Sunday 17 December 2017

Calls for closure of market where discount horses, ponies and donkeys have been traded since 1665

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The Smithfield Horse Fair has been a Dublin tradition since 1665, when horse traders from across the country converged at the former marketplace to sell horses and other livestock.

It remains the only horse fair set in an urban environment in Europe.

The fair is traditionally held on the first Sunday of every month by an ad hoc group of traders.

Horse traders -- including members of the Travelling community as well as rural farmers and youths from working class urban areas -- traditionally congregate at the fair, which deals in discount horses, ponies and donkeys.

But concerns by local residents and organisations -- including gardai, Dublin City Council and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) -- have resulted in calls for its closure due to health and safety concerns and animal welfare issues.

They have been lobbying for several years to close the fair down.

However, critics of the fair are stymied under the Casual Trading Act 1995 which allows the market to operate within the bounds of the law.

Following the shooting incident there yesterday, the DCC and DSPCA are now urging the new Government to act immediately to amend the act so the fair can be closed on health and safety grounds.

Irish Independent

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