Dublin City Council has asked the Government to change the law so it can close down the Smithfield Horse Fair.

But traders say they will resist any attempt to stop a tradition they claim dates back hundreds of years.

In a written reply to Labour Cllr John Lyons, the City Manager John Tierney said the council has asked for legal changes that would allow it to extinguish the right of horse traders to operate a market on the first Sunday of every month at Smithfield.

Under current legislation, the Council cannot do this without providing an alternative site in the vicinity and the manager said the Council cannot afford this.

The manager said that the fair is run by a number of individuals who do not have insurance or an event management plan.

A Health and Safety Survey commissioned by the council found significant risks in all 16 categories examined.

Mr Tierney said the council hoped that the law will be changed ‘soon’.

The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also wants the fair closed and has said it supplies animals that end up being mistreated or neglected all over the city.

But a spokesman for the Smithfield Fair, John Farrell, said Dublin City Council had failed to provide any proper facilities for the market.

And he claimed it was new apartment owners and hoteliers who were pushing for the fair to be closed, even though it was there before they were.

He said he could not see the Council succeeding in closing down the fair.