Dungiven Bypass: ‘We’ve heard this story so many times before’

Vincent Gallagher from Main Street in Dungiven with the soot filled water which he has cleaned from his windows.INLV711 451MMCK (file pic)
Vincent Gallagher from Main Street in Dungiven with the soot filled water which he has cleaned from his windows.INLV711 451MMCK (file pic)

A Dungiven man living along the town’s congested Main Street says politicians “must grab the bypass scheme by the scruff of the neck and get on with it”.

Vincent Gallagher was speaking after Transport Minister Michelle McIlveen said this week that the £400 million A6 Derry to Dungiven dualling scheme was to proceed - subject to future funding.

Mr Gallagher said it was a story he had heard too many times before.

“I have listened to this story so many times, and it’s the same old story every time. I hope this is different,” Vincent told the ‘Journal’.

“The town is dreadful with the amount of traffic and fumes. It never stops and it is getting worse all the time.”

Vincent is convinced his own health problems, and those of his daughter, are as a result of fumes from upwards of 15,000 vehicles that drive past his front door every day.

“I have had a chest infection since before Christmas and it’s because of where I am living. I can’t get away from it,” he said. “The politicians have to get on with it this time and give us a bypass. I hope that, after the election in May, whoever is at the helm, will grab it by the scruff of the neck and get it done.”

Speaking in Dungiven at Owenbeg, where she was accompanied by several DUP colleagues including Gregory Campbell and Gary Middleton, Michelle McIlveen said the 4.8km Dungiven bypass was a priority and work was scheduled to start by 2018/19.

“That’s the intention and we are very hopeful of that,” she said.“At this stage we are confident we can proceed on the Dungiven bypass.”

However, the minister was unable to provide a completion date.

When asked about funding, the minister told the ‘Journal’: “There’s a commitment through ‘Fresh Start’ from the Executive that this scheme will proceed.

“Obviously, the further end of that scheme will be subject to further budget, but we are confident that we can proceed with the Dungiven bypass.”

John Dallat, MLA for East Derry, said that, as a member of Stormont’s Regional Development committee, the statement should have been made in Stormont “where there is an opportunity to ask serious questions about availability of money and timescale”.

“It is all subject to so many things that I will believe it when I see the first barrow full of soil turned in Dungiven. “

Mr Dallat welcomed the publication of the Inspector’s report and “anything that ultimately leads to what should have been delivered decades ago. “But what they’re doing here is mortgaging future budgets,” he added.

“It’s all a game of Monopoly,” added Mr Dallat.

The public inquiries were held in September 2012 and the Inspectors reported their findings to the Department in March 2013.

Following a thorough examination of the issues raised, the Department has concluded that the scheme should proceed with amendments to reflect the Inspectors’ recommendations.

The minister said officials continued to work with land and homeowners affected.