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Horse Play Pavee Point call for government to fund horses for traveller housing

Martin Collins has said that investment in horses is already there for the elite should be extended to the travelling community


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Martin Collins has called on the government to fund horses for the purpose of traveller housing.

It comes as director of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O'Flaherty, said that local authorities should accommodate Travellers with somewhere to stable a horse asking them to acknowledge the “centrality of horses” to Traveller culture.

Martin claims that the policy of the State has been to stop horse ownership among their community.

"I think it's important that we begin to facilitate Traveller horse ownership. Unfortunately, the strategy over many, many years has been to legislate horse ownership into oblivion. That has been the policy of this State," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

There are some small examples of good practice taking place he said, with councils in Offaly, Kilkenny, Kerry and Cork engaging with the community to set up equine projects where horse ownership can be supported.

"It's really a question of depending on the local context, and for those discussions to take place between the local authority and the local Traveller community and there are solutions, and that has proven to be the case - but unfortunately, these examples of good practice are few and far between,” he said.

Martin, who lives in Finglas said there is a horse project there, however it is not traveller specific.

When asked about keeping horses in stables in an urban environment, he said there could be issues.

"I would accept there will be some practical difficulties in certain context, but I think it's a question of attitude here. If there's a political will there's always a way.”

"Pavee Point would encourage the local authorities to engage with the Travelling community in a constructive dialogue solution will be found in my opinion".

Martin has said that investment in horses is already there but should be extended.

"The Irish Government have pumped €80m annually into the equine industry in Ireland and that's to a community that's already very privileged and the elite of Irish society,” he said. “If they can pump €80m per annum into an already well-resourced and privileged sporting industry, surely to God they can pump some funding into [the Travelling community]".

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When asked if he was stating that all traveller accommodation should have access to stables, he said “it’s more nuanced than that.”

“It depends on the local context and not all travellers keep horses anyway.” Martin explained that conditions meant that many travellers had to give up their horses. “Nonetheless, there is still a significant number who continue to own horses and to pass horses from generation to generation and that needs to be supported.”

When asked if he thought it would be too expensive for the tax payer, Martin reiterated that the Government already spend €80m on horse racing for the elite and therefore must give the same support to their working class community.

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