I propose to take Questions Nos. 1360 and 1371 to 1373, inclusive, together.
The Control of Horses Act 1996 provides powers to Local Authorities to deal with stray and abandoned horses and for the designation by each Local Authority of control areas in which horses cannot be kept without a licence. Members of An Garda Siochána have also been assigned powers commensurate with those of Authorised Officers under the Act.
Land owners have responsibility to ensure appropriate fencing, boundaries, notices and signage are in place to control movement of stray equines.
In the area of welfare, officials of my Department may intervene under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. In addition, local authorities are empowered to appoint officers of the Authority as authorised officers to enforce the Animal Health and Welfare Act within the Authority’s functional area.
My Department officials are aware of the situation in Holyhill to which the Deputy refers and a Department Veterinary Inspector has undertaken regular inspections to monitor any welfare issues with the horses concerned. Veterinary Officials have also been liaising with other agencies including the Gardai in an effort to resolve the matter. Additionally, the situation has been monitored by the ISPCA who have remained in contact with the local Department office.
A number of horses and a donkey were seized recently from the Holyhill location in question under the Control of Horses Act 1996.
My Department has also taken a proactive approach in tackling challenges that arise in the case of horse ownership in urban areas by developing suitable facilities and in educating the young people involved in the care and welfare of horses. This work is done in close collaboration with the local authorities involved.