Tipperary Traveller group condemns horse cruelty

Photo © Tipperary Rural Travellers Project

The Tipperary Travellers Horse Owners Association has issued a statement in response to recent incidents of animal cruelty in the county.

“Tipperary Travellers Horse Owners Association are making it clear that, as an organisation working to promote positive horse ownership, we condemn any instances of animal cruelty or activity that is damaging to the welfare of horses. We particularly condemn activity surrounding and leading up to the recent incident in Clonmel, where animals were left without food and eventually left to die.

As an organisation that promotes animal welfare amongst all out members, we find any cruelty to animals as being unacceptable and those responsible should be held to account. We have a strict membership policy where we monitor and insist that any of our own members respect animal welfare, road safety and compliance with the law. Any member that is found to be in breach of these rules is disqualified from membership of our association. We work to promote positive horse ownership across the whole community. We have no power to enforce this beyond our own members, but we fully support and co-operate with the relevant authorities in their enforcement roles. In relation to the specific incident in Clonmel, we would like to point out the following:

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1. We were unaware of the situation that was developing in the land in question. We were notified of the situation by Tipperary County Council early in December 2017. Our own members at this stage made efforts to establish ownership of the horses left in that particular site. While we were able to establish ownership of some animals fairly quickly (and ensure attention and removal), we were not able to establish ownership of remaining horses – nor to find out who had been involved in obviously using this as a dumping ground over a period of time.

2. We made our position clear at this stage, stressing the importance to the authorities of removing immediately those animals at risk.

3. We were able to establish ownership of horses kept on one part of this site (on one side of an access road running though it). We were also able to establish (and agree with the I.S.P.C.A) that these animals were well looked after and fully compliant.

4. As an Association, we have no authority to intervene in these situations but we fully support and cooperate with the relevant authorities.

The Horse Owners Association has an elected committee that has been working in partnership with relevant authorities through a forum established in Tipperary (involving representatives of the local authority, the Garda Siochana and our own association). This co-operation to date has had very positive results – including an early warning system through which our members are actively involved in contacting horse owners in situations where animals are creating a danger on roads and elsewhere. The co-operation was also a vital part in the very successful event organised during the Summer in Cahir to highlight the high incidences of suicide in the Traveller community and the positive influence of horse ownership.

We fully support calls being now made for identifying owners of the animals in question in the Clonmel situation, and for prosecution of these individuals in compliance with the law (whether they are members of the settled or Traveller community). We also call for efforts to be made to establish precise ownership and/or leasing arrangements associated with this land, and for the law to be applied if individuals are found to be negligible in this respect.
We again stress our total opposition and abhorrence at any instances of cruelty – to horses or any other animals.

We feel strongly that the response to this situation needs to have two dimensions:

1. Full enforcement of the law and continuation of efforts to ensure compliance with regulations and responsibilities.

2. BUT ALSO continuation of efforts to promote positive horse ownership though co-operation and partnership. We want to continue the efforts we are making in partnership with the relevant authorities in this respect. We are also requesting that representatives of the I.S.P.C.A. become involved in this joint forum and that continued efforts are made to promote respect on all sides – for members of the settled community, for members of the Traveller community and for animals.”