No safety checks at rally crash site

The site where two people were killed in a rally accident on Sunday was not included in safety checks as officials believed it did not pose any danger.

Motorsport Ireland chief executive Alex Sinclair told the Irish Examiner the fatal spot on the Cavan Rally Stage had not been assessed for potential spectator or driver concerns when the area was tested within the last month.

Mr Sinclair said any route must undergo safety checks, considered among the most stringent in Europe, before it receives a permit to hold an upcoming race.

These include an initial safety plan by local organisers which must be ratified by Motorsport Ireland, test runs with independent officials, and assurances that recommended changes have been made.

However, Mr Sinclair said the spot where pregnant mother of one Caroline Cleary, 29, and photographer Joe Lane, 51, lost their lives after a Ford Escort smashed through a garden fence was not subject to checks.

“That particular stretch of road was not included in the report,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been included because it was a straight part of the road.”

The head of Ireland’s rally car sector said the issues will be discussed at a Motorsport Ireland meeting today, while the group’s own investigation into the incident will follow garda inquiries.

Work-mates of Ms Cleary — who moved from Wexford to Enniskeane to be with boyfriend and fellow rally enthusiast Sean Hayde — said the 14-weeks pregnant woman was a bubbly person to be around.

“It is very sad. She was only with us for five or six weeks,” said Peter Moloney, manager of Niall’s restaurant at the Riverview Shopping Centre in Bandon.

“We all got on well with her. It is a shock for us all. She will be sadly missed.”

Condolences were also offered from her hometown of Tagoat, Co Wexford.

John Naylor, Wexford Rally Club chairman, said Ms Cleary — who had two sisters and two brothers — described what happened as “a tragic, tragic accident”.

Friends of Mr Lane paid tribute to the professionalism and friendly nature of the married father-of-two from Kilgoggin, Co Galway.

“When we got there on Sunday, Joe was talking about this great jump near the start of the stage where he could get great photos which he loved doing,” said friend Paul McClay.

Mr Lane will be laid to rest tomorrow during 12pm mass at The Church of the Annunciation, Clarinbridge, Galway.

Of the seven people injured in the crash, three remain in hospital.

Two were still being treated at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, yesterday, while a third has been transferred to Beaumont Hospital for specialist care.


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