Wednesday 23 January 2019

WATCH: 'They were sitting out car windows hollering' - footage shows cars six-abreast on busy Dublin road during sulky race chaos Newsdesk Newsdesk

Motorists were left frustrated by a "dangerous" sulky race causing delays on one of the country's busiest routes this morning.

Up to six vehicles at a time were captured on video driving slowly across three lanes on the N7 Naas Road, allowing for a sulky race to take place on the busy road.

Witnesses described how spectators of the race leaned out from the windows of the moving vehicles, shouting and yelling at the ongoing race.

The incident occurred shortly after 7am along the N7 northbound carriages in Kildare and south Dublin. 

Footage, captured by an reader, shows cars involved in the incident driving up on the grassy verge beside the road as frustrated motorists are forced to remain behind the race.

"It was dangerous," a witness said, "they were driving six abreast on the motorway.

"I was driving up by Castlewarden towards Dublin, and just noticed a lot of brake lights were coming on.

"And I noticed there were more cars than lanes across the road. I had to stop suddenly. Cars were veering onto the verge in the middle of the road.

"There were people hanging out of the car windows on their phones trying to record the sulky race."

He continued; "Some cars were trying to pass, but they just ended up being trapped in between the guys involved.

"This went on for about 10 minutes. The guys sitting on the windows were shouting and hollering.

"They left the motorway at the Lucan exit."

A garda spokesperson told they have not received any reports about the early morning incident.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said that it is an offence to organise an unlicensed race on a public road.

Following a similar incident on the same stretch of road in 2016, Conor Faughnan, of the AA, called for the 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, had 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.

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