Councillor slams cost of staging horses at Fair

GLENS Sinn Fein councillor Colum Thompson has slammed Moyle Council’s decision to facilitate horse trading at The Lammas Fair - a U-turn on a previous decision to ban horse trading.

The Sinn Fein councillor was speaking after a Moyle District Council meeting on Monday, August 13 saw members - by a majority vote - decide to go ahead with the traditional horse fair at Fairhill Street.

Cllr Thompson criticised this decision stating: “Now that responsibility for animal welfare lies with local councils rather than with central government the projected cost to Moyle’s ratepayers of accommodating horse trading is £15,000. This is a huge imposition on the ratepayers to facilitate a small number of horse traders, over two days. The benefits of the decision are negligible and I would question the rationale behind the change of heart from several councillor’s.

“In the space of one council meeting the ratepayers of the district have been left with a bill of approximately £25,000 with little or no benefit to Moyle. Thankfully both decisions were made with recorded votes, which at least means that members of the public can find out which parties and councillor’s have lumbered them with this huge bill.”

News of the change has brought mixed reaction. There is no doubting the scale of opposition to the decision with animal lovers from all over the world writing and emailing their comments to the council.

The campaign by anti horse traders included accusations of animal cruelty levelled by some but traders spoken to by the Times who have been at the Fair for years flatly deny any ill-treatment.

Those for the presence of horses were unrelenting in their campaign and lobbied constantly with a positive outcome which has delighted them.

At last week’s meeting of the Council, Sinn Fein Councillor, Cara McShane, proposed that the ban stay in place but she was defeated by a majority of councillors.

It was also revealed that the Lammas Fair Working Group recommended that the ban should stay in place, but that sales could be allowed in the Fair Green and in the Market Yard in a controlled envrionment.

It was felt that using existing facilities would help council to fulfil its welfare and health and safety obligations while also removing trading from the street.

It has also been revealed that an onlijne petition has been launched to stop trading and the Council is understood to have received almost 600 emails from people opposed to trading.

However, one dealer told the Times: “There’s always a vet present to ensure there’s no problems. I have been trading at the Fair for years and have not seen anything that would warrant investigation by the authorities.

“Moyle Council are doing their best to kill the atmosphere at the fair and people know it.”

It is understood that £15000 will have to be spent by the Council to bring the area up to standard for trading which includes clearing the council yard with a digger and bringing in overnight security.