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Gardai failing to halt illegal races in rural hideaways

RAVES are regularly taking place on the outskirts of the capital, it has emerged.

The illegal parties in remote rural and wooded areas in Wicklow have become commonplace despite efforts by gardai to stop them.

The raves have been held in areas such as Devil's Glen and Mahermore Beach since 2001 and there have been several already this summer according to one organiser, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Gardai are working with locals to prevent these raves but are "playing catch-up" according to Rathnew councillor John Snell.

"What you're trying to deal with now is social media. Word spreads so quickly that in more cases than not the event is over before the gardai get a handle on them."

He described the nature of the parties as "cloak and dagger kind of stuff".

"There aren't any posters for these events. Unless you're mixing in these circles, the normal public are not aware until some rural cottages hear the music and alert gardai."

One of Cllr Snell's key concerns was the danger of drug-taking in such remote areas. "There's no medical expertise at these raves. It's a recipe for disaster. It's only a matter of time before life is lost."

Rathdrum Councillor O'Shaughnessy wants tougher action against ravers.

"The Government needs to bring in stricter sanctions, maybe zero tolerance measures like high fines or custodial sentences," he said.

A rave organiser from the Roundhill area defended the events saying that licensing laws "are prehistoric".

"They go back to the ballroom days. Clubs here have to close at 2.30 or 3am whereas in Europe they are open until 6am. We are forced to take it into our own hands."

He says ravers resent the bad name the Phoenix Park debacle has given them.

"There has never been any trouble at these parties. The record speaks for itself, there have never been any assaults."