Names of 50 people killed on notorious A5 read out at Derry meeting: Call for immediate action

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Derry City and Strabane District Council will write to Executive Ministers to request immediate upgrade work at the A5 road.

At a reconvened Full Council Meeting on Thursday, May 30, independent councillor Jason Barr proposed writing to the Minister for Infrastructure, John O’Dowd, requesting that he sign off on the A5 road upgrade “without further delay”.

Additionally, the council will write to Minister of Finance, Caoimhe Archibald, to “lobby for and release more funding for this vital life-saving project”.

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At Thursday’s meeting, Councillor Barr read aloud the names and ages of more than 50 “mothers, fathers, sons, and cherished family members” who have died on the A5 since 2007, when plans for upgrades to the road were initially announced.

Independent Councillor Jason Barr.Independent Councillor Jason Barr.
Independent Councillor Jason Barr.

“Since 1994, almost 90 people have lost their lives on this road,” Councillor Barr said. “Who’s next? It could be me, you, or anyone. Enough is enough, and it’s time to deliver the A5.”

Sinn Féin councillor Fergal Leonard said hearing the names of victims “brings home the impact there has been due to the treacherous nature of this road”.

He added: “The need for the upgrade has been discussed in this chamber many times and it’s required to save lives, prevent serious injury, improve connectivity, and business opportunities.

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“I was part of the Northwest Regional Development Group. We met with Mr O’Dowd last week and left no doubt that the upgrade is required as soon as practically possible.”

People Before Profit councillor Shaun Harkin said there has been a “decades-long demand” to upgrade the A5.

“It’s frustrating it still hasn’t happened,” he said.

“I would like to see the upgrade happening at the same time as a mass-spend on our rail network, but the we are so far behind with the A5 that we’re still discussing it many years on.”

SDLP councillor Brian Tierney also attended the Northwest Regional Development Group meeting.

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He said the Department for Infrastructure had recently received a public inquiry report on the road, which Mr O’Dowd was going over “line by line to make sure they get everything right”.

“We all know the A5 is an incredibly dangerous road,” Councillor Tierney added. “We need it upgraded for a number of reasons – connectivity, business, tourism – but it will also save lives and that’s the most important part.”

DUP Alderman Keith Kerrigan said his party was in support of upgrades, but personally abstained from voting on the motion.

He said that, while there were benefits to upgrades, there were “a lot of people that would really need to review their own driving”.

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“There are occasions were the dangers are the drivers,” Alderman Kerrigan added. “So a lot of it is on the individual drivers”.

Councillor Barr described Alderman Kerrigan’s comments as “baffling”.

“Ninety families are affected in the last 30 years,” he concluded. “And comments like that do affect those families badly.

“Almost 90 deaths is not the cause of dangerous driving, it’s simply the cause of a road that’s not fit for purpose.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter.