The campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC has taken a new twist – a backlash against Liam Neeson by Irish groups in Ireland and some Irish Americans after he spoke out against horse carriages in Central Park being banned.

The group calling itself the “Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages” has issued a strong anti-Neeson statement, calling him a bully.

“While not overtly public about his political views, which are decidedly conservative, Neeson has joined the conventional media in NYC and is waging a high-profile campaign against Mayor de Blasio, whose ideology is progressive and threatens the status quo.  DeBlasio has unequivocally said he will ban the horse-drawn carriage trade and Neeson is trying to bully him into changing his mind,” the statement read.

Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages whose mother was born in Ireland, says she began this campaign in 2006.  "I have boycotted Liam Neeson’s films for years.  He is an embarrassment to his own people and the human race.  Neeson has taken his actor’s mask off and revealed himself as a cruel, selfish and bigoted man.”

It is absurd to suggest we are opposed to any ethnic group, least of all the Irish. There are many good people living in Ireland and the US of Irish extraction, who support and work with us on this ban.  If my late mother could see how the drivers treat their horses and how they force them to live and work, she would be ashamed and heartbroken.  She knew horses well and cared about the welfare of all animals.”

The group also attacked the Irish slant of the carriage owners. “The carriage drivers have tried for years to make the campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC into an anti-Irish issue.  But these 'poor Irish lads' are hardly that.  They have been exploiting the City of NY for years with their cash only business – not contributing to the tax base as others do, living quite well – many in wealthy suburbs,” they said.

They further claim that,'One of the carriage driver’s Facebook pages included this vicious comment. "I believe a lot of the carriage people are Irish. Therefore, the radicals are anti Irish bigots. Get the Irish with you. Fight these punks hard. They will be pushed back!!!"'

A member of the group Siobhan Emery stated,  “I’ve always admired Liam Neeson until I learned of his position on carriage horses in the US.   It was not until I met and rescued former carriage horses Monty, Lilly and Teddy did I learn how carriage horses were treated.  So in response to Mr. Neeson’s invitation to visit the NYC stables, I would like to extend my own invitation to him to visit some of my rescues or to see the kill pens where many of the less fortunate carriage horses end up."

Fiona Walsh, artist, activist and Irish immigrant living in NYC stated, “Since moving to NYC I've always believed horses have no place in busy streets among traffic and noise with no respite to pasture.  There are lots of other great attractions and reasons to visit our wonderful city without taking a horse carriage ride on a poor animal that lives a nose-to-tailpipe existence. Anyone with half a heart can see these are not joyous, happy horses. I support Mayor De Blasio's proposed ban.”

Several Irish animal rights groups in Ireland also called for passage of the ban.