The practice of sulkies, which have been described as cruel and dangerous, is to be banned from Ballyloughane Beach after councillors at Monday’s Galway City Council meeting agreed to amend the Draft Non-motorised Passenger Transporter Bye-laws 2013.
A report from director of services Ciarán Hayes revealed that “intermittent complaints are received regarding the practice of bringing horses” to beaches, in particular Ballyloughane Beach in Renmore, and that these complaints include “the risk associated with horses coming into conflict with children and vehicles, washing of horses in the sea, and conflicts arising from the use of sulkies.”
The matter had been considered by the Recreation and Amenity SPC at its meeting on April 2 last and it was concluded that there was no requirement for a specific bye-law to control horses on public beaches. However it was acknowledged that “the practice of racing sulkies is not appropriate and in this regard, a provision is included in the Draft Non-motorised Passenger Transporter Bye-Laws 2013 to prohibit such activity”. Article 22 of the draft bye-laws states: “A sulky shall not be operated on public beaches.” The revision of the bye-laws arose from the review of the operation of rickshaws in city which is currently progressing through the public consultation stage and will come before the council in the coming months.
A number of options were given, including prohibiting the use of Ballyloughane beach for all horses either completely or for specific periods. However Mr Hayes advised that the banning of sulkies on beaches was the best option.
Mayor Terry O’Flaherty highlighted that there was a particular problem with sulkies at Ballyloughane Beach and that she had asked for the area to be blocked off. “I’ve seen cruelty being done to these horses, they are chased down a long road, beaten to run into the water. It’s not fair to the horses. I have also witnessed dung piled all along the road. I’ve only seen two people out with a bucket and spade to pick it up. I’m not saying to ban horses completely but we have to come up with a solution. It’s a danger waiting to happen.”
“I’m in full agreement about the sulkies,” said Cllr Ollie Crowe, before adding: “I have concern for the children on the beach. I would like to propose to amend the bye-laws as advised.” He further said: “There are many horse owners in the city who are upstanding people of the community. They have the welfare of horses in their minds the whole time. Let’s enter into dialogue in relation to people who use the beach and come up with a solution.”
Cllr Billy Cameron also advised against penalising people who genuinely care and have a love for horses. “To penalise them would be a fallacy in my eyes and an injustice. For the moment the proposal to amend the bye-laws in relation to sulkies is appropriate. It’s a disgrace the way they operate, endangering people and horses,” he said. A motion put forward by Cllr Cameron to restrict the use of sulkies was agreed. It was also agreed to erect signs at Ballyloughane Beach in relation to dog fouling.