The chief executive of the Road Safety Authority has condemned an arson attack on a speed camera van which resulted in the operator having to run from the van as he feared for his life.
Noel Brett said the people who destroyed the van do not speak for the people of Donegal or Inishowen.
“The amount of carnage and heartbreak that has happened in Donegal that is road related is the worst in the country,” he said. “In the vast majority of those cases excessive and inappropriate speed is the primary contributing factor, so it is all the more galling that someone in the local community would see fit to destroy a resource that is about keeping people alive.
“One would have thought that in a community like Donegal and in particular Inishowen, people would be lobbying for their politicians and gardaí for more enforcement of road traffic legislation, given the history and given the carnage in the county.”
The operator of the mobile safety camera, who is from Donegal, did not have time to get his phone before he jumped out of the van after the attack in Inishowen in the early hours of Saturday morning. A number of vehicles drove past him and did not stop while the van was burning, it has emerged. The incident happened on the main Quigley’s Point Road to Carndonagh Road at Cashel.
Gardaí say a car pulled in front of the van, operated by the Go-safe company, and two men wearing hooded tops got out of the car. The van went on fire just after the two men left the scene.
Gardaí believe an accelerant, probably petrol, was used to set the van on fire. The attack is the third such incident in the country involving the vans although it is the first case in Donegal. “The van went up in flames and he ran for his life,” Inspector Pat O’Donnell said.
He said it is widely known from previous attacks on vans that the vans are occupied. The operator got out so quickly he did not have time to take his mobile phone and he could have lost his life in the incident.
“I think it is premeditated. There has to be some planning involved in terms of this incident. How anyone could do that I do not understand because these operators are there to save lives,” he said.
“ That particular road has witnessed very serious accidents in the past and that particular time of night is high risk time. That man was doing a duty to his community in assisting in terms of road safety. It is disgraceful.”
Gardaí are to examine footage recorded by the van to help identity those responsible. Insp. O’Donnell appealed for those involved to come forward. The incident happened between 2.30am and 3.30am.