The Daily Show
During an appearance on "The Daily Show" Wednesday, actor Liam Neeson spoke out against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to eliminate the use of horse-drawn carriages.
"I am a little bit pissed off at our elected new mayor,” Neeson told host Jon Stewart. "He wants to close this horse and carriage industry in New York. There was a poll last week: Over 60 percent of New Yorkers want to keep the horse carriage industry in Central Park.”
The actor was referencing a January poll conducted by Quinnipiac University finding 61 percent of New York City voters oppose placing a ban on the carriages.
Neeson has been an outspoken advocate of the controversial practice. His close friend, Colm McKeever, is a horse and carriage owner in New York.
In a piece for The Irish Central in January, he slammed de Blasio's push to shut down the industry, accusing the mayor of making the "iconoclastic move based purely on hearsay."
Neeson was particularly critical of de Blasio's refusal to meet with industry officials or visit the horses' stables.
"These horses are well cared for, provided for and, perhaps, most importantly of all, have a job, in one of the world’s most bucolic settings, Central Park," he wrote. "Why don’t you come to the stables, meet with the business owners and see the conditions first hand?"
During Wednesday's appearance, Stewart pushed back on Neeson's claims, saying he felt bad for the animals.
De Blasio's mayoral campaign was largely supported by carriage industry opponents and animal rights activists. He repeatedly vowed to end the practice, citing inhumane conditions horses were forced to endure.
A 2007 audit conducted by then comptroller William Thompson found the city had "dropped the ball" concerning the welfare of horses used for carriage rides. Horses were found to be lacking sufficient water and often forced to live in their own waste because of a lack in proper drainage.
Following criticism over his refusal to meet with industry officials, the mayor announced last week he would make a visit to survey the stables' conditions, but said the visit would not sway his decision.
“I’ll look at the stables,” de Blasio said. “[But] the bottom line is, we know where we're going on this.”