It is said that all animals are equal. But in Ireland, some animals are more equal than others - at least when it comes to meat on our dinner table.
Supermarket chains in the country found that out the hard way last week when they were forced to withdraw beef burgers contaminated with horse meat.
In many European countries, the horse is seen as a cow with a longer neck. A farm animal. A source of food.
On our island, the horse rivals the dog as man’s best friend.
We don’t like to see horses on our dinner plate. We like to see our horses in fields, galloping across finishing lines and nuzzling our faces.
“It’s not in our culture to eat horse meat in Ireland,” said Joanne Mc Cabe, a horse-lover from Oaktree Stables, Bellurgan Park, while speaking to the Dundalk Democrat this week.
“When I first heard about the scandal, I thought that it posed a danger to the consumer. It was a relief to know that it was of no danger.
“The supermarkets should clearly label what is in our products,” said Joanne.
When asked if she ever consumed horse meat, the show jumper said “No, I haven’t and I will never. I don’t agree with eating it.
“It would be upsetting for horse lovers like myself to think that one of our own horses is on our dinner plate. They are great friends.
“I have often travelled abroad to countries where horse meat is part of their cultural. Although, while there, I have never met any Irish people that have consumed horse meat.
“It’s not for the Irish people,” added Joanne, who has been involved with horses since she was six-years-old.
But why is there little, or no chance, of horse becoming a popular dish on our menus?
The horse is sentimental to the Irish, it’s an extension of the family pet, an animal that you can have a relationship with.
And you don’t eat your pals.