Over 400 people joined together in a protest walk in Buncrana to call for long-awaited road safety measures on the “death trap” Aghilly road.
Almost two million euro is needed to install a footpath and lighting along the notorious route and residents state this must be made a priority “before someone is killed.”
After waiting over a decade for the measures to be put in place, a steering committee was recently set up to pursue the issue. Following a number of public meetings, the protest walk took place from the Cassie road in Buncrana, along the Aghilly road to the ‘crossroads.’
Despite the cold weather, there was a huge turnout, with people of all ages taking part in a bid to find a solution for the road deemed the “worst in Inishowen.”
At one point, a lorry was driven alongside the peaceful protestors, with very little space for both - highlighting just how unsafe the route is for pedestrians and vehicles alike and the need for an adequate footpath.
Buncrana Town Council previously had plans to widen the road and provide pedestrian footpaths and lights. They then issued Compulsory Purchase Orders to get the project off the ground but it never came to pass.
When Buncrana Town Council was abolished in 2014, responsibility for the road passed to Donegal County Council, who state they are continuing to pursue the issue. Around 1.6 million euro is needed for the works and residents say they have waited long enough.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ at the protest, Majella McLaughlin, who lives in ‘The Meadows’ estate said her children can’t walk to school less than a mile away and have to take the bus.
Majella said many of the local children want to ride their bikes to their friends’ houses in other estates but can’t do so as it’s too dangerous.
She added: “It’s amazing no-one has been killed before now.”
Michelle Doherty has lived in Allendale for 13 years and said residents have been calling for the safety measures “since day one.”
She added that each homeowner in every estate paid development charges when they bought their property and asked: “Where did the money go?”
She said: “I paid for something that I didn’t get. So, fix the road or give me my money back.”
Aghilly Road Committee member Lorraine McBride said they were “delighted” with the turnout and said it highlighted the strength of feeling among residents.
Lorraine added that a recent announcement that a Manager’s Order had been prepared on the road and some works will take place from next month “did not go far enough.”
The Manager’s Order is to be forwarded to the County Manager for his approval, following which ‘Notices to Enter’ will be issued to landowners. The works will include the removal of some ditches, fences and a hard shoulder from the back of Lisowen Court to meet the existing footpath at The Hawthorns, as well as some additional lights. Lorraine said no members of the steering committee had agreed to the new proposals and are making enquiries to see if the new development will have any implications on the current plans and CPO for the road. She added their “fear” is that the ‘touch up job” on the road would become a permanent solution.
Addressing those in attendance, committee chairperson Johnny Lynch thanked everyone for their support, as wella s the businesses who supplied the hi-viz vests and said they would continue to fight for funding.
He said: “This is not going away and we are not going away. We want a footpath, we want lights and we want the road improved so that we can walk and cycle safely with our children.”
The committee is now preparing a presentation for the Inishowen Municipal District meeting on February 9th and a public meeting will be held before then. You can keep up to date on the facebook page ‘Aghilly Road DeathTrap.’