Up to 20 horse-free streets in Kilkenny by mid-2020, says council

Draft plans for public input due to go on display in coming weeks

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

Sulky

File pic of sulky: New bylaws proposed for Kilkenny

Around 20 streets in Kilkenny City may be ‘horse-free zones’ by the middle of this year, local councillors have heard.

At Monday’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council, senior engineer Frank Stafford updated members on proposed bylaws which would bring about the exclusion zones. Gardaí have helped identify the streets, and the list could be expanded. Further advice is being sought as to how the bylaws will be implemented — if they will involve fines or district court summons.

Mr Stafford said it was hoped to bring the draft bylaws to public consultation by March or April, for a period of two months. It will then likely be June or July by the time they return before members for approval.

Already this year, five counts have taken place of horses on land in and around the city. Several sites are being used to keep animals without landowners’ permission. Mr Stafford said 15 sites had been identified, and 11 landowners have signed up to allow the council enter and remove unauthorised animals.

The average number of horses is between 50 and 70, but has currently been reduced to around 30/35, with a number recently seized and others surrendered. Each animal seized costs about €1,100 between the cost of seizure, vet assessments, and housing for a period of time. The horses are unfortunately of a low value, and can easily be replaced by others when they are removed.

Cllr Andrew McGuinness, who originally proposed the idea of horse-free zones, welcomed the work done in the area of animal welfare: “We as a council have upped our game,” he said.

Meanwhile, a council committee with a focus on animal welfare is to be established in the weeks ahead. Cllr McGuinness said a ‘progressive’ committee was originally set up over five years ago in relation to the dog shelter/re-homing, and suggested re-establishing it.

Mr Stafford said there was no problem reconvening that committee. He said it was originally relating to dog welfare, but it could be expanded to horses as well.

Cllr McGuinness said it could simply be ‘animal welfare’, and proposed the committee be re-established. This was seconded by Cllr Tomás Breathnach (Labour) and agreed.