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Dublin: -1°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Minister calls for ban on sulky racing on public roads

Communications Minister Denis Naughten also wants a ban on animals being used in circuses.

Image: Shutterstock/sonya etchison

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER Denis Naughten has said he wants to see an outright ban on sulky racing on public roads.

The minister told the Cabinet yesterday that he is deeply concerned about the issue, not only on the grounds of animal welfare, but also when it comes to road safety.

Sulky racing involves a driver on a two-wheeled cart being pulled by a horse attached to a harness. Videos have been uploaded online of these races taking place on public roads.

Naughten secured support on the issue from his colleagues yesterday, with the minister suggesting it could be outlawed through the introduction of bye-laws.

Ban on public roads

The ban would only relate to races on public roads, and would still allow for races to take place on private property where there are special tracks for the races, in some cases.

“Currently there is no ban. There was one in my constituency only recently, and it is just so unsafe. It’s dangerous and it is putting others on the road at risk,” he told TheJournal.ie.

It is understood Agriculture Minister Michael Creed will address the issue, with the two ministers due to meet this week to discuss if it can be tackled through amendments to the Animal Welfare Bill, which is due to be voted upon by TDs this week.

Naughten also told this Cabinet colleagues that he wants to see a ban on animals being used in circuses.

Circus animals

The government have continued to rule any such ban in the past, with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, stating that his department continues to engage with stakeholders, including circus groups, animal welfare organisations, in relation to the welfare of wild animals in circuses.

“According to the information available to my department, there are in fact very few wild animals currently performing in Irish circuses,” he added.

shutterstock_590015414 Source: Shutterstock/aleksandr4300

However, sources state there is work within the department on the issue, with one minister stating that there is widespread support for a ban, due to Ireland falling behind other EU countries, with Scotland and Estonia introducing only recently introducing a ban.

The Independents 4 Change Private Members Motion on animal welfare calls for the introduction of a comprehensive system of monitoring conditions in which animals are kept and robust regulations to protect animals from abuse, cruel treatment, neglect and poor living conditions.

TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly are also seeking those accused of animal cruelty be held accountable for their actions. Following her contribution to the Dáil last night on the issue, there was applause from the public gallery which was packed with animal rights activists and groups.

The government is not opposing the motion, but is submitting a counter motion on the issue.

Last night, Creed emphasised the government’s commitment to animal welfare and reiterated that it does not tolerate any instance of animal cruelty.

He said that his junior minister Andrew Doyle showed him his screen saver during the debate and it was of his family dog. He in turn said his screensaver on his phone is also his family dog.

“I think there is more on this issue that unites us that divides us,” he said.

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