Campaigners want end to needless A5 road deaths

time:2023-06-04 14:51:59 source:Al Jazeera

A group campaigning for the delayed A5 upgrade to be completed has said no more lives should be lost on the road.

Siblings Dan and Christine McKane and their aunt Julia McSorley were killed when their minibus collided with a lorry on the road last week.

The fatal crash was the latest on the A5 road, which links the north-west with Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

Niall McKenna, who chairs the Enough Is Enough group, said there was growing support for its campaign.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has said the upgrade is "essential to improve road safety" and officials are doing "all they can within our powers" to.

"Too many lives have been lost and our sincere condolences go out to all those families who have lost a loved one," said a department spokesperson.

A public meeting will be held by the campaign group in Omagh next week ahead of the public inquiry resuming on 15 May.

Mr McKenna said the whole community in County Tyrone was devastated after the tragedy on the A5 Tullyvar Road near Aughnacloy.

He said it had "re-energised and re-emphasised" the need to urgently upgrade the road and said there has been a "massive groundswell of support" for their campaign.

"We are getting contacted by more and more people wanting to get involved," he told the BBC's The North West Today programme.

"They know that this can't keep going on and it has to stop."

The planned upgrade to the A5 was first announced in 2007 but has been beset by funding issues and legal challenges.

The work, which is estimated to cost about £1.6bn, would connect Londonderry to the Irish border at Aughnacloy and improve access to Dublin.

The flagship scheme featured in the New Decade, New contact deal, which restored power-sharing in Northern Ireland in 2020 after three years of political deadlock.

The scheme would be the single largest road scheme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland.

Mr McKenna said that those living along the road were worried for their own safety and the safety of others.

"There is a fear and anxiety of that road," he said.

"People are terrified to travel out on that main road at certain times of the day when it's very busy.

"They are terrified of their young ones leaving their house in the car and those communities on that road are living with this day in and day out."

He said the project must be completed regardless of the cost or else more people would die.

The Department for Infrastructure said it was committed to carrying out improvements to the existing road.

"In recent years there have been a number of schemes completed to enhance road user safety, including resurfacing and realignment works, enhanced street lighting, road markings and signage as well as improvements for pedestrians," said its spokesperson.

"Officials will continue to work closely with the police to identify any further measures that can be taken to improve safety on the existing A5 road, subject to public expenditure processes."

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