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Land and Horses

The burning to death of a horse in Tallaght is a horrific form of animal cruelty and also a clear proof of what the cutting of local public services and removal of social facilities could lead to.

The burning of the horse has been widely reported in the media and this act of extreme animal cruelty has alarmed the horrified animal rights activists.

Responding to the incident, Gillian Bird of DSPCA said that "the twisted perpetrators need to be caught".

Some of the angry reports in the media described the perpetrators of this killing of a horse as 'scumbags', 'deranged thugs' etc. Reading the details of the incident, one can hardly disagree with this anger but one also has to remember a few things on the issue of horses.

Elsewhere in Dublin, Clondalkin People Before Profit Alliance councillor Gino Kenny was right from the very beginning when he fought against the cuts and campaigned for funding for pro-social projects. One of his campaigns is about defending the right of people in his area to keep their horses on properly managed and serviced land.

Cllr. Kenny explains his campaign as follows:

"I have campaigned for land for horse owners in the locality, so horse owners can keep their horses and stable their horses in the Clondalkin area. I think this is a vital facility that is needed in the Clondalkin area. Many young people in the Clondalkin area love horses with a passion, but why haven't they a place to stable horses in their locality rather than haven't to stable their horses elsewhere? I feel very strongly about this, because with so much free land in the Clondalkin area especially around the Grand Canal, this could and would be a great Pro Social Project for all ages."

In the recent past horses in Clondalkin area have been impounded by South Dublin County Council and local people had staged a protest to get their horses back. The full details of the campaign can be found on Cllr. Kenny's website.

There is a sickening cycle and a never ending tragedy in all of this. In one area, the horse owners who love and care about their animals are deprived of land and services. Their horses are taken away from them and destroyed. In another case abandoned horses are killed. All of this, I would argue, is directly linked to the ongoing cuts in local public services. Not just in the case of the horses but also in all sorts of very important and socially necessary local services.

Young people these days have less libraries, local community halls and well maintained social activity centers. There are now much lesser social workers who are vital to deal with issues affecting young and marginalized people.

Anger towards the young people who burnt the horse is not enough to solve the real problem. Putting them into jail will not eliminate any future similar incidents. These kids need support and help from social/community workers in dealing with their issues; not a police response.

We may call them 'thugs' or 'scumbags' as much as we like, but this won't do anything for their future or the future of the local society.

A few simple questions may be required to conclude with.

Why were those horses abandoned?

If there were proper facilities, would these horses be abandoned?

Should the local councils not be responsible for providing land and stables for people and their horses so that animals can be looked after by their owners in a proper environment?

In August 2013, Kitty Holland of The Irish Times reported that "Hundreds of residents in the mainly working-class area own horses, but many have only unsuitable spaces in which to keep the animals, such as a back garden. Younger horse-lovers in particular will keep horses “wherever there’s a bit of grass”, says the [Clondalkin Equine] club's co-founder Tom Aspil.

"They’re putting horses on public land, the council is pounding them. The young people can’t afford to get them back so the council destroys them. It’s devastating for the young people and very expensive for the council. But the policy of pounding horses isn’t working and it’s a vicious circle.”"

If you say, "among all of the problems the country is facing, we can't spend money for just a few people and their horses", then you better be prepared for more abandoned horses starving to death or being exposed to animal cruelty.

What are local councils for, if they don't provide services for the local community?

It is now time in this country to put a young lad and his horse before profit.

It is time to reverse the cuts to social/educational services that many 'thugs', 'scumbags' and 'abandoned' kids badly need.

It is time to put people before profit and a horse and it's young owner before the bond holders.

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