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Anger and concern at boy racers’ reckless stunts

September 7, 2010


By Brónagh Murphy

Residents in the border village of Killean claim they are being kept ‘under siege’ by the antics of boy racers who are converging in the area to carry out dangerous stunts and driving manoeuvres for the entertainment of dozens of on-lookers.

The drivers are using the former Customs Post on the old Newry to Dundalk Road at Carrickarnon as a meeting place, effectively closing off the public road and preventing local traffic from passing.

A spokesperson for the Killean Community Safety Group said, apart from the obvious danger involved, the noise level of screeching tyres has become unbearable for residents and is having a detrimental effect on nearby businesses.

Already a number of locals have also been involved in accidents with some of the racers, the spokesperson added.

The Group claims the meeting has become ‘a fatality waiting to happen’ and has appealed for assistance from the community and public representatives to help bring this activity to an end.

Reckless

The Thursday night event has been ongoing for some time but recently is attracting ever-increasing numbers of participants and on-lookers as a result of followers being encouraged to attend through the social networking site Facebook.

Between the hours of 10.00pm and 2.00am, the drivers converge at the site. For hours they will perform reckless manoeuvers and ‘wheel-screeching’ doughnuts for their entertainment and that of their audience.

The event has turned into ‘a social menace’ and is causing untold misery to the lives of people living nearby, the Safety Group says.

In an attempt to publicly highlight the problem, the Killean Community Safety Group issued a statement outlining the activities and calling on those involved to stop.

“For the past two years, every Thursday night between 10pm and 2am, residents and businesses along the stretch of the old Dublin Road which borders Killean have been forced to endure a curfew enforced by a group of reckless drivers who spend hours on end ‘performing’ wheel-screeching, engine-screaming doughnuts along the main road, to entertain themselves and an ever-increasing body of on-lookers,” the Group’s statement read.

“These ‘cruising’ activities have mushroomed from small beginnings into a major organised anti-social event, with websites dedicated to arranging the meetings and displaying videos and photographs of the night’s activities.  Anyone who is unfortunate enough to unwittingly drive into one of these meetings will be intimidated to either stop and wait to be allowed to pass, or to turn back and find an alternative route to their destination.”

The screams of the engines and screeches of the tyres can be heard several miles away and those who live close to the road are suffering huge levels of noise-induced stress, especially the elderly or those with young children, as sleep is almost impossible during the ‘cruising’.

collisions

The statement continued: “On an even more serious note, two locals have been badly injured in collisions with these cars, and it is only a matter of time before someone suffers a fatality at their hands.  If there were to be a serious incident in the locality requiring the emergency services on a Thursday night, they would have a serious problem getting through, and this is another fatality just waiting to happen.”

Influence

“Killean Community Safety Group, local residents and business owners are appealing to anyone with influence over these ‘cruise’ meetings to stop abusing our area and to think about the stress and danger you are bringing to our community.  We are also appealing to the parents of those who are openly attending these meetings.  Understand that these are not benign social gatherings – your child is either directly or indirectly contributing to an organised, threatening and dangerous anti-social mob.

“We would welcome assistance from all community, political and legal bodies to assist us in bringing an end to this social menace. It has already gone on too long, and we cannot allow mob rule to continue making the lives of local people a misery on a weekly basis.”

The Safety Group spokesperson says the PSNI and the Gardaí have been informed but to date no active measures have been taken against those responsible.

Detrimental

The activity is also having a detrimental effect on local businesses, particularly the nearby Carrickdale Hotel, which has, on occasions, been forced to compensate guests whose stays have been ruined by the antics of the boy racers.

Michelle Barrett is the General Manager of the Carrickdale.  She says the event is giving the area a bad name and is upsetting tourists staying in the hotel.

“It’s very dangerous and someone is going to be killed.  It’s very scary for visitors, especially those with young children, as they don’t know what is going on.  We had one family staying with us last week and, while they loved the hotel, they said they’ll never stay here on a Thursday night again,” Ms Barrett said.

Ms Barrett also pointed out the dangers posed to staff and users of the hotel’s leisure centre who travel on the road.

“It’s very dangerous for our staff who have to go home along that road at night and also for people leaving the hotel and leisure centre,” she added.

Councillors call for end to joyriding

Sinn Féin councillor Packie McDonald has spoken out about the persistent joyriding which is occurring weekly at the Carrickarnon border.

Local residents have reported that when the joyriding is at its worst up to 100 vehicles may be congregated along the roadside.  This staggering figure has prompted Councillor McDonald to appeal to those involved to stop their actions.

“This unbelievable level of joyriding has to stop before somebody is killed or seriously injured,” he said.

“I have been speaking to local residents who are extremely worried about what will happen if the joy riding does not stop.  Killean Community Safety Group have been receiving reports from concerned residents and parents of this dangerous activity for weeks and weeks so we have decided to take some action now.

“Our main priority is the safety of other road users and also of those who are participating in the joyriding.  Most of those involved are young men in their teens and early 20s and most of the vehicles leave a lot to be desired.  I know that it is in the nature of young people to want to try new and exciting things but this joyriding has gone too far, it is too dangerous now and I am appealing for young people not to be involved in it.”

The Slieve Gullion councillor also called on parents to make themselves aware of what their children are doing, particularly if they are out of the house late at night.

Also actively working on the issue is Sinn Fein Louth County councillor Jim Loughran who added: “Sinn Féin has decided to take a cross-border response to this joyriding as this sort of activity is not confined to one side of the border.  For this reason I think any response from the Gardai or the PSNI must also be linked up.

“At the end of the day the safety of people using the road is the most important thing but we must also take into consideration the effect that this joyriding is having on businesses in the area and the impression that it leaves on those visiting this area.

“It is essential that action is taken as soon as possible to curtail this dangerous activity.”



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