Fury as sulky-racing stunt causes chaos on the N7
Published 15/04/2016 | 07:23
A NUMBER of groups have called for regulation of sulky racing to prevent scenarios such as the dangerous scenes which unfolded recently on the N7.
Video footage emerged this week of four men racing ahead of a convoy of traffic on the busy Dublin road at Citywest.
Despite the commuter chaos building up behind them, the racers could be seen cheering and laughing as they were filmed by a man who was shouting out instructions.
The race took place last month. It marks the second time illegal sulky racers have paralysed one of the busiest stretches of road in the country.
Conor Faughnan, of the AA, has called for the future Government to examine how traditional pony-and-trap racing can be regulated.
"If you look at what happened on the N7, there were quite a number of offences being committed by people involved, but what we need to get to is the proper control of sulky races.
"What happened on the N7 is unacceptable and potentially dangerous. It was certainly unfair to other road users and it's not what we want to see," Mr Faughnan said.
"At the same time there should be reasonable facilities and respect for traditions like this. I think the solution is proper regulation and monitoring.
"We often find people contact us to say it should be banned and you have to have sympathy for that point of view. It is disgraceful, and it's neither regulated nor safe, but I don't think it should be banned," he added.
Meanwhile, Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point, warned that banning sulky racing would only drive it underground.
"We hope that the new government will take heed to the view that it should be regulated. Banning it is not a viable option, it will only put it further underground and make it more dangerous for those taking part and spectators," he said.
If there were safe facilities available it would prevent people taking to busy public roads and posing a risk to drivers and themselves, Mr Collins said.
"If there were suitable locations developed, I have no doubt in my mind that both Travellers and non-Travellers who are involved - because it is not just a tradition for Travellers - I have no doubt that these would be used," he added.
"It's like every other sport. There have to be health and safety standards and medics on stand-by. If you look at the unfortunate situation in MMA recently, nobody is calling for that to be banned and rightly so because it would only drive it underground and make it more dangerous," he added.
"People are calling for it to be regulated and the same principal applies to sulky racing. It's to recognise that there are a lot of people who enjoy this activity, but it is incumbent on us all to come up with a solution where it can continue in a safe manner both for the people concerned and the horses."
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said that it is an offence to organise an unlicensed race on a public road.
"Drivers of sulkies and other animal-drawn vehicles are also obliged to comply with road traffic-legislation, and are responsible for behaving in a safe manner, as are all road users," he said.