Cllr Malcolm Noonan who convened the meeting
Following recent cases of animal abuse and neglect highlighted in Kilkenny City over recent weeks Cllr Malcolm Noonan has said that the issue could only be addressed through collaborative actions with all agencies and in the case of animal welfare issues in the Traveller community; positive engagement with Traveller men and young people in particular.
Cllr Noonan was speaking after he had convened an inter agency meeting on Friday to discuss recent events and how they might be challenged. The meeting was attended by Senior Gardai from the Kilkenny division, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, Kilkenny County Council’s community development and Traveller Welfare staff and an animal welfare campaigner.
‘I am encouraged by the level of activity since these recent tragic events unfolded. The Gardai in particular have been very proactive in meeting with both city based Traveller communities on Friday morning and with their ongoing investigation into the death of the pony at the Linear Park’ said Cllr Noonan.
He said that if any good were to come out of these recent events it was that there would now be a sustained level of engagement to ensure that all animals are chipped and have passports and that excess numbers of animals are surrendered if possible to rescues.
‘In the longer term we need to advance both Horse Projects because as has been shown in other counties, that is the most effective way of managing animal welfare, maintaining sustainable numbers and ensuring positive community engagement with young Traveller men’ he said.
All those present at the meeting spoke of the need to challenge some of the language that was being used on social media in particular as much of it was deeply offensive and racist. ‘I am aware that many members of the Travelling community locally are frightened by what they are hearing and reading. We need people in leadership roles within our community to challenge this at every turn. It would seem that in the current climate it is possible to make racist and discriminatory remarks about people without any sanction. Civic and church leaders must come to the fore to say clearly that hate speech has no place in our society’ said Cllr Noonan.
He said that from the local authority perspective that our role was to furnish the post mortem report as soon as possible to the gardai to help them conclude their investigation into the incident at the linear park and to ensure that there is greater cooperation between agencies both in response to incidents as they arise and in long term animal welfare issues in the City and County.
Cllr Noonan expressed a hope that more of these inter agency meetings would take place in the future. ‘We are also having discussions with Kilkenny Traveller Community Movement (KTCM) and Pavee Point. Ultimately we will only get to a space that we want to be in where there is ongoing collaboration and where a level of trust can be established between all parties. Animal abuse and neglect is intolerable, whoever is responsible. People need to report incidents to the Gardai. We need out of hours services to be resourced and we need a significant increase in investment in animal welfare from the State. I hope that we can move on together in a spirit of cooperation from these tragic events and make Kilkenny a safe place for our fellow creatures’ concluded Cllr Noonan.