Smithfield Horse Fair- preserving tradition must also include proper animal welfare.

Walking down through Smithfield last night on my way to see True Grit at the Lighthouse Cinema I was unaware of the earlier shooting at the Smithfield Horse Fair. At present a large area of the squares cobbled area is being redeveloped and is very unsightly with security fencing and building materials everywhere. Last night Smithfield could have been a scene from a market in undeveloped African country. As I attempted to park on the Liffey side of square, the cobbles were littered with broken glass. Once out of the car the smell of horseshit was obnoxious and it was everywhere. As we made our way towards the Lighthouse cinema along the new granite paving in front of the new glazed but empty commercial units the scene was no different. No attempt had been made to clean up this unsightly mess, if this was another other organisation I’m sure the Council would have laid down very strict conditions on who an event like this should be conducted.

A few years ago Smithfield the future of the area was looking up new contemporary architecture including many apartments and commercial shops were built on derelict sites, adjacent to the Jameson distillery museum.  A new hotel was opened; an observation tower was put in place at the top of the Jameson chimney and lots of gift shops opened in the vicinity. Today all that remains open is the Jameson Museum. The entire area is in danger of slipping into urban decline once again.

Smithfield is no longer a suitable location to hold a horse fair given its now a residential area. I’m all for the preservation of cultures and traditions of the area. One must also respect the welfare of these animals how they are cared for on Smithfield Square. In recent years, perception of animal abuse and neglect, and occasional violence amongst a minority of animal traders has become a serious concern for both Garda and Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA). Yesterday those concerns were borne out with the shooting of 2 men and a melee among many others.

The City Council says it does not have the power to prevent the horse fair at Smithfield, unless it can relocate it to a suitable area. In these tough economic times the council says it does not have the money to fund such a move and has called on central government remove the rights for the horse fair.

Could the Horse Fair not be moved to Collins Barrack’s where many contained area exists and such a fair could be operated in a safer and more humane environment for the horses, while still maintaining the tradition.

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