I thank Deputy O'Sullivan. As she may be aware, some local authorities develop by-laws to license horse-drawn carriages operating commercially. Through by-laws, these local authorities set their own rules and stipulations to govern such operations. It is under Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 that local authorities are provided with the power to make by-laws.
In most counties there seems to have been little demand and by-laws are not in place, while in other areas the matter is more relevant. For example, in Kerry, where there is a long tradition of jarvey operation, by-laws have been adopted to regulate the operation of these horse-drawn hackney carriages. Dublin City Council also made by-laws in 2011 for the same purpose and under the same legislative provisions. My Department has very recently had sight of a note prepared by the Dublin City Council law agent which gives the view that the city council has no legal basis on which to make such by-laws and indicates that such powers may rest instead, under the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853 to 1855, inclusive, with the Commissioners of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, to which the Garda is the successor.
While I am currently of the view that these matters should normally be managed at local government level, I will now ensure that this matter is given due consideration by my Department. I will task the Department with engaging with relevant stakeholders, including An Garda Síochána and Dublin City Council, and to seek separate legal advice if this is deemed necessary. Depending on the outcome, there may be a requirement to amend or repeal legislation to ensure an appropriate, modern regulatory framework is in place.
I believe the Deputy's concerns may relate in particular to animal welfare issues. As she may know, the Animal Welfare Act 2013 provides powers to gardaí and authorised officers to deal with issues of animal welfare. The animal welfare legislation comes within the ambit of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
As the Deputy knows, during consideration of the Road Traffic Bill 2016, Dáil Éireann accepted an amendment proposed by Deputy Munster to provide for the regulation of certain passenger transporters, including rickshaws and horse-drawn carriages. The amendment was passed and became section 31 of the Road Traffic Act 2016.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I subsequently took legal advice on the implications of Deputy Munster's amendment prior to commencing those provisions. Following receipt of this advice, I decided not to commence section 31. The legal risk associated with the provision was deemed unacceptably high, with a strong likelihood that any regulations made under the provisions could be challenged and ultimately struck down.