A NUMBER of city councillors have criticised the local authority’s zero-tolerance attitude towards the keeping of horses within the city limits.
More than 180 horses were impounded last year and 50 have been seized so far this year.
Briefing members of the Environmental Strategic Policy Committee about the council’s enforcement of the Control of Horses by-laws, Caroline Curley, Deputy City Manager, said it’s “a disgrace” that almost a quarter of a million euro in taxpayer’s money was spent last year impounding horses which were being kept within the city limits.
She said 184 horses were impounded last year compared to 103 in 2009.
All of the horses were taken to a horse-pound in Cork and the cost of enforcing the by-laws during 2010 was more than €223,000.
Welcoming the level of enforcement, Cllr Orla McLoughlin said she has personally witnessed horses being abused and she said the problem appears to have gotten worse in recent weeks. “The cruelty has to stop, it is the worst I have ever seen and it has gone ridiculous,” she said adding that the problem is becoming more widespread because of the Regeneration process.
Cllr Cormac Hurley criticised the council’s zero tolerance policy.
He said there has been a culture in parts of Limerick where people love their horses and take care of them. “I can’t understand why we don’t grant licences when you can get them in Cork and in Dublin,” he said.
The Caherdavin-based councillor also claimed that stable doors were forced open and horses taken from inside during a recent City Council operation. He compared the incident to common theft and he told the meeting. “You can’t have one law for one and another for others.”
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan, who is chairman of the committee, said he is also aware that there are numerous “decent people” who take care of their animals.
Cllr Quinlivan suggested that a review of the by-laws should be undertaken by the council later in the year.
Cllr Kathleen Leddin proposed that Limerick City Council should build its own horse pound in the city but according to Caroline Curley that is out of the question for health and safety reasons.
Ms Curley said the message needs to go out that people cannot keep horses within the city unless they are granted a licence.
“It is an indictment on people in the city that they are ignoring the law,” she said adding that the money spent on enforcing the by-laws could be spent on other worthwhile initiatives.
Limerick City Council will operate an amnesty for horse owners who cannot care for their animals between February 11 and 14 next.
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