Shane Ross warned about dangers of Derry road hours before Donegal women lost their lives

Garda look at one of the cars involved at the scene near Aclint Bridge in Ardee, Co Louth, after three women were killed and two men seriously injured in a road accident involving three cars.
Garda look at one of the cars involved at the scene near Aclint Bridge in Ardee, Co Louth, after three women were killed and two men seriously injured in a road accident involving three cars.

Just hours before three Donegal women were killed on the main Derry to Dublin road a countyman warned the Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross that the frightening rate of accidents on the very stretch on which they lost their lives needed to be addressed.

Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher, originally from Termon in Donegal, warned the Minister how a report on safety aspects of the N2 between Clontibret and Ardee made “stark and sober reading”.

He issued the warning amid re-echoing calls on the Dublin government to fulfil its financial commitment to the A5 motorway north of the border and to properly invest in the Derry road south of the border.

Less than 24 hours after Senator Gallagher raised the matter from the floor of the Seanad on Thursday, July 20, three Bruckless women Margaret McGonigle, Mairead Mundy and Rachel Battles had lost their lives in a horrific accident at Aclint Bridge on the very 47 kilometre section of road he had been warning about.

Senator Gallagher had quoted at length from a consultancy report recently commissioned by Monaghan County Council, which, he said, pointed to the road not being fit for purpose.

“The stretch of road deals with approximately 10,000 vehicles per day, 10 per cent of which are heavy goods vehicles,” the North West-born senator had told Minister Ross.

“The road incorporates more than 30 junctions, more than 40 accesses and more than 75 field gates.

“This is more than 150 locations at which drivers can turn onto or off the roadway. A total of 42 collisions took place over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2016 in which fatalities and injuries occurred.

“There were 11 fatal accidents on the stretch of roadway during this period. There were also two serious accidents and 29 minor injury accidents. Fatal collisions accounted for 26 per cent of all injuries sustained on this stretch of roadway.

“The percentage of head-on collisions was high, representing 64 per cent of all fatal collisions.

“There was one collision per kilometre on the stretch of roadway between January 2008 and May 2016, which is quite frightening.

“The report shows clearly this road is not fit for purpose. It was neither designed nor built for the traffic that now travels on it and these accidents are, unfortunately, proof of this,” he said.

Despite Senator Gallagher’s appeals Mr. Ross indicated there were no plans in place to improve the road.

“There are no proposals to upgrade the N2 from Clontibret, County Monaghan, to Ardee, County Louth, to motorway status to connect with the M1 Dublin to Belfast route,” he said.

Mr. Ross indicated there simply wasn’t enough money to go around to realise such projects.

He said: “While there is a strong case for additional funding for the transport sector, there are a multitude of possible national, regional and local projects throughout the country, the cost of which far exceed available funding.

“Unfortunately, this means that only a limited number can be considered. The final decisions on allocations are, however, matters for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and Government as a whole.”

Earlier, Fianna Fáil Senator Catherine Ardagh had urged the Minister to fulfil the government’s commitment to the A5.

“We hope that a focus is placed on key Stormont House and Fresh Start measures such as the A5 motorway to Derry, which will be a key piece of infrastructure for the north west, and the Narrow Water bridge, which should be completed.

“The Irish Government should uphold its commitment to those measures,” she said.