LIMERICK City and County Council has launched a massive crackdown on horses kept illegally in housing estates – giving owners just days to remove them.
The local authority has written to a number of people in Ballinacurra Weston to warn them to remove their animals from public land by this Wednesday, warning them of fines of up to €17,500 and imprisonment for six months.
If they do not comply, the council has said it will use its powers under the Control of Horses bye-laws, which prohibits the keeping of horses in the city without a licence.
But the council’s action has been criticised as a “ticking timebomb” by Limerick Animal Welfare volunteer Anna Gallagher, who claimed that the threat of having horses removed has led to a spike in anti-social behaviour on the southside.
In a letter to a resident – seen by the Limerick Leader – the local authority warns that allowing horses roam on green areas causes a safety risk to the public and residents.
“Also, such behaviour is not in the interests of the welfare of the horses,” they add.
The council also warns that “any person in breach of the requirements of the Control of Horses Act 1996 may be issued with a fine, or is liable on summary conviction in the District Court of a fine not exceeding €4000 and imprisonment for up to six months. On indictment in the Circuit Court, that person is liable to a fine not exceeding €17,500 and imprisonment for up to two years.”
Ms Gallagher, who lives in Kennedy Park, says the letters have caused “fear and panic” in Ballinacurra Weston.
She claimed stolen cars are being “whizzed around” the estate as unrest spreads.
“I don’t condone the actions of the people who are doing this. But it is a volatile situation, people are passionate about their horses, and it is the one thing which keeps these kids from anti-social behaviour,” Ms Gallagher told the Limerick Chronicle.
She added a horse project is crucial to nurture children, saying they could be guided to follow careers as equine vets or jockeys.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said they had received a number of complaints in relation to horses roaming on green areas.
“Arising out of these complaints, the local authority has written to a number of people in the area outlining their responsibilities regarding horses in Limerick City,” they said.
The spokesperson confirmed that just one horse has been seized in Ballinacurra Weston, adding that under bye-laws, it is illegal to own, keep or be in charge of a horse in the city without a licence, ID micro-chip or horse passport.
Limerick Animal Welfare is organising a special meeting on the control of horses next Tuesday, August 23, at 7.30pm in the Ballinacurra Weston community centre.
Members of the gardai and local councillors are expected to be in attendance.
All are welcome to attend the event to air their concerns.