doors to seize horses from stables, stating: “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
But Ms Curley told the former Garda that the force does indeed have the power to seize horses in this manner.
Former Independent councillor Sean Griffin, who sits as a sectoral interest on the committee, called for a reassessment of the control of horse laws. “People I know all my life have had horses and they look after them better than they look after their kids in some cases,” he said. “I do not think City Council would have passed this [by-law] if it meant every single horse.”
Ms Curley said: “The by-laws are there. They were adopted by Limerick City Council. Horses are required to have a licence. Any owner who does not have a licence, is breaking the law.”