Gardaí ready for rally revelling

EXTRA gardaí, including the garda helicopter and two dog teams, are being drafted into Killarney for the annual Rally of the Lakes, during the weekend.

Crowds estimated at up to 60,000 are expected for what is the biggest weekend of the year in Kerry, according to gardaí.

Since a near-riot situation developed on the streets of Killarney during the 2000 rally - when gardaí were confronted by a drunken mob of several hundred and pelted with various missiles - there haven’t been any serious incidents.

Gardaí appeal to revellers to behave themselves and Sergeant Ray Walsh, Killarney, said they were prepared for any eventuality.

“This weekend puts a big demand on our resources, both from traffic control and public order viewpoints. We’ve more personnel on duty this year than last year. We want to see people enjoying themselves, but gardaí will be very visible all through the weekend, day and night.” He also said there would be speed checks, and stunt-driving by rally followers in streets and car parks would not be tolerated. There would be traffic delays and he urged drivers to co-operate with gardaí and rally stewards.

All accommodation in Killarney is expected to be booked out and last night people were looking for B&B in other towns and villages in south Kerry.

The rally is expected to generate a spending bonanza of over €25m.

Killarney Chamber of Commerce president Conor Hennigan said the general view among business people was that the rally was good for Killarney.

The action starts at Killarney Racecourse this evening, where several thousand fans will see former world champion Colin McRae drive his Ford Escort RS. The rally proper starts tomorrow and action during the day will be in the Millstreet, Cullen, Kiskeam and Gneeveguilla areas. On Sunday, the focus will switch to the Killorglin, Beaufort and Ring of Kerry areas.

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