‘IT’S DESTROYED OUR LIFE’

Vincent Gallagher pictured with his grandson, Jason Ryan, and grand-daughter Ella O'Callaghan. (2106SL28)

Vincent Gallagher pictured with his grandson, Jason Ryan, and grand-daughter Ella O'Callaghan. (2106SL28)

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A Dungiven pensioner claims his family’s life has been “destroyed” by more than four decades of non-stop heavy traffic outside his house. 

Vincent Gallagher has lived on Lower Main Street in the congested town for the last 44 years. He claims the heavy fumes from the more than 10,000 vehicles that pass his house each day are responsible for his family’s medical problems, including a severe bout of pneumonia which left his disabled daughter gravely ill. The 70-year-old said he also fell victim to the killer inflammatory lung disease. He said the only solution to the traffic and health woes in the town is a bypass. 

“There are days when I count the traffic and there are 25 to 27 vehicles a minute; everything from 12-wheeler lorries, vans, tractors; just about anything and it never stops. We’re never without some sort of infection. It’s destroyed our life.” 

Mr. Gallagher said he would love to move, but “sure, who would buy our house? We’re stuck here,” he said. “Whatever summer we do get you can’t even open the windows because of the smell of the fumes and the dirt. It would cut the nose off you, and there are times it feels like there is an earthquake with the roof tiles shaking from the vibrations off the traffic.”

Mr. Gallagher said moves for a bypass started in 1962, and to be waiting half a century later for it is beyond ridiculous and feels let down by politicians.

“They can build roads everywhere else, but ‘to hell with the people of Dungiven, let them die’; that seems to be how it is, and every minister has just passed the buck. It’s like you’re battering your head against a wall,” he said.  

“Where else would you have a main route to Europe where there is this amount of traffic on the main street of a small town?”

He added: “We were told the public inquiry would start in 2011, and now we are being told September 2012 for an inquiry. The minister Danny Kennedy should spend a night in my house to see how bad the traffic is. It’s absolutely desperate.” 

Aidan Farren from the lobby group, Dungiven Bypass Committe welcomed news of a September inquiry, but said it should have happened long before now. 

“A bypass for Dungiven is badly needed because of the traffic and the serious health concerns, especially for those people who live on Lower Main Street. We just hope this inquiry speeds things up now,” he said.  

(See Page 5 for details of the Inquiry)