‘Stop now before there is a tragedy’

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Residents of Castletown, Fatima and Toberona have been plagued by the new scourge of souped up quad bikes which are causing a real threat to the public and motorists alike.

While quad biking was traditionally thought of as a countryside phenomenon, increasingly it is becoming an urban craze, with riders now using residential housing estates in Dundalk as their would-be race tracks.

The quad bike are extremely noisy and capable of speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

When not on the roads around Dundalk, they are out on back fields behind Fatima.

Alarming footage of quad bikers in Dundalk has even been uploaded to Youtube, where bikers can be seen racing around the Back of the Wall, and then into Ard Easmuinn at frightening speeds.

One resident who contacted the paper, but who wished to remain anonymous said: “It’s a big issue out in these areas, the full size quads seem to be coming from Saltown, the rest of the bikes from Oldbridge.

“I’ve had a few near misses with them, racing on the Bellewsbridge and Mill Rd, spend a lot of time too on the lane behind Fatima and then out onto the roads from there by the entrance to Delgan House/Riverwell estate.

“The noise also from these is unreal, we’ve had days here in Fatima where it would be non-stop for 8 - 12 hours,

“Gardaí don’t seem to care about the issue, it’s a waste of time calling them at this stage.”

Due to grey area in the law, quad bikes can be made road legal, though it is illegal for under sixteens to operate them on the road.

The quad bikes are also a huge problem in the Cooley Mountains, where they are totally illegal.

Cooley sheep farmer Matthew McGreehan was elected to chair the Action Group, Stop Mountain Scrambling.

“One man told us of ewes breaking legs because of being deliberately chased by scramblers.”

There is a complete ban on off-road vehicles in the Cooley Mountains,firstly by a county by-law and secondly because it is a Special Area of Conservation under EU law.

A meeting held recently was shown many photographs of deliberate damage to pastures which is now putting Single Farm Payments in danger.

“All this destruction is being done by a handful of irresponsible people, most of it by one gang of less than a dozen people, some of them quite young,” said Mr McGreehan.

“I would appeal to them and to their parents – stop now before there is a tragedy.”


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