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Dublin SPCA calls for ban on unauthorised horse fairs

Smithfield market, in 2008.

Smithfield market, in 2008. © Andrea & Stefan

More than 100 horses were taken to an unauthorised horse fair in Dublin on Saturday, with hundreds of dealers in attendance.

The horse fair was held at Newlands Cross, Clondalkin. As there are no facilities in the urban area for keeping or housing horses, welfare concerns have been raised by the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA).

Officials visited the fair on Saturday morning, with the support and assistance of the Gardai.

A spokesman said the DSPCA had worked hard over many years to control such horse fairs, and hopes that Saturday’s fair “will not be a signal of a return to the kind of horrific animal cruelty witnessed in the Smithfield markets in the past”.

The DSPCA are calling on South Dublin County Council to ban any such fairs from taking place in the future.

“The DSPCA maintains that there are no facilities in urban areas for either the keeping or housing of horses or for the holding of horse fairs.

The Clondalkin fair took place the day before the authorised Smithfield Horse Fair in Dublin City Centre, which was reduced to twice a year from weekly because of welfare concerns.

The fair has been running in the area for centuries, but the local council has long been worried about safety issues and the unsuitability of the Smithfield Plaza venue. Public order offences have also sparked concern.

The fair has been able to operate despite council opposition because of an ancient right to use the area for horse trading.

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