Laois County Councillors have called for stricter penalties to be imposed on those who take part in sulky races.
The issue came up at today’s meeting of the Graiguecullen/Portarlington Municipal District which was held virtually.
Fine Gael Councillor Aisling Moran said that more action is needed before ‘there is a serious accident and someone is killed’.
She explained how the Knockbeg Road, Sleaty Road and around Mageny in the south of the county have become hotbeds for these illegal races.
In support of Cllr Moran, Cllr Padraig Fleming explained how people living in these areas are very worried.
He said: “A lot of people are concerned because you can be driving on the road and the next minute you come upon a race – that is very dangerous.
“And then if you hit them, you could end up being liable.”
Cllr Moran said: “Often, by the time the Gardai get there, the race is over.
“But I can’t understand why the horses aren’t seized. To own a horse you must have correct papers and a microchip.
“If these horses are found to be without this information, they should be immediately taken.
“These animals are often being kept in appalling conditions – filthy dirty and left out in all sorts of weather.
“If I drive a car without insurance and are stopped by Gardai, my car will be taken.”
But Sinn Fein Cllr Aidan Mullins explained what he believed to be the problems with such an approach.
He said: “If the council takes the horse, they have to pay to have it put into a pound or put down.
“And these lads will claim they don’t own the animal because getting a new horse is cheaper than having to pay any fine.
“They are clever and they know how the system works – and how to use it.”