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Laois Councillor calls on Chief Superintendent to confiscate ‘unchipped or unregistered’ horse to deter sulky racing

Laois County Councillor Aisling Moran has continued with her efforts to have sulky racing stamped out in Laois.

At last week’s Graiguecullen-Portlarlington Municipal meeting, Cllr Moran raised the issue of racing of a single horse and trap on rural roads near Ballickmoyler, Knockbeg and Sleaty.

The Fine Gael Cllr went further yesterday and brought a motion to the full sitting of Laois County Council, calling on Chief Superintendent John Scanlan and his force to act.

She said: “I am calling on the Council to contact the Chief Superintendent to put in place measures to confiscate horses that are not registered or chipped, in particular in relation to sulky racing on backroads all over the county as this is a serious health and safety issue and needs to be addressed.”

Cllr Moran’s motion was seconded by Cllr Padraig Fleming who explained that many of the people who live on the rural roads concerned are fearful of an accident involving a sulky race.

Cllr Moran expressed her surprise of when she pursued the matter to see who was the relevant authority to deal with this, it was neither the gardai or the Department of Agriculture that she was sent to – instead, it was the Department of Housing of Laois County Council.

Cllr Moran said: “Imagine my surprise when I was directed to the Housing Department in Laois County Council. What is the sense in the Housing Department being responsible for sulky racing?

“How does it not fall under the remit of the Gardai and the Department of Agriculture jointly.

“The problem needs to stop being passed around and both the Department of Agriculture and the Gardai need to step up to the mark and find a solution to this serious animal welfare, road safety, public safety, health and safety and child protection issues, to name a few.

“It has been highlighted so many times now that it seriously needs to be addressed.

“Here’s a solution, when the Gardai are called out to a sulky race, they should scan the horse to see who it is registered to and if it has no chip then the horse should be confiscated and the person in charge of the horse should be fined.

“The fine should be enough to cover the cost of keeping the horse in a shelter. Then, if and when the horse is fostered out to a good home, the person fostering should after a year be allowed to be the registered owner of the animal.

“At the moment if a person fosters a horse they are not allowed to be the registered owner. This rule stops a number of people fostering horses.

“We need to make sure that these animals are housed and treated properly. We need to change the bye-laws to make this can all happen safely.

“If sulky racing is so popular then it needs to be regulated and events held in proper race tracks that are in line with proper health & safety regulations ensuring the safety of the horse and the rider, like all other events in sports of this kind.”

In reply, Fionnuala Daly, Senior Social Worker said: “Laois County Council and the Gardai can only seize a horse(s) in accordance with the Control of Horses Act, 1996 and the Laois County Council’s Bye Laws 2012 made under the Control of Horses Act, 1996.

“There is ongoing liaison between Laois County Council and An Garda Síochana as part of their implementation of the relevant legislation and byelaws.”

SEE ALSO – County Council agree €562,000 sale of Togher land for expansion of Laois business

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.