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Irish Horse Welfare Trust urges government to regulate and find new venue for Smithfield Horse Fair – Press Release

After violent events in Smithfield on Sunday, welfare officers from Ireland’s horse charity Irish Horse Welfare Trust IHWT, are calling for the new government to introduce a basic code of practice for horse traders and introduce regulation, as well as finding a new more suitable venue for the Smithfield Horse Fair.

IHWT welfare officers who were in Smithfield that day have described the situation as mayhem, according to co-founder and director of the charity, Sharon Newsome.

“The issue of Smithfield is mainly about public safety, suitability of venue, and the introduction of basic code of practice for welfare of animals, to those who wish to trade,” she said. “Regulations applied to any fair or mart should not be up to the discretion of the traders; this is something that needs to be addressed and enforced by relevant government agencies.”

IHWT understands there are legal issues surrounding the Smithfield Horse Fair due to established trading rights; and highlights the threat of closure can prompt anger and resentment amongst the horse fair traders.

“While the market is a tradition, as many marts all over Ireland, the suitability of the venue where tourists, children and people can mix so close to animals, in many cases stressed or unhandled, is highly inappropriate,” she adds.

“Currently in Smithfield, there are no proper facilities for the horses, many in some cases which have travelled from England and have been rounded up off mountains, and are unwell. Other equines are malnourished and sold illegally to underage children and may fall into further neglect .The genuine good horse people at the market are overshadowed by those who behave by bringing animals in this condition to the market place.”

It is the view of the IHWT welfare offices that any fair or mart should follow an appropriate code of conduct and regulation both from an animal welfare perspective but also from a health and safety for those who are working, handling, participating or watching fair activities.

“Following the scenes of violence witnessed by IHWT officers on Sunday, it is now time for a decisive and appropriate decision on Smithfield to be taken by the government to offer protection for the Welfare equines and for the safety of spectators,” added Newsome.

“However, this needs to be addressed with the participation of responsible horse owners that have been involved in the Smithfield Horse Fair for many years.”

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