Do People in Limerick Really Care About Horses?

It’s no surprise that the mistreatment of horses has been an issue in Limerick for quite some time. It has been reported that Limerick city and council spend “more on dealing with the problem of stray horses than any other local authority” with €613,000 to be spent on seizing and destroying horses this year alone. That is the equivalent of spending €3.20 per person per year on horses. As you can imagine, if this much is being spent on horses, it is very common to see abused horses in everyday life.

In Limericks residential areas, horses are often left to die in the middle of housing estates after owners have “ridden them into the ground”. One man who lives in one of these housing estates explained how one horse was “tied up near a pylon on the green and just left to die. The crows have already started to peck at the poor animal”. He continued to say, “These fellas don’t care about the animals. Once they are finished with them, they just leave them to rot”. I see it myself every time I go into the city. Just the other week I was on my way home from college and a terrified horse was running alongside the bus. The entire bus erupted in laughter as the horse ran through traffic, not knowing where to go obviously having escaped from wherever it was being kept. The next day I was in that area and I saw the same horse dead on the side of the road. If you have no interest in looking after a horse properly, then don’t get one in the first place.

Of course, many people who own horses in Limerick city are doing so illegally as they must own a horse license and have the horse microchipped and many do not. Also if you own a horse, it must be accompanied at all times when outside of the house. However, they are usually left to wander around whatever housing estate they are in if they’re not already tied up in a random field, outside of the owner’s property. As well as this, “if your horse has been found wandering three times within a 12 month period, it can be seized and you will not get your animal back”. These laws seem to be rarely enforced in Limerick city. I have seen the Gardaí being called to scenes where horses have been neglected or have been wandering into other people’s houses and yet the most the owners get is a warning and very rarely is a horse taken away.

Many people who regularly see these horses being neglected and abused think that it is awful and it really is. One man said that this whole situation is, “very cruel and the guards and the council aren’t doing anything about it”. Willie O’Dea added, “This wanton cruelty towards helpless animals says a lot about the mentality of the people who do this”. While it’s great that the people of Limerick recognise this cruelty and look down upon it, they seem to greatly support it in other ways. Do people only care about how horses are treated when it’s in their housing estates? What about when it’s only down the road at the horse racing track? No one seems to have much of a problem with horses being abused then.

Horse racing has always been a very popular sport in Limerick, as you can see from this video from 1940, with its own racecourse now situated in Patrickswell that opened in 2001. More recently, this past month the 10th annual Student Race Day took place there. It always proves to be very popular with the official attendance this year being 13,821. I’m sure that most people who attended weren’t there for the actual racing. However, simply by attending, those thirteen-thousand people still supported and gave their money to this horrible ‘sport’.

In this €1 billion industry, thousands of horses are bred for racing. Yet only between 5% and 10% actually make it to the race track, no prizes for guessing what happens to the rest of them. Many Qatari companies and wealthy men have begun to buy even more land recently throughout Co. Limerick for the purpose of horse breeding, in places like Croom and Knocklong.

However, one of the bigger problems in Irish horse racing is the use of drugs. Horses are often given drugs to keep on racing when they shouldn’t be and they soon become addicted. In 2012, John Hughes (no, not the guy who made The Breakfast Club) was found in possession of “6kg of the powerful anabolic steroid Nitrotain” *. John Hughes was the state veterinary inspector and he was employed by the Department of Agriculture. He was employed between 2002 and 2012 and during that time he illegally imported 250kg of steroids. That’s enough for 62,000 doses. He is now only banned for five years.

John Hughes is not the only man that has been caught in the middle of a horse drugging scandal in Ireland. Sheikh Mohammad is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates but he also owns two stud farms in Ireland, one in Co. Meath and one in Co. Kildare. In 2013, eleven of Sheikh Mohammad’s horses were found to have been pumped full of illegal steroids. The man who was found to have drugged these animals admitted to drugging four more horses and was banned for eight years. That is a very small price to pay for causing that amount of damage to that many animals.

Horse racing can be an acceptable sport but I could never support it the way it is now. Many people in other sports choose to take performance enhancing drugs themselves, however, horses do not have that choice and can be pumped full of them whether they like it or not. I’m fully aware that not everyone in Limerick treats horses badly or supports horse racing. I know that because I am one of them and so are the people at Limerick Animal Welfare who take care of many abandoned horses in Limerick. At Limerick Animal Welfare, just €3 can provide a bale of hay for an abandoned horse. If you are at all interested, you can donate here.

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The Importance of Bruce Jenner’s Interview

Note: Bruce Jenner said in the interview that although he is transitioning into a woman, he still prefers male pronouns for now. He has not revealed his female name either, he just refers to his female self as “she”. So for the rest of this post I will use the name Bruce and male pronouns.

Last night in America, ABC showed their two-hour long interview with Bruce Jenner where he revealed that he is in fact a woman, “for all intents and purposes, I am a woman”. This highly anticipated interview attracted 17 million viewers and already it has brought in a huge amount of support for Bruce. I knew this was going to be a highly-spoken about topic once the interview aired but I can’t say that I was expecting such a positive response from most people. I’m very glad that he announced it this way and not just in a two-line statement because people needed to hear everything that he needed to say and his interview was important in a number of ways.

For almost two years now, people have been speculating over Bruce Jenner’s possible transition. Everyone was reporting on any update they could get on him every day whether it was true or not. Bruce revealed in the interview that someone went as far as too leak one of his surgery appointments to reduce his Adam’s apple reduced so there was a sea of paparazzi there when he left. He also became the butt of everyone’s jokes on every late night television show in America, not knowing how serious his supposed transition could be to him. Now that he has revealed that he is a woman everyone can stop speculating and hopefully stop making such a huge deal of it because it’s someone’s life, not a punchline, not a news story. Already we can see positive stories and positive tweets about him where there used to be awful jokes.

Being transgender still seems like a fairly new concept to many people. In the interview, ABC said that only 8% of American people say that they know someone who is transgender, so it is quite uncommon. For this reason, it is understandable that so many people were overly curious when it came to Bruce Jenner and his transition as it is something that they rarely heard about. The interview did a very good job of trying to educate people on the matter. They emphasised the fact that being transgender is not a mental illness, as some people may think. They also went through the definitions and differences between transgender, cross-dressing and many more. As well as this, Bruce continuously tried to explain to Diane Sawyer that when someone is transitioning, their sexual orientation does not change along with their gender. This was incredibly important as out of the 17 million people who watched, I’m sure many of them did not know the differences.

Understanding these things is the first step to accepting someone in these circumstances. This certainly was the case for Bruce’s step-daughter, Kim Kardashian. Bruce was of course asked how his famous family reacted to his announcement and they seemed to react very well for the most part. Bruce explained that his step-daughter, Kim, was at first slightly apprehensive. This was until her husband, Kanye West, explained to her, “I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I have that. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything”. After she heard this, she was fully supportive of Bruce. However, not all of his family members were so understanding. Bruce said about his ex-wife Kris Jenner, “if she would have been really good with it and understand, we would probably still be together”. Therefore, from this interview we can clearly see how important a family’s support is to someone going through this transition. It is also clear from this data from The National Transgender Discrimination Survey how important a family’s support and acceptance can be as it shows that transgendered people without family support are more likely to attempt suicide or be incarcerated.

Another thing that we can learn from this interview is that people can begin their transition at any age. Even though Bruce began to dress in his mother’s clothes at the age of eight or nine, he didn’t really begin his transition until recently and he is now sixty-five years old (however, he did take hormones in the 1980’s but he stopped after five years). However, at the other end of the spectrum, one of the doctors featured in this special said that she at children as young as 18 months say that they were not the gender that they were assigned to at birth. There is no ‘right’ age for someone to begin their transition, as this data from The National Transgender Discrimination Survey shows.

The most important thing that everyone should take from this interview is that there is a lot of things that need to be changed. Throughout the interview, we are told stories of transgender people who have committed suicide, or at least attempted it and from beginning to end, Bruce Jenner continuously expresses how much he wants to make a difference. He claims that he is not a spokesperson for the community but he believes that, “what I’m doing is going to do some good and we’re going to change the world… I’d like to think that we could save lives”. I think that this is the main reason why Bruce decided to do an interview rather than a statement. He genuinely wants to make a difference and change how people see the LGBT community. He doesn’t want other people to “live a lie” like he did for his entire life. I really do admire Bruce for doing this so publicly, as people really needed to hear the things that he had to say. I’m going to conclude this post the same way that Bruce concluded his interview by saying, “have an open mind and an open heart”.

Is Skinny-Shaming the Same as Fat-Shaming?

First off, I want to say that I am in no way, shape or form trying to promote any sort of body shaming, nor am I trying to promote any unhealthy lifestyles on either end of the spectrum. Any type of body shaming in unacceptable. I don’t think that anyone should be judged on how their body looks. I know that skinny-shaming is both real and it is awful but it is in no way the same as fat-shaming. Here, I am merely going to try to explain how fat-shaming a much bigger issue than skinny-shaming is.

In the summer of 2014, Meghan Trainer released her song ‘All About That Base’ and almost straight away complaints about the song were flooding in and most of them were related to skinny-shaming. I really did not want to use this song as an example but since it’s one of the songs that is most associated with skinny-shaming, I thought that I should. I want to emphasise how much I am against this anti-feminist song, but not for the reasons you might think. I don’t think that Meghan Trainer is skinny-shaming in ‘All About That Base’. She does in many interviews and many other aspects of life but just not this song. She is simply praising bigger women for “bringing booty back” and just leaving out skinny girls. That is not skinny-shaming. People who claim that this is skinny shaming are making the argument that, “anything that purports fat bodies as worthy of love are inherently skinny-shaming”.

Fat women are left out of the traditional idea of “beauty” they need an extra boost, including this song, to be seen and heard as much as privileged groups, in this case skinny women. Melissa Fabello explains this by saying,

“That’s like if someone uses the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and someone responds with “All lives matter!”

No shit.

Of course all lives matter. Of course all bodies are deserving of love and praise.

But only some lives – and only some bodies – are given that privilege as a birthright. Everyone else has to be louder in order to get even close to that status.”

I am not saying that skinny-shaming is not real, because it is, but instead I am saying that many people mistake the promotion of bigger girls as skinny-shaming when it’s not.

At this time of the year, fat-shaming seems more evident than ever. On Instagram especially, we can already see women posting photos of themselves in swimsuits. It’s great to see all of these women being confident and showing off their bodies but what isn’t great is that depending on your size, these photos can be deemed “inappropriate” and removed from the site. I have seen this happened numerous times with bigger girls, but I have never seen it happen to a skinny girl. If photos of larger women in swimsuits are going to be removed, then in that case, all photos of women in swimsuits should be removed.

Another well-known case of fat-shaming on social media came in the form of “The Dancing Man”. Earlier this year, some photos were posted on Reddit of an over-weight man dancing and another of him sadly looking down at the ground with the caption “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing”. My heart broke when I first saw this. No one should be laughed at it public just because they wanted to dance on a night out. Luckily, the British ‘Dancing Man’ has been found and there are a group of women who are throwing him a party in LA where he can freely dance without judgement.

Social media is not the only place where discrimination against fat people is clearly visible. Unfortunately, it can also be seen in healthcare of all places. In the UK, 54% of doctors who took part in a survey said that they should be allowed to refuse treatment to someone who is obese. Even though obese people are more likely to have more health problems than someone who is of an average weight, this is still a denial of their human rights. I know many people who have real health issues that are responsible for their weight gain and it is not just a case of over-eating or not exercising enough. Yet they are still told by numerous doctors to simply, “eat right and exercise!” even though their diet is obviously not the issue. Of course heavier people have more health risks than an average sized person, but the same goes at the other end of the spectrum and they should not be discriminated against for that.

The average dress size for women in the UK and Ireland is between sized 12 and 14. Plus-size is usually considered to be a size 16, or sometimes 14, which is not far off the national average. Therefore, many shops stop stocking clothes any bigger than the average woman’s size meaning that if you’re even slightly bigger than average, you’ll have a very difficult time finding nice clothes on the high-street. Plus-size women constantly have to fight just to get brands to start making their sizes. While this is mainly an issue for bigger women, I am aware that it can be the case for thinner women as well. This mainstream idea of body-shaming was reinforced yesterday when singer Jamelia said on Loose Women, “I don’t believe stores should stock clothes below or above that range” and that high street stores should only cater to average women.

While I am fully aware that skinny-shaming is an issue, it is nowhere near as serious of an issue as fat-shaming is. Fat-shaming and discrimination can be seen in all aspects of life from healthcare to the judicial system. No one should be made to feel bad about their bodies and all forms of body-shaming should be stopped. However, we cannot even start to try to get rid of it until we realise what issues are more serious and realise our own privileges.

The Appeal of The Queens

Drag Queens are nothing new. Drag Queens as we traditionally know them began to appear in the late 19th century. Both Drag Kings and Queens frequently appeared in Shakespearean plays such as As You Like It and The Merchant of Veniceand more recently, they have appeared in films including Some Like It Hot in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe. So why are they becoming to popular now? They were the highlight of the club scene in the 80’s but now they seem to be just about everywhere you look.

In February 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race aired for the first time in the United States and since then it has become famous worldwide with two-spin off shows, RuPaul’s Drag U and Beyond Belief, and a UK version (supposedly) in the works. RuPaul’s Drag Race is no doubt the reason for so many young Drag Queens being shot into fame including, Alaska, Sharon Needles, Willam Belli, Adore Delano and Courtney Act with most of them now releasing albums or singles, like ‘Your Makeup Is Terrible‘.

However, not all famous Drag Queens have RuPaul to thank. In 2014, Conchita Wurst, won Eurovision in drag for Austria with the song ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. Her real name is Tom Neuwirth and he started doing drag only three years previously.  According to Neuwirth, Conchita is from the mountains of Colombia and she is married to a French burlesque dancer. She is the first Austrian to win Eurovision in forty-eight years and she is the first Drag Queen to ever win.

Of course I can’t talk about Drag Queens without mentioning our own national treasure, Panti Bliss. She is the hostess of the annual Alternative Miss Ireland pageant and in she opened her own ‘Pantibar’ in Dublin in 2007. Right now she is mainly known as a gay rights activist and is campaigning tirelessly for the Yes vote in the upcoming marriage referendum. In February 2014, she made an inspiring speech at the Abbey Theatre about homophobia and after this she sold “I’m On Team Panti” t-shirts with all proceeds going to BeLonG Youth Services (I may have one of my own).

I get asked quite a bit why I have such an interest in Drag Queens and I know many other people do. I can’t speak for everyone but I’ll try to sum up the main reasons as best I can. Drag Queens are performers. So just like someone would like another type of performer, they’d like a Drag Queen for the same reasons, because they’re entertaining. They can be many different things, they can be singers, comedians, actresses or just hostesses of parties and events. Some people are simply really interested in their makeup and costumes.

Someone’s reasons for liking Drag Queens may also depends on where they’re from. English Drag Queen, Amber Dextrous explains, “if you look at American Drag Queens, particularly, they take an awful lot of time trying to create that allusion of femininity. We don’t. In Britain, I think we try to create that allusion of fun and entertainment“. I see it all the time on RuPaul’s Drag Race that some of the queens are gradually becoming more “fishy” or feminine but whatever your reason for being interested in Drag Queens, is a good enough reason.


“I the the whole trick is, when it comes to drag, is just really not to take it too seriously”

Staffies – Man’s Best Friend

Henry the Staffy
Henry the Staffy

My dog is a Staffordshire Bull Terrior called Henry. Henry is eight years old and he has lived with my family for his entire life. We brought him home a week or two early because his parent’s owners knew that there were people who were looking to steal their puppies for fighting. Henry’s dad became a well-known fighter in the area and had to be put down recently due to injuries. When we brought Henry home we already had a Shih Tzu called Luke. They were best friends until Luke died last summer at the age of twelve. Henry enjoys sunbathing, belly rubs and rashers. While Henry doesn’t usually like having new dogs around, we have never really had any serious problems with him around other dogs, contrary to what people might believe. That’s because we raised him right.

Henry is the perfect example of a dog who narrowly escaped a life of fighting. Henry is also an example of how easy it is to find dogs, especially Staffies and Pitbulls, who are forced to fight in the local area and how easy it is for them to be forced into fighting. If we planned on bringing Henry home a week or two later than we did it is very likely that he would have been taken by some horrible people who would ruin his life for their own gain. Luckily, he didn’t have to endure that, yet many dogs do.

When Henry goes for a walk, whoever is walking him is bombarded with questions on him including, “Do you not put a muzzle on him?”“Do you fight him?” and “Is he for sale?”. The answer to all of them is no, because Henry is a safe dog to be around and dogs should not be forced to fight each other. Staffies are not something you should profit off of. They are not something that you should manipulate and torture for your own personal gain. Staffies and all other Pitbulls are not supposed to fight, they are forced to fight by awful people. They are not dangerous by nature, but some of their owners are.

Staffordshire Bull Terriors are originally from England. They were bred in the 19th Century and were very popular as family used them in order to protect the house and children while the parents weren’t home. They were so well behaved with children that the Staffies got the nickname “The Nanny Dog“. Their natural strength was only put to use when there was an intruder or a danger to the family. It was not used on the children or anyone else as Staffies have a strong sense of loyalty. This is still the case today, unless of course they have the wrong owner.

Staffordshire Bull Terriors, and all Pitbulls, make the perfect pet for anyone at any age including families, children and elderly people. They are amazing, cuddly and loyal dogs and suitable for basically anyone who is willing to take care of a dog. There is no need to be afraid of them once they have been raised properly. Staffies deserve more love and respect (and belly rubs) than they get because they’re softer than you think.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – #softerthanyouthink

The Media and Bruce Jenner: Mainstream Transphobia

If you have read any tabloids in the past year or so, you have probably heard the rumours of Bruce Jenner supposedly transitioning into a woman. Although Jenner if a former Olympic athlete, there is no doubt that he owes his current fame to his famous step-children, The Kardashians. The Kardashians are seen all over the tabloids on a daily basis which have now become the new source of all of Jenner’s rumours and abuse.

At this point it is important to point out that neither Bruce, nor his family, have confirmed that he is in fact transgender. However, whether he is or not this still is no excuse for the tweets and headlines regarding his gender. Only a quick search on Twitter or Google can reveal how little the general public knows about transgendered people and how little respect they have for them. These acts of transphobia from the media can essentially be summarised in this video by TMZ.

The media have become so obsessed with Jenner’s possible transition that they will do anything to get a story on it. Last month, US Weekly published a story claiming that Bruce’s daughter, Kendall Jenner, spoke to them and confirmed that her father was in fact transitioning. Kendall quickly took to Twitter to deny the story, saying that she never spoke to them. US Weeky have since retracted the story.

One of the most shocking acts of transphobia on Bruce Jenner was when an Australian betting site, Sports Bet, started bets on what Jenner’s female name would be.

Belinda ($15) and Brigette ($16) have been regularly linked as potential choices for Bruce but if he wants to go all Alfred Hitchcock and take his mother’s name of Esther, that’s a $51 shot.

While we love the idea of it, Bruscilla is $101 while Dame Edna rounds out the market at $501.

“Fair play to Bruce, it takes a lot of balls to em…cut off your balls. We expect a lot of interest in this market ahead of the big reveal,’’ sportsbet.com.au’s Will Byrne said.

What makes it that bit worse is that the bookmaker initially refused to take down the bet even after issuing and apology. The online bets have since been taken down but the blog post from their website still remains here as lasting proof of Will Byrne’s and SportsBet.com’s public transphobic acts.

If this is what the mainstream media publishes transphobic articles on a daily basis, then the public are likely to believe that it is perfectly acceptable for them to act in the same way, when it’s not. Some impressionable members of the public will think that, because the read so many harsh comments and jokes about transgendered people, they think that they can act the same way too. I’m not saying that everyone will react to the media in this way but many people do, especially young impressionable people. I’m also not saying that the media is the reason that people are transphobic because many people are with or without media.

Not only does the mainstream media make certain people more accepting of their own ignorance, imagine how these headlines make transgendered people feel. According TSER, 41% of transgendered people have attempted suicide. This statistic, of course, has many contributing factors. However, constantly seeing this level of transphobia in the media every day must make many transgendered people feel ashamed and unsafe. Yet the people at TMZ don’t seem to have a problem with this.

Whether Jenner plans on transitioning or not, there is no excuse or need for the media to dissect every aspect of his life and appearance for everyone to see. Jenner does not deserve to have his “before and after” photos broadcasted constantly especially if he is in fact transitioning as this can be very harmful. Nor does he deserve to be the butt of every comedian’s joke. Some people might think that they’re “only having a laugh” if they joke about Jenner or any transgendered person but it’s not something to joke about. Transitioning is a very personal journey in someone’s life. This is not how transgendered people, or anyone, should be treated.