Limerick County Council defends use of public land to store horses

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

A DECISION to use a plot of publicly owned land in Newcastle West to house horses removed from a local council estate has been defended, despite concerns that the animals are being neglected and are in poor health.

A DECISION to use a plot of publicly owned land in Newcastle West to house horses removed from a local council estate has been defended, despite concerns that the animals are being neglected and are in poor health.

Limerick County Council is using a field off the Station Road to house ponies which were removed from green areas in the Sharwood housing estate. However last month a number of horses broke out from the field, prompting complaints from residents of the nearby Sycamore Crescent estate.

Local councillor Damien Riedy has since called for this “pilot scheme” for horse control to be reviewed, claiming that the welfare of the horses needs to be “more tightly monitored”.

However a spokesperson for Limerick County Council said that after some initial teething problems, the number of horses in the field has since been reduced, and the field itself is now properly secured.

Cllr Riedy, who raised the issue at this month’s Newcastle West area local committee meeting, said that he had several concerns about the project.

“You had a situation there recently where there were 22 horses in the one field and it’s just not acceptable... The field is not big enough to keep that many horses in and you can see yourself in some cases that they are in poor health.

“I would like to know if the standards that are expected of horse-owners throughout the country are also applied in this case... is their welfare being looked after to an acceptable degree?”

Cllr Riedy added that the field in question has been the site of illegal dumping in the past. “I do welcome this scheme, I want to make sure that’s clear. However I’m not sure if this location... is where it should be taking place”.

The council spokesperson said that a third party has now been given responsibility to maintain the horses, for which their owners pay a small fee. He added that the field is now properly fenced and the premises is receiving regular inspections.