The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin was “a total success” from a Garda Síochána point of view, according to Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Paul Wallace.
Almost 100,000 people attended the five-day event which was viewed by an estimated 500 million worldwide.
Speaking to the Inish Times, Sergeant Wallace described the policing operation as “brilliant, a total success.”
He said: “The only reason it was a success was that the community, the people of Inishowen bought into what An Garda Síochána asked them to do.
“We issued our advice two weeks before the Irish Open and we focussed it on the people particularly in Ballyliffin and the surrounding area.
"We talked to the farmers about saving turf or cutting hay or silage, those day-to-day, quality of life issues, which were very important to us.
“We also talked to cycling clubs. We got different feedback from people, including home carers who could have been impacted by the Open and we were able to take steps to help them out.
“Somebody said there wasn’t a tractor seen on the roads of Inishowen. Now that might a slight exaggeration but definitely, the people were very, very good to us. We have to thank everybody.
“We have to thank people in the general Ballyliffin, Clonmany into Carndonagh area as well. A good news story never gets much traction but, at the end of the day, you had 100.000 people and not a problem.
“We probably had 5,000 cars, which were the responsibility of the car-parking people. They had to open the extra contingency car parks on Sunday. There was capacity for 7,000 cars in total.
“The infrastructure, the layout and the planning that was put into place by the European Tour and the car-parking people was amazing.
“From a Garda point of view it was multi-agency operation. We could not have done it on our own, without the assistance of Donegal County Council, especially Seamus Hopkins (Senior Executive Engineer, Roads and Transportation Manager Inishowen Municipal District).
“They got the roads into order. They were our back up for coning.
“We had no incidents of note. We had no reports of thefts, break-ins to cars, all of that public order, even though there was alcohol for sale. Nothing.
“It was lovely to see families out with children. We had issued advice to parents, just to be mindful of the fact schools were out and children would be cycling or walking on the road or on site in Ballyliffin.
“We hadn’t one child getting lost. And they are the sorts of things that could have happened because it is a big expansive area and you could have had a toddler walking off.
“An Garda Síochána had a big policing presence. We had 80 plus out on the roads, covering the whole of the Inishowen peninsula. We had two corridors, eastern and western. We asked people not to use Sat Navs, so that if we have a problem, we could control it very quickly.
“Sadly, we had a road tragedy on Wednesday evening and our plan just kicked in and people were not inconvenienced too much. We got the road open again at 8.30 in the morning.
“The weather was kind to us. It was fabulous. It showcased Inishowen. It showcased Donegal. It showcased Ireland. We were delighted to be part of it.
“Superintendent Eugene McGovern and Superintendent Kevin English, who previously served in Buncrana, put the policing plan in place, assisted by Sergeant Charlene Anderson here in Buncrana and various others.
“It all worked and it worked well and we are happy and we had no issues with our people. We had no injuries to any of our people. We put out 120 people on two shifts every day. People might say, ’That’s overkill’ but that’s what is needed to do the job properly. And if you have that resource, that’s fine.
“The Irish Open was a great success. There were no issues in the villages at night. Nothing. Everyone was very good-humoured.
“There were great facilities in Ballyliffin. Everyone was well looked after. It was an unbelievable event. The biggest problem we had was keeping our people hydrated and from getting sunburned, from a health and safety point of view. Normally, Garda are out in all types of weather, 365 days of the year. Last week, it was like being in Spain.”
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