Parliamentary Questions and Answers

Question 539 - Answered on 17th June, 2014

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD (Dublin Central, Independent)

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the latest incident which occurred in Tipperary town involving a pony being abandoned after it was driven into a heavy wooden fence while participating in a Sulky race; if his attention has been drawn to the excessive speeds at which these ponies are driven often by children as young as 10 years on Ireland's busy roads, and that the horses being too young end up enduring serious damage to their underdeveloped joints and ligaments during a race; if he is aware of the risks these races are placing on those animals, children and other road users; if he will prioritise this animal welfare and public health issue ensuring that local authorities carry out their obligations under the Control of Horses Act (1996); and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney

I understand that the matter to which the Deputy refers is being investigated by An Garda Siochana and the investigation is ongoing.

Like all activities on the public road, sulky racing is governed by the Road Traffic Acts and imposes an obligation pursuant to these acts on the person engaged in this activity to drive their vehicles with due care for other road users and not to indulge in dangerous driving of the vehicles. Under the Control of Horses Act 1996, Local Authorities have powers to create exclusion areas in bye-laws prohibiting persons from having a horse in an area except for bona fide reasons and this could extend to horses used in sulky racing. The newly commenced Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provide options where horse welfare problems, or potential horse welfare problems, are observed.

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