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01 Oct 2022

Electric Picnic policing praised as Laois prepares for the Ploughing

Garda advice on Electric Picnic 2019

Laois Gardaí on duty at Electric Picnic 2022. Pic: Alf Harvey

There was widespread praise for gardai and authorities involved in organising the Electric Picnic at a recent policing meeting. 

Speaking at the Joint Policing Meeting,  Cllr Conor Bergin commended Gardai on policing the event and its traffic.  

“I think the gardai in Laois Offaly could give courses in event management to the rest of the country because we have two of the largest outdoor events in the country coming here every year,” he told the meeting.   

He said: “The Electric Picnic was extremely well run and there was a high garda presence there. With the exception of one serious incident there wasn’t too many serious incidents at the festival this year,” he remarked. 

Chief Superintendent John Scanalan said: “ We have had Electric Picnic. it went well to say the least for it. We had one very serious assault in it. It is being followed up and being investigated. A number of drug offences. A number of initiatives around drugs at the Picnic.  80,000 people were there.” 

He said such events were positive for Laois. “These are all very good things for Co Laois. It shows Laois is a place that can host… the Picnic is now the largest outdoor concert in the State. The  Ploughing will be the largest outdoor agricultural event, not just in the State but in Europe. Laois hosts these events well.” 

“It does well at doing it and the forbearance of small communities about the imposition of some of  these events on them is why it is so  successful here. Particularly Stradbally, Ratheniska, they have been very tolerant of what has gone on. It stretches out when it comes to the ploughing. It fills the hotels, it’s a huge contribution to the economic life of Laois and I am sure it has an impact on local businesses,” said Chief Supt Scanlan. 

“If I reflect on the ten years I am here, the first year we had the Picnic here there was 25,000 in attendance. On the Thursday night there was almost 20,000 people attending so it is a Thursday to Monday event now. So we have that issue of traffic,” he told the Joint Policing Committee meeting. 

Cllr James Kelly thanked the Chief Superintendent for the policing of the Electric Picnic festival. “We had the various festivals and now we have the ploughing as well for Laois. 

It is great for the county of Laois and the county council as well I know are working hand in hand with you I know, and all the organisations,” he remarked. 

“It has been great for the economy because I am a member of the destination Laois Committee and this is all good news. I know there was a serious incident but I know you dealt with those very well, “  Cllr Kelly added. 

Welcoming the Chief Superintendents crime report. Cllr Paddy Bracken said “I know the figures have moved a little bit but that’s to be expected. We are progressing in terms of garda numbers and Gardai on the street,“ he said. Cllr Bracken said the  CCTV cameras were up and running in Mountmelick.  

 Cllr John King also  complimented the gardai on the Electric Picnic. “Because to think of the huge numbers of people. The gardai, the civil and all different groups that were involved. I thought the cleanliness of the place in Stradbally was wonderful.” 

He said: “For an event of its size I thought it  was very well handled and a great asset to Laois.” 

“Any county in Ireland would be proud to have two events of this size,” added Cllr King.  

”I just want to compliment the chief on an excellent report and compliment the guards and all the staff on the way they moved the traffic,” said Cllr Ben Brennan. 

Cllr PJ Kelly also complimented the gardai on Electric Picnic. He said some of the minor roads were fenced in and he suggested using GAA clubs to help with parking. “Other than that I think the gardai done a great job.” he said. 

Chief Supt Scanlan confirmed the Bay Road in Mountmellick is going to be the primary route for ploughing traffic from Tullamore. “That’s decided. If there is pressure on that at critical  times there may be small relief through the town,” he said. 

“If we have the numbers that we had previously you have 120,000 people on the middle day coming to the ploughing. Those numbers don’t occur anywhere else at any other event in the country ever,” he pointed out.  

In response to Cllr PJ Kelly, Chief Supt Scanlan said  “I do take on board the issues of the GAA being used. I have spoken with the County Secretary about that, would they be up for it?”  

He pointed out that: “The people attending ploughing and the people attending Picnic are kind of a different diaspora of our society, need I say more. I don’t think so.” 

He said the Picnic traffic plan  “works well but we have to acknowledge the volume is large. If you come out of the picnic site and drive one quarter mile the other way you are landing in the ploughing site.” 

“I had people on the Friday questioning me on a traffic delay on the M50 in Dublin. There is only so far I can go,” he told the meeting, adding that as it turned out  there was a five car pile up unrelated to the event. 

He said “There is a constant daily meeting at these events reviewing what has gone well what has gone right and what has not gone so well.”

Chief Supt Scanlan said preparation begins early as: ”We are talking to them already about the car parking profile of Electic Picnic.”  

“I had a fear that he was going to look for more numbers but he hasn’t, he is going to leave it as it was. That means that the dynamics of this year will probably be the same as the dynamics of next year,” added Chief Supt Scanlan.  

Cllr Thomasina Connell commended the community policing gardai and Portlaoise said they are really making people feel safer.  

Meanwhile, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald commended Martley’s bus hire for the service they provided to the Electric Picnic. “All I got was positive feedback,” she said.  

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