Deputy McGrath wants to get sulky racing off the public roads and address animal cruelty.

Concerns over sulky racing

Members of the Tipperary Joint Policing Committee at their February meeting called for the abolition of sulky racing on public roads, citing cruelty to the horses used for such events and the impact the races have on road safety.

Deputy Mattie McGrath said he brought the matter of sulky racing in a bill before the Dáil last year but got no support for it. He wanted to get sulky racing off the public roads and address animal cruelty. Unless the problems associated with such activity were tackled on a national level there would be no solutions.

Committee member Ann Williamson questioned how sulky racing could be tolerated on public roads with no tax and no insurance cover. These races were a danger to all other road users.

Deputy Martin Browne said sulky racing was illegal in Ireland and Garda Chief Superintendent Derek Smart concurred, stating that such racing on public roads was an offence, but gardaí had to catch perpetrators in the act to take action against them.

He said members of the force could also follow up on offences evident from footage posted of such events on social media.

The welfare of the ponies used was also a big concern to gardaí and everything was being done within existing legislation to protect animal welfare. A prosecution was pending on an alleged dangerous driving incident at one recent event in Roscrea.

Sulkies were not mechanically propelled vehicles and were not subject to insurance or tax, but horses and ponies used had to be licensed with the county council and it was on this aspect the local authority could act in the event of unlicensed animals being used for racing.

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