Thirty-seven horses are to be returned to Kilkenny City following their unlawful seizure on lands adjoining a halting site some 19 months ago.
The animals were seized in February 2016. Twenty-nine horses were taken during the seizure, with a number in foal at the time.
Out of the 29 horses seized, nine had microchips, but these chips did not comply with the relevant regulations. Two horse passports were produced at the time of the seizure but these documents did not correspond with any of the seized animals.
Judge Colin Daly delivered judgement in the case on Monday and said that the appeal was brought by Johnny Carthy, who successfully claimed that he has an interest in the animals.
The judge outlined how there was evidence before the court that none of the seized animals had the relevant microchips or passports as required by law. The judge also remarked that the land on which the animals were kept was ‘not fit to be equine-registered’.
Judge Daly told the court that he had to consider if the seizure was properly carried out.
The judge said that a Department of Agriculture official, who was the authorised official in charge of the seizure on the day, had accepted that he did not demonstrate to people at the time of the seizure that he was the authorised official and nor did he produce documentation to that effect.
The judge added that the official did not tell Mr Carthy what statutory powers he was using to effect the seizure.
“It is a fundamental right that every citizen knows under what authority their property is being interfered with and I do not think that this was complied with,” he said.
The judge ruled that the seizure was not lawful and that the horses are to be returned to the appellant.
The 29 horses were seized from lands adjacent to the Wetlands Halting Site and from Daly's Hill on the Circular Road.
The judge heard the appeal on September 26 and delivered his judgement on Monday.
It is understood that the cost of keeping the animals in livery for the past 19 months and has been footed by the Department of Agriculture.