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NI movie star Liam Neeson hits out at plans to replace the iconic New York Central Park steeds with electric carriages


Horse Carriage in Central Park, New York City

Horse Carriage in Central Park, New York City

Horse Carriage in Central Park, New York City

Liam Neeson is channelling the memories of working with horses in Co Armagh in his fight to keep New York’s famous carriage horses trotting round Central Park.

The Ballymena-born star, who now lives in New York, is a huge fan of the animals which are a huge Manhattan tourist attraction.

Schindler’s List and Taken star Neeson (70) has appealed to New York’s mayor Eric Adams to ignore campaigners who want to see the horses saved from “inhumane” treatment. He wants to stop a bill before the City Council that would replace the horses with electric carriages.

He called the new efforts to rid the city of carriage horses an “outrageous attempt” that would eventually lead to “greedy” real estate developers snapping up the valuable land on the far West Side of Manhattan where the city’s three horse stables are located.


Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson

In a letter to Adams Neeson, who regularly walks around the famous park, says: “Carriages have been pulling New Yorkers since 1692.

“In response to the false claims of animal ‘cruelty,’ I invited the City Council and mayor to tour the state-of-the-art stables to prove the horses have the best care. Only our feckless former mayor [Bill de Blasio] refused to attend!

“I’m a proud son of the Old Sod, spending summers on a farm in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. I’m now a proud naturalized American citizen and a New Yorker.

“On my uncle’s farm, I worked with and cared for his horses. In my movies, I not only rode horses, I also helped care for them. I know and love horses so I’m writing to you asking for your help.”

But New York City Council Member Robert Holden - who is introducing a bill to replace the nags with electric carriages by 2024 - defended his actions.

He said: “The carriages would be electric low-speed vehicles that have a maximum speed performance of no more than 25 miles per hour.

“In Central Park, the carriages would be limited to speeds of three miles per hour. The city would be responsible for establishing a program to lease or sell the new carriages to prospective owners, with priority given to former horse-drawn cab license holders.

"Under the new program, carriage owners would be required to pay carriage drivers a prevailing wage that would be set by the comptroller."

Millions of tourists flock to Midtown Manhattan every summer to see the carriage horses being trotted around Central Park and the profession makes a tidy profit for the largely Irish community which runs it.

Opponents, though, say the horses are being worked into the ground and that summer is hell for them because they suffer in the heat and there are are no stables near Central Park.

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