THE owners of horses seized by Limerick City Council will no longer have to pay an up-front fee in order to secure the release of their animals.
Until now, any horses seized within the city limits have been taken to a pound in Cork where they were destroyed unless the release fee - more than €1,000- was paid in full.
However, Limerick City Council has reviewed its policy in the wake of a recent High Court judgement, which ruled that it is unlawful to demand the full payment of the release-fee before returning the horses to their owners.
Although, the ruling related to another local authority area, it is likely it would also apply in Limerick in the event of any appeal being lodged by local horse owners.
From now on, seized horses will be returned to their owners once they agree to pay the release-fee in instalments and agree to keep their horses outside the city limits.
The decision of Limerick City Council to review its policy was made after the seizure of 13 horses in Moyross last month sparked a near riot.
Around a dozen young men wearing balaclavas and armed with sticks and other weapons caused thousands of euro worth of damage whole riding around on horseback for several hours.
In the wake of the seizure of the horses on April 22, last angry horse owners staged a protest outside the regeneration offices at Watch House Cross.
The horse owners also submitted a solicitors letter highlighting the recent High Court decision.
It is understood that following representations from a number of community leaders in Moyross a number of the horses have since been returned to their owners.
Under current byelaws, it is illegal to keep or own a horse within the administrative area of Limerick City Council without a licence.
However, since the introduction of the bye-laws more than a decade ago, no licences have been granted.
Despite, Limerick City Council spending hundreds of thousands of euro a year seizing illegal horses, the problem still exists in parts of the city
Yesterday, at least a dozen horses were being openly kept in Moyross with four alone grazing in Delmege shortly after midday.