So now we have to put up with gunfights in the street, because some crowd of gobshites claim they’ve been selling horses in Smithfield for four hundred years? Isn’t that great?
The cops don’t want the horse fair in Smithfield because they know what kind of hooligans it’s attracting. Dublin City Council don’t want it because they can see it’s arranged by — sorry about this — cowboys with no management plan, no safety arrangements, no insurance, no stewarding and no animal welfare. The DSPCA don’t want it because they know how cruel it is to treat horses this way. The general public don’t want it because they’re city people and most city people don’t ride around the pavement on horses.
That leaves a small group who think it’s acceptable to take over a public space in Dublin once a month and subject the residents to sporadic outbreaks of violence or, in the latest case, gunfire.
If you want to hold a music event, you have to get planning permission and you have to enter into a very tight arrangement regarding security, traffic management, public liability and consideration for the neighbours. But not, it seems, if you have a tradition that involves horses.
Anyway, why does tradition trump civilisation? Since when did tradition justify anything? In certain African countries, people practise female genital mutilation but you won’t hear anyone in Ireland defending it on the grounds of tradition. Nobody defends the tradition among some Indians of burning brides who don’t provide a large-enough dowry.
We’ve abandoned all sorts of traditions in this country.
At one time, we had a tradition of torturing people we thought were possessed. We had a tradition of locking up women who became pregnant outside marriage. Until relatively recently, we had a horrible tradition of churching women who had given birth.
Those things are gone, and nobody but a madman would try to defend them on the grounds of tradition.
As DSPCA general manager, Jimmy Cahill, said about the Smithfield fair,
This is not some quaint tradition that celebrates Ireland’s love for horses. This is a major health and safety issue that today moved firmly into criminality. The Smithfield market is unlicensed, unregulated and completely unsuitable for horses. We have regularly come across neglected and injured horses here which flies in the face of Ireland’s reputation as a nation of horse lovers.
In other words, the people who organise this sale, and those who attend, couldn’t care less about the welfare of the animals they traffic. They’re in it for the money, they haven’t the slightest interest in their duties to their fellow citizens and invoking tradition is only a means of protecting their profits.
Meanwhile, the PC bandwagon rolls on.
Although the violence seems to be coming from feuds among Traveller families, the Smithfield horse fair is attended by people from all sorts of background. Some of them are Travellers and some are not. Despite that, if you stick your neck out and criticise what’s going on, the usual gang will emerge to accuse you of being racist, which is why the majority of commentators have been silenced.
It isn’t about whether people are Travellers. It’s about whether people have any respect for those with whom they share our streets.
One way or another, it’s about time we started to confront those who use their supposed traditions to — sorry — ride roughshod over the rest of us. I don’t have a tradition of selling horses on the street or riding sulkies on the open road. Do you?
I have a tradition of keeping myself to myself and not interfering with anyone else, and I suspect you do too.
Maybe it’s about time our traditions started to count for something. So what if they’ve been doing it for four hundred years? Maybe it’s time they stopped.