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Legal limbo to end for Dublin's horse-drawn carriage drivers as new law to sort out licence debacle

Since 2018 Dublin City Council no longer issue carriage drivers licences, which drivers say could lead to unlicensed operators and concerns for animal welfare.

Horse-drawn carriage drivers have been left in legal limbo since 2018.
Horse-drawn carriage drivers have been left in legal limbo since 2018.
Image: TheJournal.ie

NEW LAWS TO regulate horse-drawn carriages in Dublin are to be drafted after it emerged earlier this year that many carriage drivers are in a ‘legal limbo’. 

Transport Minister Shane Ross received approval from Cabinet to draft a bill to sort out issues relating to licences. 

The carriages are a regular sight in and around the St Stephen’s Green area, as well as St James’ Gate. In May, carriage drivers led a convoy to Leinster House to ask that new bye-laws be made for drivers in the capital.

Since 2018, Dublin City Council no longer issues licences for carriage drivers which would allow them to operate commercially.

This is due to an old Victorian law that stated the responsibility lies with ‘a police force’ (Dublin Carriage Acts 1853, 1854 and 1855).

In 2011, Dublin City Council took over responsibility for the licensing of horse-drawn carriage operators and drivers from the Garda Carriage Office.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

However, in late 2018, Dublin City Council was advised that the legal basis for their bye-laws to regulate horse-drawn carriages was uncertain.

As a result, it was determined that the Dublin City Control of Horse Drawn Carriages bye-laws of 2011 were not valid.  

Having considered the matter, the Attorney General confirmed this year that Dublin City Council was not empowered to regulate horse-drawn carriages because the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853-55 had previously vested the power to regulate horse-drawn carriages in Dublin with the Dublin Metropolitan Police Commissioners, to whom An Garda Siochana is a successor.

The Attorney General advised that legislation in this area was “highly opaque” and advised that the power to regulate horse-drawn carriages should be overtly stated on the Statute books. 

Approval was given yesterday or a general scheme of a Bill that empowers all local authorities to regulate this area.

Concerns have also been highlighted in relation to teenagers and children taking the reins of tourist horse carriages in Dublin  

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