'Horse-free zones' in Kilkenny City identified

Ban in areas of 'high traffic, tourism or pedestrian areas'

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny

Kilkenny is an area with a lot of “narrow streets, narrow pavements and lots of tourists walking around”.

A “decent part” of Kilkenny City has been identified by Gardaí as viable areas they can stand over for the provision of bye-laws for parts to become “horse-free zones”. The matter came up at last month’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee.

The Council’s environment section is also looking at “areas of concern” to be included in the bye-laws.

There must be a reason for the ban, legally, and this could include a prohibition on horses in parts of the City with “high traffic, pedestrians or tourism areas”.

Gardaí in Kilkenny have identified an area for “horse-free zones” in Kilkenny City that they will be able to stand over.

The matter came up at last month’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee and Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes said: “We’ve identified an area we should be able to stand over.

"We can have a decent part of the City where people are not allowed ride horses through or feed there. I’m concerned with the number of horses in Kilkenny.”

The local authority’s environment section is currently identifying areas of concern within the City in relation to sulkies to bring in bye-laws.

Director of Services at Kilkenny County Council, Tim Butler, said the environment section is looking at “areas of concern”.

He added that there must be a reason for the ban, legally, and this could include bans in part of the City with “high traffic, pedestrians or tourism areas”.

In February of this year, councillors agreed a Notice of Motion to liaise with the Gardaí to explore the idea of creating “horse-free zones” in the city and county.

Mr Butler said the proposed bye-law banning sulkies in certain areas will be sent to Chief Supt Hayes for comment and then it will go before members of the Council to be voted on with or without amendment.

If the bye-law is then passed it will be adopted. Chief Supt Hayes then referred to Section 47 of the Control of Horses Act which allows for the passing of such a bye-law.

This states where horses are causing or may cause a nuisance or danger to persons or damage to property, a local authority can make bye-laws to prohibit a person from “having, keeping, riding or driving a horse in that place or area at any time or at such times as may be specified in the bye-laws”.

Chief Supt Hayes said Kilkenny is an area with a lot of “narrow streets, narrow pavements and lots of tourists walking around”.

He also said Linear Park has to be included in the Section 47 where people are seeing horses being abused and being put in cold water in winter. “Areas where we’ve seen animal cruelty should be included [in the ban],” he added.

The Notice of Motion, which was brought by Cllr Andrew McGuinness earlier this year, also includes a provision for exemptions for special occasions such as funerals and weddings, and uses such as Garda horse patrols.

Last month’s meeting heard that there are a lot of horses tethered in some areas and Chief Supt Hayes suggested carrying out periodical announced and unannounced inspections in areas where there are horses being managed.

Cllr Fidelis Doherty asked if a register could be created of people caught abusing or mistreating animals.

Senior Gardaí told her that upon conviction a judge can bar the future holding of animals but it is up to the District Court judge.

Mr Butler added that there is always the difficulty of what to do when you seize the horses and said “there are a huge amount of horses out there”.

Speaking after the meeting, Fianna Fáil Cllr Andrew McGuinness said: “I’m happy that progress has been made on the proposal I put forward. I did so in response to the ongoing issues associated with cruelty towards horses and the dangers it can present to other road users. It’s a huge problem and this is a positive step forward.

“While I welcome the progress and the good intent behind it, I await to see the full extent of what the exclusion zones will cover and how effective it will be.

“I hope it will be effective in bringing about a positive conclusion to a horrible issue.”

He added that “local communities simply want to see an end to cruelty and safer roads for everyone”.