Gardaí have interviewed a number of drivers after reports of car racing on Rossnowlagh Strand on Sunday. One couple, who are home from abroad, were horrified by what they saw. They told the Democrat: “We were walking along the beach with our young child between 4 and 4.30pm, when a car sped past us and up the ramp. We are used to cars driving along the beach but this was different - very dangerous and very frightening. We were horrified, to be honest.”
Garda Supt. Jimmy Coen confirmed that complaints had been made. “We received a number of anonymous calls between 3.30pm and 5pm on Sunday regarding allegations of dangerous driving on Rossnowlagh Strand. Gardaí responded and interviewed a number of drivers at the scene about their behaviour. As no formal complaints were made and no actual incidence of dangerous driving were witnessed by our officers, no arrests were made.
“A pro-arrest and charge policy is in effect with regard to driving at Rossnowlagh beach. This has been enforced over recent years, resulting in a number of convictions at Ballyshannon District Court. In addition, we work very closely with the local authority on this issue and this has generally worked well.
“I would emphasise that we can’t arrest or prosecute a driver unless we ourselves witness careless or dangerous driving, or a member of the public who witnesses such driving is willing to make a formal statement of complaint.” Supt. Coen also pointed out that during the busy summer season, the beach at Rossnowlagh is divided into sections, with vehicles only allowed access to specific areas.
Newly-elected TD Thomas Pringle called on beach racers to “wise up” before someone is killed. “I have asked the Gardaí to ensure that the road traffic laws which are enforced on the roads are also enforced on the local beaches in the North West. We cannot have a repeat of this mindless behaviour, especially during the summer months. I would appeal to these people to wise up before they kill themselves or worse kill other people who use our beaches for recreational purposes. It is very sad that, despite all the efforts of the Gardaí and the road safety organisations, there are still people in our society who think this sort of behaviour is acceptable.”
Ballyshannon Town Councillor Barry O’Neill said such behaviour was a cause for concern. He called on Donegal County Council and the Gardaí to meet before the summer season to see what can be done. “It is largely a matter of enforcement and resources,” he commented. “But I don’t believe that banning cars from the beach entirely is an option.
“Rossnowlagh is one of the most popular beaches in Ireland and the parking facilities are completely inadequate. There is no point trying to ban cars from the beach until the proper infrastructure is put in place.”