PROPOSED new casual trading by-laws could spell the death knell for horse trading in West Cork with traders opting to do business elsewhere, according to councillors at a meeting of the Western Committee in Clonakilty this week.
In an unusual move, where councillors did not have prior notice, a deputation from a group representing West Cork horse traders spoke to councillors in camera about their concerns about the possible impact the proposed casual trading by-laws could have on their business.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said the proposed casual trading by-laws are a ‘bit heavy-handed.’ He added: ‘You can’t expect a horse to stand in one place at a fair and these by-laws will be unworkable in that regards.
‘Rosscarbery Fair and Ballabuidhe are two important horse fairs in West Cork and we have to preserve our heritage here in West Cork,’ said Cllr Carroll. ‘These horse traders can’t be coming to fairs with tax clearance certs and having to stand in one place.’ Cllrs noted that horses have to be ridden and walked so the buyer can see them move.
The issue of horse traders applying for licences 30 days before a fair was also described as ‘impractical’ and horse traders might just go elsewhere to buy and sell horses, the meeting heard.
‘We have a role as the Council to enhance tradition and horse trading is a fabric of what West Cork is,’ said another councillor.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) welcomed the delegation and pointed out that horse fairs are a dying tradition as it is and that they have to be supported. ‘If we don’t support it, West Cork will lose its identity,’ said Cllr Collins.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he had no problem with the views of the deputation but that it was unusual for them to come in when the public consultation is already over since December.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) welcomed the deputation as he had also been contacted by them over concerns on the proposed by-laws.
‘I would have concerns about the structure of these laws and these horse traders have genuine concerns about this and we need some bit of flexibility,’ said Cllr Hurley.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) also agreed that practical issues have to be taken into consideration when it comes to applying the by-laws to horse traders.
Council official Mac Dara Ó h-Icí told councillors that the deputation of horse traders have already put in a submission on the proposed casual trading by-laws, which will go to full Council before any implementation.