New York City

Actor Liam Neeson Wrangles With de Blasio Over Horse-Drawn Carriages, Sticks Up for Drivers Who Would Lose Jobs

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Paul Hadsall/Flickr

Liam Neeson is best known for fighting Nazis and Sith and sex traffickers, but the action hero's latest foe is of a decidedly more mundane variety. Neeson is currently battling New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over the mayor's proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages in NYC. Over the weekend, Neeson escorted more than a dozen City Council members on a tour of a Manhattan horse stable.

He had invited de Blasio along, too, but the mayor declined. "He should have manned up and come," said Neeson.

Upon taking office in January 2014, de Blasio announced that one of his top priorities was "to quickly and aggressively" eradicate horse-drawn carriages from the New York City landscape. The mayor said he would replace the "inhumane" option with "electric, vintage-replica tourist-friendly vehicles." 

"That's exactly what New York needs, more cars," scoffed Neeson on Sunday's stable tour. "This experiment has been tried with electric cars in San Francisco: Failed, abysmally." 

As New York magazine points out, "there is no shortage of celebrity animal-rights activists who support Mayor de Blasio's plan," but Neeson is one of the first celebrities to side with "the 300 plus drivers and stable workers who may be put out of work by the ban." On the tour, Neeson and company met with both carriage drivers and animal caretakers to see how horses were "well cared for."

Neeson also suggested that something other than animal welfare might be motivating de Blasio and others who support doing away with the carriages—and their associated horse stables. "The great white elephant in the room," said Neeson, is the "four prime locations on the West Side of New York that realtors must be salivating to get their hands on."