ANIMAL welfare inspectors reported a widespread use of suspected fake documents and amateur micro-chipping of horses at yesterday's controversial Smithfield Horse Fair.
Tightened regulations were introduced from last May following an outbreak of violence at last year's fair.
Yesterday's event passed relatively peacefully, although one elderly man was brought to hospital with a suspected hip injury after being trampled on in a stampede of spectators.
Horse owners are now checked at garda roadblocks by Revenue officials examining tax compliancy. Meanwhile, staff from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) ensure that animals are correctly licensed.
Without an identification chip matched to a 'passport', or paperwork on the animal, the owners are not allowed access.
However, yesterday's event has led to fears that the horses are being chipped by unknown parties and given fake documents.
"We understand that there is an ordinary Joe Bloggs who is chipping the horses and in some cases the horses are still bleeding from where they have been chipped," said Jimmy Cahill, head of the DSPCA.
"Our (other) concern would be that people are issuing what appear to be bogus passports."
Mr Cahill said that while he didn't know exactly how many there were, he said the number of suspect cases was "enough to stagger our inspectors".
About 300 horses entered the Smithfield area yesterday, and while the event remained trouble-free, there were a number of incidents of people running from bucking horses.
In one of these, an elderly man was taken to hospital by ambulance after falling over in the ensuing panic.
There were also fears that given the number of UK Traveller families expected to take part there might be trouble following the recent fatal shooting of Tallaght teenager Melanie McCarthy McNamara.
There remains concern about the suitability of Smithfield to hold the annual March show, the biggest of the fairs, given the area's modernisation.
Ongoing works include raised granite platforms, trees and street furniture, all of which help reduce the scale of open space.
"They have done so much work down in Smithfield it's no longer capable of having any market," said Mr Cahill.
"When Dublin City Council finalise their construction works you won't even be able to have a dog show."