IRELAND: NEW LAW PROPOSED TO ROUND UP HORSES THAT ROAM FREELY





English/Nat

Horses and ponies allowed to roam freely around urban housing projects in Ireland could be rounded up and culled under a proposed new law.

Most are the pets of local children, but government ministers and animal rights activists say the horses are being mistreated and are a danger to their young owners.

The Ballymun estate in Dublin.

The decaying tower blocks and tattered landscape is the last place one would expect to find horses roaming free.

But in Dublin things are a little different.

Keeping horses is a growing craze among children living in some of the toughest neighbourhoods of the city.

But the Agricultural Department says the animals have become a threat to children’s safety and it wants to clamp down on urban horse owners.

The proposed legislation, which has all-party support, will allow local authorities to seize any horse that it considers out of control.

There are around 3-thousand horses on housing projects all over Ireland and a third of these are in Dublin.

On the Ballymun Estate children keep their horses in makeshift stables on the edge of the estate.

The horses are left to roam green spaces and waste ground around the estate.

The young riders say horses keep them out of trouble.

SOUNDBITE:
(Question: Why do you think the children here all want horses?)
Because they all like them They’re good pets.
(Question: And it’s fun?)
Yeah. During the summer. Keeps you away from the drugs.
SUPER CAPTION: David Thomas, Horse Owner

SOUNDBITE:
Most people around here haven’t got horses. And you can flash it off to them when you want to and gallop them. They know that you’re taking care of them. You can wash them down in front of all the people down the stables. And you can go on telly and all, go to meetings and all about the horse. It’s good.
SUPER CAPTION: Lee Smith, Horse Owner

But animal welfare campaigners claim many horses are neglected on the estates.

SOUNDBITE:
Well, our objection to the horses in Dublin is the fact that the sufferings they endure, you know, to be children’s playthings, or as they seem to be treated as playthings to a large extent. Up to today, 80 horses have died since the beginning of the year, most of them put down by our own society or by veterinary surgeons on behalf of the society. And though everyone in Dublin claims to love horses there was no sign of these 80 owners when their horses where at the point of death or had starved dreadfully or had suffered terrible injury
SUPER CAPTION: Therese Cunningham, Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Director

Community leaders argue horses give children a healthy interest.

SOUNDBITE:
There’s a sense of ownership and power, respectability attached to all of this. And this is something, I think, as I was saying at the beginning, that we all need in our lives. Kids find it by having horses. Adults find it by getting into positions. But kids find it, get it by having horses and I think that’s really important.
SUPER CAPTION: Kathleen Maher, Ballymun Horse Owners’ Association

The children of Ballymun have vowed to fight the bill every step of the way.

But they will have to wait until the autumn when the bill reaches a further reading to know whether their trusty steads will remain a part of the Dublin landscape.

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IRELAND: NEW LAW PROPOSED TO ROUND UP HORSES THAT ROAM FREELY

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