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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | June Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 20 June 1903 - Page 2


An adjourned meeting of the Kildare Council was held on Saturday, Mr. S. J. Brown, J.P., Chairman, presiding; the other members present were:- Messrs. A. More-O’Farrell, D.L.; James Sunderland, L. Malone, J. Kelly, Charles Bergin, John S. O’Grady, John Healy, John Quinn, P. J. Doyle, J.P.; Owen Cogan, J.P.

The principal business before the meeting was the consideration of the arrangements to be made as regards the Motor Race on the 2nd July. There were three items on the agenda paper dealing with the Race, sa[sic] follows:- (1) To take such steps as may be considered necessary in connection with the Automobile Race for the public safety. (2) To make an order for the regulation of the traffic to and from the Automobile Race course. (3) To request the Automobile Club to lodge such a sum of money as may be agreed upon to defray expenses of extra police, etc.

The Secretary having stated that Mr. Orde, Secretary to the Automobile Club, was in attendance,
Mr. O’Grady: Would it not be well to ascertain the feelings of the Automobile Club, if Mr. Orde is here, as regards the cost of the extra police. I think we would not be justified in making any move unless the cost of the extra police would come from some source besides out of the ratepayers pockets.

The Chairman, addressing Mr. Orde, made him acquainted with the points which had arisen. One was the alteration of the course, which had received authorisation. The second was the closing of the cross-roads. This, of course, was a serious matter, and it was necessary for the Council to impose on the Automobile Club the duty of closing up the roads leading to the roads on which the race will be run. Mr. Orde: Quite right. The Chairman: I don’t know quite how many roads there are to be closed. Mr. Orde: About 270. As a matter of fact I have made a contract for closing every single one. The Chairman: I think that statement of Mr. Orde, so far as the point is concerned, is quite satisfactory. The next point is the question of extra police. In this county alone 2,000 police will be required for this purpose.

County Inspector Crane attended, and was asked by Mr. O’Grady whether he had received any reply to the wire he sent the Inspector General, as suggested by the meeting on the previous Monday. He stated that it was not quite clear on whom the expense would fall. He understood unofficially that the Treasury would be asked to defray the expense. Mr. Orde: I know that the most perfect arrangements will be made for the public safety.

The Chairman: There will be a considerable number of police required, and the cost will come to a considerable amount of money. The cost per head will, I dare say, come to 30s or 40s. Mr. Crane: It may be as much as that. The Chairman said that there ought to be a clear understanding that the County Council should bear no part of the cost of the extra police. Mr. Crane C.I.: Under ordinary circumstances of course the county might be held responsible. The Chairman: These are, of course, extraordinary circumstances. Before the Council issued the order authorising the race they should have some satisfactory guarantee that no portion of the cost of the extra police comes upon this county. Some communication has been made, and we understand the Government favour the idea. Nothing has been decided as yet, but perhaps Mr. Orde may enlighten us on the point. Mr. Orde said the question was one to be considered very seriously. The whole question was a very large one. Mr. O’Grady: Have we any guarantee as to what position we would be in, and how to get out of it, if the Government refuses to pay for the extra police? Mr. Kelly asked who paid for the police at Punchestown. Mr. Healy: It is not an analagous[sic] case. The Chairman said that the Metropolitan police were brought down at the expense of the Kildare Hunt Club Committee. Mr. O’Grady said there was no comparison between Punchestown and the motor race.

The regulations and the Acts of Parliament with reference to the bringing in of extra police to a county were read by the Chairman, who asked whether there was any means of assuring them by telegram to any department or person that the county would not have to bear the cost of the extra police.

Mr. O’Grady: What became of the telegram sent the other day? Mr. Crane said that there was a reply that the matter was before the Government. Mr. Healy: Someone will have to pay, and the sooner we find out the better. Mr. O’Grady: I understood that the Automobile Club was supported by millionaires. We were led to believe from the beginning that all expenses would be paid. Mr. L. Malone: I do not see why they should not pay the cost of the extra police. Mr. Healy: Who is responsible for the public safety that day? Mr. Healy: I think the Government is. Mr. Doyle: That was raised at last meeting, and it was the opinion of the meeting that the Automobile Club were responsible. Mr. Bergin: I think the Automobile Club should be responsible. Mr. Malone: I think so. The Chairman said that he personally had no doubt that there was no intention of any charge being made on the county in respect of the extra police. Would Mr. Orde give them a guarantee, or could they make it an express condition, that no charge would be made on the county before they issued this order?

Mr. O’Grady said there was no liability on the county. The Chairman: It is hard to say. Mr. O’Grady: I do not think there is. Don’t we give them over the roads.

Mr. More O’Ferrall suggested that all liability might be obviated if they passed a resolution calling upon the Government to take such steps as may be necessary for the public safety.

The Chairman: That is a good suggestion, and it would also fit in that as regards the traffic we should give authority to the Inspector General to take such steps as he may consider necessary. Continuing, he said there was no use in the Council attempting to make regulations as regards the traffic to and from the course, because they had no idea of what they had to meet, and it would remain with some person in authority to make these regulations immediately before the race. The Secretary suggested that the order authorising the race to be held be issued subject to a guarantee being given that no expense fall upon the ratepayers. The Chairman pointed out that the guarantee should be given first. Mr. O’Grady: It would be a fatal mistake to issue the order without the guarantee first. Mr. Orde said that a question was to be asked in Parliament on the subject, and as soon as the London newspapers came they could see what occurred. The Chairman said that the members would see the Parliamentary news in the papers that morning. Several members said they did not see any report of a question being asked in the House of Commons relative to the question. Mr. Bergin did not see why the Automobile Club should not lodge a sufficient sum, as required by the Act. The Chairman said that it must be a Government charge. Mr. Orde said he did not think that the Club would be justified in giving a guarantee.

Mr. O’Ferrall said in the event of a telegraphic communication of a satisfactory nature being had with the Inspector General they could authorise their Chairman to seal the order. The Chairman said this could not be done unless at a meeting. Mr. Cogan said he found, when he asked dozens of ratepayers, that they would like to see the race, but they do not wish to pay the cost of the extra police.

The County Surveyor stated that the following Thursday would be the last day for the service of the notices.

The Secretary said there was nothing to prevent the Automobile Club issuing their notices now.
The Chairman said that the notices would be informal if posted before the order was issued. He suggested that the order be issued, with a declaration that under no circumstances would the County Council be responsible for the cost of the extra police. Mr. O’Grady: Does the sealing of the order make us responsible? The Chairman said he did not know, and read the Section of the Act, which provided that the cost of the race should be defrayed by the applicants (the Automobile Club).

After a long discussion as to the legal powers and obligations of the Council with regard to the police, the County Inspector was asked to wire to the Inspector General for further information, and a reply was received stating that the Inspector General had nothing to add to his wire of the 8th inst. “The matter is still under consideration, and I regret I can give you no further information on the subject for the present” (laughter).

Mr. Orde having read the wire, a further discussion took place, at the end of which a satisfactory understanding was come to between Mr. Orde and the Council, the result of which was that the order was sealed and issued.