Councillors cannot ban the practice of ‘Sulky’ horse racing on public roads, heard this month’s South Tipperary County Council.
A number of distressing incidents involving abandoned and injured horses in the South of the County have led Councillors to inquire about the possibility of banning or curtailing so-called Sulky horse racing, particularly by youngsters under age 18.
Cllrs heard that under the terms of the Control of Horses Act 1996, they would be acting outside their powers if they tried to pass a bye-law banning the practice, or requiring a licence to drive the Sulkies. Cruelty to horses should be reported to the Gardaí and is not a County Council responsibility, said Director of Services John Harney, after receiving legal advice on the matter.
Cllr Darren Ryan (Ind) said if it was possible to ban drinking alcohol in public, it must be possible to ban sulky horse racing. “There’s huge abuse and torture of horses. It’s horrific.” There was a case of a horse left in a field “for weeks on end” - left to “decompose.” “There’s a difference between culture and abuse,” he said. Cllr Siobhán Ambrose (FF) said she heard from a woman who had seen a horse being “beaten to death.” Cllr Richie Molloy (Ind) said he hoped this would put pressure on the Minister to take action. “Something must be done. Either young people will be killed or there will be a major incident. The public feels it is the Council’s responsibility.” It was “common sense that there should be some law banning under-17s from driving Sulkies, he added.
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.