Legal efforts fail to halt Smithfield fair
Published 06/06/2011 | 05:00
THE Smithfield Horse Fair passed off peacefully yesterday after efforts to obtain a court injunction preventing the controversial market from taking place failed.
The Irish Independent has learned that legal avenues had been unsuccessfully explored to prevent its taking place altogether -- with the office of the Attorney General refusing a request to seek a High Court injunction.
It is understood that the Lord Mayor of Dublin Gerry Breen wrote to both the Attorney General and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Richard Bruton, seeking a legal remedy to what is increasingly being seen as a threat to public safety and animal welfare.
A heated debate on the fair's future was sparked in March when violence broke out in Smithfield -- gunshots were fired and one man was injured with a slash hook.
There have also been considerable concerns for the health and welfare of many of the animals on display.
Refusing to seek a High Court injunction on the grounds of constitutional difficulties, the Office of the Attorney General explained that procedures already exist in law to extinguish 'market rights' for such events.
Those who hold such rights must receive a period of notice and, crucially, the provision of alternative venues.
Mr Bruton declined the Lord Mayor's request for new legislation, stating that sufficient powers to deal with the fair were already in place under the Casual Trading Act 1995.
The fair passed off peacefully yesterday -- thanks in part to a crackdown on undocumented animals.
A number of garda check-points were set up around the city to check whether animals destined for Smithfield had documentation and passports.
The checks seemed to have discouraged many traders from attempting to bring animals into the city while those without sufficient paperwork were prevented from reaching the market site.
By 10.30am, there were just three horses and a handful of spectators at the square.