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Dublin’s famous Army Equitation School will not be closed as part of the Irish government’s spending cutbacks.

Yesterday (10 December) Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea announced: “While some cost reducing measures proposed in the [government’s] McCarthy report will be introduced, I have decided not to accept the suggestion that the Army Equitation School be closed.”

“It is an important and emblematic feature of the defence forces and I believe it should continue its good work representing the Forces and Ireland.”

The equitation school has trained some of Ireland’s best show jumpers and came under threat as part of a strategy to trim €53.4 million from Ireland’s €1 billion defence budget.

A spokesman for the Army Equitation School, Captain Pat O’Connor said: “We are delighted by this news. Generations of Irish people have grown up watching riders from the equitation school, like Captain Gerry Mullins, jumping on the telly and there was no public appetite for the school to close.

“The school was set up to promote the Irish horse and still does that. To this day it only uses horses bred in Ireland.”

Horse Sport Ireland chairman Joe Walsh also welcomed the move, saying: “I am very pleased with the news. The Army Equitation School is world famous, and I think it is an enlightened step by the government to maintain this long and distinguished tradition.”