Monday 14 October 2019

Gardaí make more than 90 arrests over Donegal international rally weekend

A racer has died following a crash at the Donegal Rally (Niall Carson/PA)
A racer has died following a crash at the Donegal Rally (Niall Carson/PA)

Callum Lavery

Gardaí in Donegal made around 90 arrests over the course of the International Rally weekend.

Public order offences, assault, drug offences and multiple drink and dangerous driving arrests were made during the weekend.

Some 152,000 spectators flocked to the county to enjoy the festivities this year.

Gardaí employed a "zero tolerance" policy to all crime in what was the largest policing operation in the country over the course of the weekend.

From 7am on Friday morning  to 7am on Saturday there were 11 public order arrests, two drug searches under the misuse of drugs Act, one arrest for dangerous driving, two arrests for drink driving, six vehicles seized, one arrest for assault causing harm and two arrests for simple possession of drugs. 

Posting on the Garda Síochána Donegal Facebook page, gardaí said the first night of the weekend had fewer arrests than previous years.

"We are delighted to announce that the number of arrests overnight for road traffic offences was significantly lower than it has been over the past number of years on the first night of the Donegal International Rally," the post read.

Unfortunately arrests spiked on Saturday with 49 people arrested and 41 people in Garda custody in Letterkenny Garda Station between 5pm on Saturday evening to 7am on Sunday morning.

From 7am on Saturday morning to 7am on Sunday, gardaí arrested 24 people under the Public Order Act, conducted 10 searches under the misuse of drugs act, three arrests for possession of drugs, one arrest for assault causing harm, four people arrested for dangerous driving and seven people were arrested for drink driving.  

On the final night of the weekend, Donegal Gardaí arrested 11 people for public order offences, one person was searched under the misuse of drugs act, one person was arrested for assault causing harm, two people were arrested for dangerous driving, one person was arrested for drink driving and one person was arrested for criminal damage.

The international rally provides the local Donegal economy by an estimated €20 million each year.

Tragedy struck at this year's event on Sunday when councillor and driver Manus Kelly (41) crashed on the Fanad Head loop, midway through the first stage of the day.

Mr Kelly tragically died in the accident while his injured co-driver Donall Barrett was taken to hospital. The remaining stages of the rally were cancelled.

Mr Kelly, a newly elected Fianna Fáil member of Donegal County Council, had won the event the previous three years.

"We lost one of our great sporting heroes in Donegal and a giant of a GAA follower and supporter of our game. We can only sympathise and remember Manus in our prayers. He lived rallying, it was his main sport," said Donegal GAA team manager, Mick McGrath, on his death.

An Garda Siochana confirmed the arrests this evening.

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