Welfare probes for 220 people after horse fair mayhem

SOCIAL Welfare inspectors are investigating 220 people in relation to this month’s Smithfield horse fair in Dublin.

They have already made €50,000 in welfare savings and further savings are anticipated.

As part of a multi-agency crackdown on the event, the Revenue Commissioners identified 20 people who were not registered to trade.

Revenue Custom’s officers also seized nine vehicles for non-payment of vehicle registration tax and made eight detections of suspected laundered oil from vehicles.

The Gardaí coordinated nine separate state agencies and private companies in the crackdown.

The horse fair was the scene of mayhem last March when one person was shot and a 17-year-old youth lost in arm in a machete attack.

More than 3,000 people, along with 300 horses, crammed into the Smithfield plaza for the March fair. The violence which ensued, driven by a feud between Traveller gangs, led to widespread calls for the historic event to be banned.

Dublin City Council said it could not do this unless the law was changed.

Pending that, gardaí in the north central division planned a massive operation in conjunction with other agencies to ensure a safe event took place, in full compliance with health and safety and animal welfare.

Inspector Tony Healy of Bridewell Garda Station gave details to the Dublin Central Joint Policing Committee yesterday. He said the September event was an international horse fair attracting people and animals from the North, Britain and mainland Europe. Gardaí and Customs contacted ports in those countries and sought records of passengers. They were then present at Irish ports and along the border to stop vehicles and passengers.

Gardaí placed cordons around Smithfield and closed all but one road leading to the plaza. As a result, just 40 people and seven horses took part in the fair.

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