South Tipp County Council updated its Control of Horses by-laws this month but two councillors are unhappy they don’t include a ban on horse drawn sulky traps on South Tipperary’s public roads.
Clonmel Cllr Darren Ryan and Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan appealed for a ban on sulkies on public roads to be incorporated into the by-laws when they came before South Tipperary Council Council’s October meeting for approval.
The new addition to the bylaws under this latest revision is the requirement that all horses in South Tipperary must have a licence.
The by-laws cover the proper care and accommodation of horses and prohibit the driving or riding of a horse in a public place in a manner posing a nuisance or danger to other people or property. They also ban the racing of horses or horses harnessed to a trap, carraige, cart or other vehicle in a public place.
The only submission the Council received during the public consultation phase of the by-laws revision was from the Tipperary Traveller Horse Owners Association (TTHOA).
That committee’s Chairman FF Cllr Joe Donovan proposed the by-laws’ adoption at the Council meeting and FG Cllr Joe Brennan seconded the proposal.
But Cllrs Ryan and Cooney-Sheehan said they couldn’t accept the by-laws without the inclusion of the ban on sulkies and pressed for them to be amended as soon as possible.
Cllr Ryan highlighted how a Clonmel traffic warden in Clonmel witnessed an exhausted horse collapse bleeding on a street in the town recently after being “beat up the road” by the sulky driver. Children as young as six and seven years were driving these sulkies through towns and on main roads, he complained.
Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan warned there will be a fatality on the county’s roads if sulkies aren’t banned. These were racing vehicles and shouldn’t be allowed on public roads.
Co. Council Acting Director of Water & Environment Services Jim Harney said the Council couldn’t ban sulkies on public roads in the same way as it was not possible to ban cyclists. He pointed out that road safety issues were a matter for the Gardai to investigate and prosecute.
He said the Council’s veterinary officer responded to any horse cruelty complaints they received and after verifying the complaint they contacted the Gardai to take a prosecution against the horse owner.
Mr Harney said the Council hadn’t any extra resources to enforce the bylaws and suffered funding cuts in this area. However, it was going to try out the TTHOA’s “early warning system” proposal. The Council would phone the Association when it received a complaint about horses in public places. The TTHOA would confirm within half a hour whether it was a Traveller owned horse, and if it was, arrangements would be make to remove the horses avoiding the necessity to seize the animals.
The Council decided to press ahead with adopting the revised bylaws and refer the issues raised by Cllrs Ryan and Cooney-Sheehan back to the Environment & Water Services SPC for consideration.