Victory for traders as council vote yes to horse fair

A group of traders from Banbridge say they are delighted at the news that the traditional horse fair will continue at its usual venue during the Oul Lammas Fair in Ballycastle.

Last week, Moyle District Council overturned an original ban on the issue and the stage is now set for dealers from all over Ireland to bring their animals to Ballycastle later this month to trade in designated areas of Fairhill Street.

There had been a vigorous campaign by anti horse traders with 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 of animals.

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

The Banbridge dealers represent a sizeable number of those engaged in trading at the Fair and felt that the original ban would have removed much of the tradition the Fair holds for many.

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.