Friday 19 October 2018

Operation Mop Up as Oxegen fans go home

Fans leaving the Oxegen site in Punchestown yesterday
Fans leaving the Oxegen site in Punchestown yesterday
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A SMALL army of staff and volunteers battled steady rain and drizzle in a massive clean-up operation at the Punchestown racecourse as thousands of diehard Oxegen fans headed for home yesterday.

Cold, wet and muddied revellers packed up their soaking tents and belongings and made a beeline for dry clothes and warm beds yesterday morning.

About 1,000 staff and volunteers worked in swamp-like conditions to clear the site of litter, equipment, abandoned tents, empty beer crates and other debris left by 80,000 rock fans over the four-day music festival.

By noon most of the stragglers had packed up their kit bags and left the campsite following another day of non-stop rain similar to Saturday's five-hour deluge that left the racecourse resembling a scene from the World War I battle trenches.

Although the site remained officially open until 6pm last night, the rain drove them away in droves on Sunday night and only the die-hards stuck around to see The Killers bring the festival to a close.

"We saw a steady stream leaving at 8am yesterday," said Nicola Hudson of AA Roadwatch.

While there were delays of up to 80 minutes at the racecourse exits yesterday, traffic flowed fairly smoothly from the site to Dublin city centre, she said.

Even Dublin Bus gave up the ghost by 3pm yesterday when the last of its shuttle buses left the site carrying festival-weary passengers.

More than 200 gardai were present at the site over the weekend, resulting in 114 arrests for road traffic and public order offences, theft, assault and offences under the Misuse of Drugs act. This compared to 137 similar arrests last year.

One man was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon after a concert-goer was stabbed with a bottle at the entrance to the 'blue' car park between 11pm and midnight on Friday. There were no other serious physical or sexual assaults, gardai confirmed.

The €1.5m spend on erecting permanent roadways and thicker grass to soak up the rain also helped to keep the mud somewhat under control.

Fans gave the festival a thumbs-up after a stellar line-up, including Blur, Snow Patrol, The Killers, Kings of Leon and The Specials.

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