THE proceeds of crime, seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau, may throw a lifeline to the cash-strapped Clondalkin Equine Club, the Dail heard this week.

It emerged that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has supported the club to the tune of €580,000 since its foundation 10 years ago, the largest amount given by the department to any similar project nationwide.

Dublin Mid West TD Mark Ward (SF) raised the issue on Tuesday in the Dail as efforts behind the scenes to secure €60,000 in funding to ensure the club does not close its doors in July intensify. It is home to the horses of 20 young people in one of the capital’s most disadvantaged area with a strong tradition of urban horses.

“We have done a fair bit of work on a Bill relating to proceeds of crime and returning the proceeds seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB, into disadvantaged communities. In fairness to the Minister, Deputy McEntee, she has moved a fair bit on that. There is a grant open for that. I got news of that only tonight. That, I think, would really benefit this community. It is a community of high disadvantage and one that has been detrimentally impacted by crime over the years. If that money seized by CAB were given over to something like the horse project, it would send out a really clear message to the community that it is being listened to and valued. Something needs to happen,” said Deputy Ward.

One of the founders, board member and Dublin Mid West TD Gino Kennny (People before Profit), stressed that the board and the club have exhausted every single known funding avenue. “If we do not get this small amount of funding, the club will have no alternative, unfortunately, but to close its doors in July. As I said, that would be an absolute travesty in respect of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I commend the Department. It has been really good in promoting urban horse ownership.

“Previously, people who owned horses in working-class areas were marginalised and stigmatised and looked upon as scumbags, but that is not the case. The majority of people who keep horses in working-class areas manage and keep their horses very well. A minority could not look after a goldfish, never mind a horse. It is so important this club is kept open.”

Prior to the club opening, this area was one of the capital’s and the nation’s most notorious blackspots for equine welfare cases.

Standing in for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for the debate, Junior Minister Mary Butler (FF) took on board the comments of the two TDs.

Minister Butler pointed out that the DAFM has committed over €580,000 to this project in support since its inception and has worked very closely with the club, South Dublin County Council and Government agencies.

“However, I take on board what the Deputy said as a board member, that the board and the club have exhausted every single avenue. I also take on board what Deputy Ward said about how it is a highly disadvantaged community. That is very important. All I can say to the Deputies is that I will bring their thoughts back to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and give them a commitment that I will also speak to the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, about what they have raised tonight. That is all the information I have so I cannot say any more about the matter, but I take on board how genuine both Deputies are about this facility,” said Minister Butler.