Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has said it is time to call a halt to public criticism of horse trainer Gordon Elliott over the controversial picture of him sitting on a dead horse.
A horse is not a human at the end of the day, the Independent TD said, adding that the horse in the photograph "was dead and this has gone too far".
Mr Elliott is before the Referrals Committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) on Friday after a 2019 photo emerged of the Grand National-winning trainer sitting on top of a dead horse while talking on his mobile phone.
Danny Healy-Rae said he is extremely concerned about the way the trainer is being treated.
“I’m very hurt at the way he’s been treated. Michael O’Leary at least had the courage to stick with him,” the TD said in reference to how some horse owners were pulling their horses from the Elliott yard.
In 2006, the whole Healy-Rae family were upset as they had to search for the albino pony Peg, the beloved pony of his late father Jackie, when she was stolen one evening in March when the late TD returned from the Dáil.
A reward was offered and gardaí followed a line of enquiry. The seven-year-old was found two months later on the Cork-Kerry border dishevelled and tied to a field gate.
Danny Healy-Rae said it was not that he was dismissing people’s upset but a horse was not a human, and the horse in the photograph was dead.
People were reacting as if this were a picture involving a dead human being, he said.
“You can’t make animals human. If there was one breath of life at all left in that horse, I would be the first to condemn what happened. But the horse was dead and this has gone too far.”