Monday 20 November 2017

Man has ear bitten off during Donegal rally as 59 arrested in weekend of chaos

Stock picture
Stock picture

Greg Harkin

A NUMBER of people arrested during the Donegal International Rally at the weekend are due in court in Letterkenny later today.

Gardaí say 59 people were held for various offences over the three days of the rally, twice the number of arrests for the same event last year.

Gda Insp Goretti Sheridan said the number of incidents had left officers shocked.

The breakdown of the arrests included 21 people held for dangerous driving, 14 arrests for drink-driving, and 23 arrests for public order and criminal damage offences.

One of the suspected drink-drivers is just 17.

Another driver was arrested with the help of local taxi drivers in Letterkenny after he drove at speed on the wrong side of Pearse Road in the town.

The rally drew in its biggest crowd for years with an estimated 35,000 extra visitors to north Donegal.

In Carrigart a man from Northern Ireland lost part of his ear after it was bitten during a melee a number of other people from the North.

Insp Sheridan said many of those arrested over the weekend weren't even following the rally.

"Certainly when it came to a lot of the public order incidents in Letterkenny, we were dealing with people who were in the county for the rally weekend but who were not actually following the rally," she said.

"Some of the behaviour was disgraceful. The dangerous driving and drink-driving incidents were shocking."

Gardaí deployed extra motorbike officers, the Garda helicopter, a dozen unmarked vehicles as well as regular patrol vehicles. Road Safety Authority engineers were also on duty detecting modified cars.

The vast majority of actual rally fans behaved "impeccably" throughout the event which finished last night in Letterkenny.

But despite the resources, it was clear gardaí were under-staffed for the event, according to residents in Letterkenny who have taken to social media to complain today.

Residents in Manorcunningham claim up to 50 vehicles were involved in races on the main Letterkenny to Derry road at 6am on Sunday.

On Letterkenny's Port Road there were brawls between drunken youths.

"There just weren't enough guards around. This weekend is a nightmare every year," posted on irate resident.

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