Monday, March 28, 2011


Young children and their mothers walking home from primary school in Moyross had to run for safety this afternoon or risk being trampled by a loose bunch of ponies and horses.
The dozens of horses kept in Moyross cause no trouble for people normally, but on this occasion a herd mounted a footpath at a gallop after a local adult panicked them. He was taking part in a round-up after word went around that the pound were in Moyross to take away animals. The drama unfolded outside ‘Changing Ireland’s front door.
One of the mothers expressed her anger afterwards. She cursed the Gardai and the pound for coming out “at this hour”, saying such work should be conducted by night – certainly not while children are on their way home from school.
Meanwhile, dozens of horse-owning youngsters anxious about their animals ran to the field the pound normally targets. As residents and community workers will tell you, the pound likes to pick on the well-kept horses that are tied, rather than chase after animals that are loose and are a genuine danger.
The pound – which is privately run - has been condemned for this approach for years but nothing has changed.
The Control of Horses Act is 15 years old this year and is detested locally. It has made it illegal to own horses in urban areas, alienating many youngsters and costing the State millions in payments to the pound people. However, despite the fact that thousands of horses have been impounded, this approach has failed to kill off the urban horse culture.
When it was introduced, there was talk of horse projects for neighbourhoods where many of the residents like horses, but nothing came of such promises in Limerick. For 14 years, the Community Development Network Moyross tried alongside the horse-owners but the powers-that-be stone-walled every approach.
“They’d be better off spending the money they waste on the pound by using it to set up a horse project. All we want is a place where we can keep our horses and look after them,” said one local horse-owner.
Editor, Allen Meagher, is currently investigating what can be done from a community perspective to preserve and nurture the horse culture safely both here in Limerick and in other parts of the country.
Horses, in our experience, are generally well looked after by people here and some are exceptionally well cared for. A story of horse-cruelty in the area some weeks ago received hours of local radio coverage but the story was greeted with incredulity by many locals here and questions have been asked about the story’s veracity.
“If it’s true, it’s disgusting,” said one local horse owner. “If I found people hurting a horse, I don’t want to tell you what I’d do to them.”
Meanwhile, everytime the pound visits Limerick there is drama, but it is rare that people find themselves in such danger as occurred today.
The outcomes would be very different if the local authority took a community development approach to the matter.
Meanwhile, the Gardai are employed to officially close roads for car rally-races, yet sulkie-racing – potentially a tourism attraction if it was nurtured – is never accommodated.
Incidentally, it costs around €1500 to get a horse back from the pound which makes the panic that erupts when the pound is seen approaching understandable.
Most horse-owners never see their pets again.


‎"It's not all about the horses," says Adeline O'Brien of Cherry Orchard Equine Centre. Watch our 2 min interview with Adeline here:
The project is 8 years old, caters for 650 young people from Ballyfermot and is part-funded through the Local and Community Development Program

 PICTURED ABOVE: A young volunteer, one of the youngest in Ireland!
 PICTURED ABOVE: Two young volunteers
 PICTURED ABOVE: the indoor arena. Outside there is another arena, a gallop track and 12 acres for grazing.
 PICTURED ABOVE: Adeline O'Brien, the boss.

PICTURED ABOVE: Staff members at reception

'CHANGING IRELAND's Allen Meagher was interviewed about the anti-Traveller Facebook sites on Radio Kerry this morning. Click here for a listen (6 mins):

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

File gone to DPP over Facebook’s anti-Traveller sites

CAPTION: Four anti-Traveller sites were removed by Facebook last year following complaints by community activists in the Republic and Northern Ireland. A file has now gone to the DPP in relation to one of the people behind one of the sites.
GardaĆ­ have confirmed that a file has been sent to the DPP in relation to the posting of racist material online by a man from Kerry.
“Promote The Use Of Knacker Babies As Bait” was set up by four men in their 20s and 30s from Killarney, two of whom worked at the time in the tourism industry. The file sent to the DPP is in relation to the ringleader and Gardai have not ruled out the possibility that others including Facebook Inc. which hosted the site may face charges.
Community workers in the Republic and Northern Ireland campaigned for weeks before the site and two others – which had garnered a fan-base of close to 10,000 over a year-long period – were removed last July by Facebook.
Sergeant Dave McInerney from the Garda Racial and Intercultural Office in Dublin confirmed the matter had been under investigation for some months and that a file in relation to one of the sites has now been sent to the DPP.
“No arrests were made but a number of individuals were questioned by GardaĆ­ in Killarney as the file was being prepared. We received calls about the racist sites from all around the country,” he said.
He confirmed that if the case goes ahead, it will mark the first time that anyone is brought before the courts for publishing online racism.
Among those who filed the original complaints were members of Pavee Point, the Kerry Travellers Development Group and the Waterford Travellers Development Project. Each project is part of the Local and Community Development Programme which is committed to promoting equality and social inclusion and to challenging discrimination.
Pavee Point handed over evidence including the identities of close to a dozen people behind the sites.
A Traveller woman and community activist from Co. Kerry, Mary Boyne from Killarney said at the time, “We must make it our business to see that all members of Facebook who participated in these hate sites be reported and prosecuted.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


International Women's Day was marked around the country yesterday and much was celebrated in terms of how far we've come in 100 years.
Our photo here shows women working in a factory in Cork in 1911.
Working conditions were widely recognised as a problem at the time and women's work unions began campaigning that year for clean and safe working conditions for themselves and for child-labourers.
Also in 2011, two other key campaigns began as women campaigned for the right to vote and for the right to equal pay.
It's worth reflecting on how far we've come in 100 years on women's rights! And how much work remains!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


If you're a community worker wrecking your head over how to get people involved in activities, check out page 13 of the latest issue as well as the following:


A “youth club for grown-ups”

- a volunteer/participant view

Helen Ring is a local parent and community volunteer with the Time Out Club in Our Lady of Lourdes/Weston, a successful pilot scheme that that could be copied by any community (there’s a template available).

She told 'Changing Ireland':

- The group named the project themselves.

- They decide at the beginning what activities they’d like to do.

- The age-range is from 20-57 and the door is open to anyone.

- It really develops your confidence.

- It’s the only new group to form in recent times in our community.

- The participants don’t pay for anything.

“There are 17 in the group now and we find it great, relaxing, a way of getting out of the house," said Helen. "It’s especially important now with the recession to get a break, it’s time out for ourselves and it’s whatever we want to do that counts.”

“Everything we do now is a one-off and we’re always trying something new, every week – anything from hairdressing lessons to canvas printing to guest-talks - it’s a youth club for grown ups,” said Helen.

One of the more unusual things the women learned how to do was to make small rocking-chairs for children.

They’ve also had a child-expert in to run a course called ‘Cool Talking’ which has done wonders for relations between mothers and their teenagers: “I’ve two teenage girls and an 11-year-old son and an older son who’s getting married soon.

“Now I’ve learned to listen and talk rather than going in screaming! One woman says her son has become tidier because of her doing that course and we’ve all become better listeners. I’d recommend this course even for young parents.”

“Every community should have a time-out club for its women. Just try it!”

Helen does so much volunteering that her neighbours think she’s got a paid job. An example of one small thing she does is every Tuesday she sends out a reminder text to parents about the Time Out Club. Small things matter!

See further coverage on page 13 of our Spring 2011 issue (click here!).

CAPTION: Time Out Club members.


Gearoid Fitzgibbon asks what the many groups seeking political reform will do now the election is over.
The article (on page 12) is published in the latest edition of Changing Ireland OUT NOW:!.pdf