I propose to take Questions Nos. 537 and 553 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 Síochána 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, following inspection by a Department Veterinary Inspector, it has been confirmed there are no current welfare issues with the horses concerned. Additionally, the situation is being monitored by the ISPCA who remain in contact with the local Department office.
My Department has also taken a proactive approach in tackling challenges that arise in the case of horses by developing facilities for both urban and traveller horse populations and in educating young people among these communities in the care and welfare of horses. Again, this work is done in close collaboration with the local authorities involved.
My Department will continue to work closely with Cork City Council with regard to the matter raised.