The safety message around the Topaz Donegal International Rally seems to have got through, with the fire service in the county reporting no road related call-outs during the event.
Gardaí in Letterkenny also said the event was reasonably quiet with the number of arrests just a little higher than would be expected on a normal weekend in the town.
The event was stopped last year following the death of co-driver, Thomas Maguire and the success of this year’s event will be welcome news to organisers and motor racing fans.
The rally had been the target of a safety campaign by the Donegal Motor Club, the county council, the Road Safety Authority and Motorsport Ireland. With the slogan, “Keep the race in its place,” the campaign was aimed at reducing motoring offences linked to the rally.
A total of 32 arrests were made in the Letterkenny district during the course of the event with 17 for public order and five for drink driving. Just one dangerous driving arrest was made in the Letterkenny area. Donegal’s Chief Fire Officer Bobby McMenamin said there were no reported road call-outs over the weekend for the rally, the biggest event of any kind staged in the county.
“It would be unusual to have no call-outs over that weekend. When you have so many people coming into the county and travelling around we would normally have one or two accidents that we would have to attend, so it is very positive that we did not have to go to any.”
Clerk of the Course, Danny Gormley said he was delighted that the event passed without any major incidents.
“It was great to get into Letterkenny on the Sunday night because for two of the six that I have been clerk of the course we didn’t make it to that stage. We got in a bit late into Letterkenny but we have to make sure the spectators are safe and if that means we have to run a late rally then we will run a late rally.”
Donegal County Council Road safety officer Eamonn Browne said that he was aware that some ‘doughnut trails’ were left on roads in the county over the weekend. “There would have been some of that sort of behaviour but overall it is a smaller and smaller group each year. It seems that people did take heed of the message,” he said. “I know there was a good bit of enforcement done over the weekend, but I think because it was quiet for the emergency services then it is a sign that people did listen and show a bit of respect for the roads. The rally brings so many people into the county and is a much needed boost for the economy and it is great to see it went off in the manner we wanted it to go off,” he said.
Rally special. pages 31/34; 58/61.