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Smithfield rubble won't stop horse fair going ahead

THE CONTROVERSIAL Smithfield Horse Fair will be confined to a small space next to a construction site this weekend -- and the city council is warning people to stay away.

The Smithfield Horse Fair will take place tomorrow morning even though Dublin City Council is undertaking an extensive revamp of the square, with tonnes of rubble being left on site.

Gardai are mounting a security operation to police the event. A month ago shots were fired and a man injured in a machete attack.

Local businesses have now expressed health and safety fears since more than 50pc of the space normally occupied by the horse fair will be cordoned off due to the square's revamp.

Dublin City Council (DCC) is appealing to the organisers of the horse fair to call it off, and for people to stay away.

One member of Smithfield Area Business Association said the fair causes disruption and damage to businesses, and it must be moved away from the area.

"It causes problems like the immediate cost of any damage afterwards. Almost without exception there will be some damage like a window being broken or cracked or a gate being knocked down.

"It doesn't do any good to have the horse fair adding to the perception of the place if people wanted to spend time there or go for lunch there. Smithfield has a perception of a place of some derelict areas.

"Ultimately I hope legislation will be passed, extinguishing the horse fair from Smithfield. And in the meantime, there's still the question of the Control of Horses Act, which isn't enforced whatsoever."

Meanwhile, DCC says it is liaising with the gardai and the building contractor to ensure that the construction site on Smithfield plaza will be secured and locked this weekend.

"The contractor has been instructed to secure and lock the site and has confirmed he will do so. An Garda Siochana will assess that this requirement has been complied with in advance of the fair.

"The works to Smithfield Plaza are scheduled to continue for several more months and will result in disruption to the holding of the horse fair for this period."

A spokesperson for the horse fair was not available for comment yesterday.