Despite making the ban on carriage horses one of his leading campaign promises and recently nudging it towards legislation, the mayor has yet to set foot inside the mid-town west stables where they reside. Up to 50 of the drivers are from Ireland.
The mayor confirmed his plans in a recent interview with the New York Daily News, but said he did not anticipate the visit would change his mind on the ban.
“If I go see the stables, they could be beautiful. They could be gold-plated. But it doesn’t change my basic belief that horses should not be in the middle of Midtown Manhattan and traffic,” he said.
His decision comes on the heels of a Quinnipiac poll that revealed 67% of New Yorkers to be in support of keeping the carriage horse industry. It was the largest showing of support since polls on the issue began in January 2014, as de Blasio took office.
The poll also showed de Blasio himself to have a 47% approval rating, with only 22% in favor of his proposed ban.
News of the mayor’s upcoming visit will likely be welcome news to actor Liam Neeson, a fierce supporter of the carriage drivers, many of whom are Irish. Earlier this year, in March, the “Taken” star asked de Blasio to join him on a tour of the carriage horse stables. The mayor did not accept.
De Blasio told the Daily News that he declined Neeson’s invitation because it was “short notice.”
“This was something I didn’t think was the right way to do it. But I’m happy to go there,” he said.
Colm McKeever, the Co. Meath-born co-owner of the Shamrock Stables, declined to say whether the invitation was still open to de Blasio.
Watch a video of McKeever at work: