Sulky racing should be assisted, not banned, says councillor.
Cllr David Doran described the act as “barbaric and cruel” and added that the council should not be “pandering to any community which engages in it.”
Members of Tipperary County Council heard this week that attempts to ban sulky racing in the county would prove fruitless, and a better approach to getting racing off the public roads, would be to provide appropriate facilities.
The monthly meeting held in the Civic Offices in Clonmel debated the matter for some time having been raised by Cllr David Doran who described the act as “barbaric and cruel” adding that the council should not be “pandering to any community which engages in it.”
Cllr Doran, who has raised this matter on a number of occasions in the past, said that he fears a fatality will occur as a result of sulky racing and he added that the local authority should not accept it. By doing nothing, the council is going along with it, he said.
Cllr Martin Browne said that sulky racing is illegal at the present time and should be dealt with as such. He added that the Traveller Horse Owners Association are trying to deal with issues and are working on it. He also noted that Kilkenny County Council introduced bye-laws banning sulky racing, but said that it is “ not worth the paper it is written on.”
Cllr Browne pointed out too that throughout the Aintree Festival, horses were driven as hard as they could be, including over the 36 fence Grand National, where a number of animals had to be put down afterwards, and there was no uproar over this.“Don't get me wrong, I don't condone sulky racing, but neither can we be hypocritical about this,” he said.
However, Fianna Fail Councillor John Hogan took a different view and said that he did not support the banning of sulkies on the road. Sulky racing is a different matter, he said, but he offered the view that if proper facilities were provided for racing, it would be far better for everyone concerned.
“We should be working with these people to provide the facilities for them to race. In that way, it is much safer than having racing on the public road, but it's not taking away a leisure pursuit and sport which goes back as far as Circus Maximus - one of the oldest world sports.
“We have facilities in this county for racing of cars and there is no difficulty with it - if we had something similar for sulkies it would solve a lot of problems because the racing could take place in a safe environment. Banning them will solve nothing,” Cllr Hogan said.
The council also heard of many cases of loose horses on the roads of the county including at Littleton/Ballynonty near the old Bord na Mona briquette factory where Cllr Sean Ryan reported twenty six horses running loose in the area. He called on the Department of Agriculture to investigate this situation immediately.
Director of Services Mr Sean Keating said that stray horses on the public road if they are a danger to people or property, is a matter for the council, but animal welfare is a matter for the Department of Agriculture. Attempts are being made to update the Control of Horses Act 2012 to make the bye-laws more manageable, he said - the current ones are very unenforceable.
Meanwhile, Cllr Seamus Hanafin said that accidents arising out of stray horses on the road should be treated as seriously as hit-and-run accidents. And, any horses not chipped in accordance with regulation, should be dealt with in a very punitive manner, he said.