Independent councillor James Charity has called for the implementation of a ‘horse exclusion zone’ in part of the Carrowbrowne area to protect the welfare of animals abandoned in flood waters over the weekend.
The call comes after three consecutive days of efforts to save and feed stranded horses in the area, following the Clare River breaching its banks and efforts involving fire services, council wardens, local volunteers, and Cllr Charity himself.
Cllr Charity said; “Enough is enough. We’ve had incidents over a protracted period of time in this area involving sulky racing, cars striking loose horses and now poor animals being abandoned in flood waters without shelter or feed. The reality is these horses belong to members of the Travelling community and while I have tried to engage with a number of agencies on the issue, the simple truth is that the Galway Traveller Movement could not even be bothered to attended a pre-scheduled meeting on the ongoing issues recurring in this area with the Galway County Council last week.
“I’ve tried to be as collaborative as possible on these issues but it appears to me that the same people who are quick to preach about respect show very little in return to the local community around them.
“Despite getting considerable funding recently for refurbishment of one halting site in the area from the Galway City Council, to much bewilderment from some in the local community after seeing the state its surrounds have been left in with littering and discarded rubbish, it is evident that no respect is being shown to the local community whose lives have been put in danger by the placement of animals on unfenced lands, and now the additional risk posed to volunteers and members of the emergency services who have put themselves at risk by trying to save animals placed on flooded lands. This is without mentioning sulkies on the road on a regular basis.
“Of course, the welfare of the animals themselves appears to be of little concern, with a large group approaching volunteers who rescued one animal on Saturday morning to confront and hurl abuse at them, while a further confrontation took place today with three vans arriving to confront rescuers after they had saved animals from increasing flood levels.
“Reliance on a ‘cultural right’ to own and keep horses cannot be used any longer as a card to trump animal welfare in this area or indeed anywhere throughout the State. Simply put, the people involved in this sort of ongoing cruelty should never be allowed to keep any animal. I am asking the Galway County Council to examine the legality of implementing a complete ‘horse exclusion zone’ in part of the Carrowbrowne area, while also implementing a requirement to prove ownership or long leasehold interest in a minimum acreage of land per animal in areas of County Galway.
“At a national level, the incoming Government need to look at legislation to put strict laws in this area on the statute books and to provide for the outright ban of sulkies. I want to thank members of the fire service, our council wardens and volunteers who have worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to address these issues.”