Talk show host Bill Maher has slammed actor Liam Neeson saying he is going out of his way to “champion animal abuse” by supporting the horse and carriage industry in Central Park.
Maher also stated that he stopped looking at Neeson’s movies since he became aware of the actor’s work supporting the horse and carriage drivers who Mayor Bill De Blasio also wants to ban.“I can’t stand to look at him,” Maher said of Neeson.
“And you know, if I was on a plane maybe I’d watch one of his movies, but why a guy would go out of his way to champion animal abuse, I have no idea.”
Over half of the horse and carriage drivers are Irish and up to 300 people depend on the industry for their livelihood.
Stephen Malone, the Irish spokesman for the group disputed Maher’s comments “Our horses . . . get the best care available and live in comfortable, safe stables,” he said. He invited Maher to see for himself and visit the stables.
Neeson, whose public appearances in defense of the industry last month included a call for de Blasio to “man up” and meet the horses and drivers in person, penned an op-ed for The New York Times in which he claimed class is at the root of the proposed ban.
“I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: [the drivers’] livelihoods are now at risk because the animal rights opponents of the industry are well-funded by real estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties owned by the stables,” Neeson wrote.
“As a result, an entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat. We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?”
In January the Irish Voice and IrishCentral published an open letter from Neeson in which is described the ulterior motives at play in the proposed ban as "a land grab."
A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed 68 per cent of New Yorkers in favor of keeping the horse and carriage trade.
“Liam Neeson has seen for himself how the horses are treated. Bill Maher is welcome to do the same.”