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City Council plans to limit Smithfield horse fair to twice a year

The traditional fair – which has seen violent scenes recently – is currently held every month, but could now be under threat.

The monthly horse fair would be limited to twice a year under Dublin City Council's proposals.
The monthly horse fair would be limited to twice a year under Dublin City Council's proposals.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has revealed plans to limit the famous Smithfield Horse Fair to twice a year, following violence that marred one holding of the event last year.

The council has published draft bye-laws which would see the fair – currently held on the first Sunday of every month – limited to two four-hour events a year, held in March and September.

The move to limit activities at the fair follow events at the March 2011 event in which two men were injured when shots were fired at the event, while a teenager was injured with a slash hook.

A separate incident a month later resulted in three arrests when attendees tried to steal a horse.

Enterprise minister Richard Bruton had made a detailed submission to the Attorney General seeking advice on whether it was legally permissible to shut the fair permanently, but it was reported that this would be an unconstitutional breach of traders’ commercial rights unless an alternative location was first provided.

The Dublin SPCA and then-lord mayor Gerry Breen had also called for the market to be cancelled, while the City Council also took moves to restrict it – including openly asking interested parties not to attend it in future.

The latest proposals would explicitly ban the presence of any horses not intended for sale, and requires all traders to submit applications for casual trading licences more than a week in advance of each fair.

The rules would require all horses to be removed from the trading area by 2pm, and insist that horses be controlled by a capable individual who must be at least 16 years of age. Those people would also be barred from being in charge of more than one horse at a time.

The proposals would also ban horses from trotting, cantering or galloping. “It is acceptable to ‘trot a horse up’ but this must be done with the horse led by the hand and not mounted,” the rules say.

Any breach of the draft laws – which now go up for public consultation for a two-month period – would come with a €1,900 fine.

Read: Two men injured as shots fired at Smithfield horse fair

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Gavan Reilly

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