A5 described as ‘killer’ and ‘Ireland’s most dangerous road’ as TDs call for funding and completion

The A5 was described as ‘a killer’ and ‘Ireland’s most dangerous road’ as TDs backed a motion in the Dáil calling on the Irish Government to provide 50 per cent of the cost of its upgrade.
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The motion – tabled by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy – received cross-partisan support.

Members of the Enough is Enough campaign – a group of families who have lost loved ones on the road – were present in the public gallery.

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Deputy Carthy described the A5 as ‘Ireland's most dangerous road’.

A narrow stretch of the A5 between Derry and StrabaneA narrow stretch of the A5 between Derry and Strabane
A narrow stretch of the A5 between Derry and Strabane

His party colleague Pearse Doherty said: "The most powerful argument is that this road is a killer. It does not discriminate between young or old, rich or poor, North or South, nationalists or unionists. It is simply a killer.

"Too many families have lost their lives on this road. We are only talking about the most extreme cases here. We also heard that every fourth day, on average, a serious accident is reported to the PSNI on this road. These are not small hits or tips but serious accidents that are reported.”

Also speaking to the motion was Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, who said: “There is an overwhelming desire to have equality of access and infrastructure for our people with the rest of the island. When we look at the map we can see, rightly so, motorways and train links connecting communities across the island.”

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He added: “Our people are united in Donegal, Tyrone, Derry, Fermanagh, Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan. We are united with one voice to say that we want the same access, the same citizenship and the same respect as everybody else in every community on this island.”

Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said: “The A5 is an extremely dangerous road that runs through Tyrone and Derry. It is used by many of my constituents in Donegal because it forms part of the main road link from Dublin to Donegal.

"I have used the road many times on my way to Dublin from various parts of Donegal, so I know exactly how unsafe it is. At least 47 people have died along this 86 km stretch of road since a plan to upgrade the entire route to a dual carriageway was approved by the Assembly at Stormont in 2007. That is shocking and it is clear that something needs to be quickly done to address the matter.”

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers, told the Dáil the Government remained committed to the A5 as a key strategic priority.

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“The National Development Plan (NDP) is clear that the A5 project is a strategic investment priority for a more connected island and notes that the Government will work with the Northern Irish Executive to pursue opportunities in public investment, planning and delivery.

"We all agree on the importance of the A5 project and we can all agree on the importance of ensuring much better access to the north-west region,” he stated.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith recalled being briefed on the road by representatives from Derry and Donegal a decade ago.

"The one thing that struck me was that we often do not comprehend the huge population that is served by that artery. It is a main artery,” he said.

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Dublin West Sinn Féin TD Paul Donnelly described the A5 as the ‘most dangerous road’ he had ever been on.

"My journey on the A5 started many years ago when I made my first visit to Derry for the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign. In those days, we did not stay in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation.

"The people of Derry opened their homes to us to enable us to stay up and support them in their fight for justice. That trip led me to meeting friends who I still visit every year, sometimes several times a year, using the A5, starting at Aughnacloy, passing through Omagh and Strabane, and going on to Derry. It is one of the most dangerous roads I have ever driven on. We are always very conscious of that when we drive on it,” he said.

Gino Kenny, People Before Profit-Solidarity TD for Dublin Mid-West, said: “The cross-border dimension of the A5 highlights that problems of transport cannot be addressed within one part of this island.

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"Whether it is roads or rail, we will either have all-island solutions or no solutions at all. Both North and South, there is an east-west divide. Belfast sucks investment at the expense of Derry and Fermanagh. Meanwhile, the growth of Dublin deprives Donegal and Sligo of a fair shot at fixing their problems.

"We need a transport system which leaves no county or region behind. The A5 has to be a key part of this, as does a decent rail service. If one took a map from 1920, one would see an extensive network of rail services that serviced that part of the island but now there is absolute desolation in relation to railway services,” said Deputy Kenny.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said: “I also believe that the A5 is a monument to partition and the dysfunction that partition wreaks on spatial planning and development.

"The A5 shows, in black and white, in material facts, that partition significantly disadvantages pretty much all aspects of life, whether it is the lopsided infrastructure that affects the Border area, the lack of development that has resulted from the lack of infrastructure or the lower incomes that are experienced.”

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Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said: “The A5 route linking North and South is a critical piece of infrastructure and a major route for people living and working in the Border counties and across the north west. The A5 road from Aughnacloy to Derry is in urgent need of upgrades to improve safety and reduce fatalities.”