15 deaths on A5 over past four years - MLA

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan.
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan.

The Department of Infrastructure has confirmed that 15 people have died as a result of road collisions on the A5 on the past four years.

The high death toll proves the need for the immediate upgrade of the Derry to Aughnacloy route, one local MLA has said.

West Tyrone SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan, obtained information on the number of serious collisions and fatalities on the A5 from the Department.

He said: “These figures show that over the last four years alone, 15 people have died on what has become the most dangerous road in Ireland.

“Yet, due to a calamity of issues, the people of the West and North West still haven’t seen progress on the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme that will save countless lives.

“The scheme is of vital strategic importance and must proceed immediately. I have sought assurances from the Department that they will issue new Legal Orders to move the scheme as early as possible in 2019. I want to see this road built and will continue lobbying for it. The people here deserve so much better,” he said.

The 85km A5 Western Transport Corridor is one of five key transport corridors identified in the Regional Transportation Strategy for Northern Ireland, with the Irish government also planning to upgrade the same route south of the border on to Dublin.

The long-held cross-border plans involve improving the strategic links between the urban centres of Derry, Strabane, Letterkenny, Omagh and Aughnacloy and improving connections generally to the North West from the Irish capital. Draft Vesting and Direction Orders and an environmental statement for the scheme were published in November 2010, but due to reduced funding availability at the time, the Northern Ireland Executive directed in February 2012 that the works be split into different sections and delivered in phases. Legal challenges have been mounted on various grounds against the project in the years since.

The decision to proceed with the scheme was announced on 28 November 2017. On the same date, the Direction Order was made for the length of the scheme between Newbuildings and Ballygawley together with making the Vesting Order for Phase 1a between Newbuildings and north of Strabane, and work was expected to start early 2018, but a legal challenge to the Department’s Decision was submitted by the Alternative A5 Alliance on in December 2017. The Department decided that it was not in the public interest to continue defending the legal challenge, and at a court hearing on November 15, 2018, the Department invited the court to quash the above mentioned Orders and this took effect from November 16, 2018.

The Department has said: “As a flagship project of the Northern Ireland Executive, a decision on the implementation of the new dual carriageway remains a priority for the Department and it will now carry out the necessary work to enable a fresh decision on the scheme to be taken during 2019.”