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Stay clear of Smithfield fair -- plea from council

DUBLIN City Council has insisted that it is powerless to stop the notorious Smithfield Horse Fair from going ahead this weekend.

Desperate calls have been made for the fair to be stopped following last month's violence, where gun shots were fired and three men were injured.

But a council spokesperson said: "We don't have any right to stop [the fair]. It's up to the Government to make new legislation.

"The council had made representations to the Government to introduce legislation, but the representations didn't achieve the desired outcome.

"We will be making new representations to extinguish the right of the market, but we can't stop it from going ahead."

Today, the council appealed to people and organisers to stay away from Smithfield this Sunday.

In a statement issued early this morning, the council explained that works on Smithfield Square are continuing as part of the Smithfield Quarter Enhancement Scheme.

"As a result of these works over 50pc of the space normally occupied by the Horse Fair will not be available on Sunday, 3 April, 2011.

"Dublin City Council appeals to the organisers of the Horse Fair and those who plan to attend the Horse Fair not to do so on this coming Sunday," the statement said, adding that the gardai supported their request.



Regulated

The DSPCA, local residents and councillors have again demanded that new legislation be brought in so that the fair can be properly regulated or moved outside the city.

Cllr Christy Burke told the Herald: "Local residents are asking for additional garda protection, and I was told yesterday that the guards will be there to protect the citizens."

Meanwhile, Orla Aungier, spokesperson for the DSPCA, said violence is not new to the fair, and the market itself is a public health issue.

"It's fundamentally unsafe and there's no accountability or traceability. The horses are in poor condition and there are diseased horses being brought in, and they're also being sold to young children."

But Bernard Fagan of the Smithfield Horse Owners Association (SHOA) defended the fair, saying that last month's violence was a departure from the norm.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't [go ahead]. There shouldn't be any problem."

hnews@herald.ie