A councillor in Magilligan has pledged to do all he can to make the roads in the area, where at least 20 people have died in accidents, safer for pedestrians and drivers.
Sinn Fein councillor Cathal McLaughlin, who has been announced as the borough’s next mayor, says he will “re energise the Magilligan Road Safety Campaign as a key priority during his year in office.
“In living memory 20 lives have been lost due to road traffic accidents on a 4.2-mile stretch of road between Bellarena and Benone Corner on the A2 Seacoast Road,” he said.
The campaign for extensive footpath infrastructure in Magilligan dates back to February 2001 and Sinn Féin have been involved from the start, said Colr. McLaughlin.
“It took us four years to achieve the first breakthrough but over the last seven years there has been significant works carried out. In the first year we got a pathway with lighting from SPAR to the Magilligan Field Centre. Next they built a pathway with lights from what was then the Anglers Rest to Benone corner,” he said.
“In year three a path was laid from Seacoast Road past the Gaelic club to the primary school. That was a disaster. They built the path on the road and two cars could not safely pass. Neither was it drained properly and the school children were soaked walking through the flooding. To correct this they attempted to vest the gardens on the road as a cheap quick fix. We argued for a year to get the work done right and eventually this was achieved in year four. The downside is that the campaign lost a year.
“The following year saw a substantial stretch provided between Swans Bridge and Scotchtown Road. After that hazard warning lights were installed at both the primary schools on the main road. But in the last year financial year which ended last month very little was done except some surface traffic calming measures on Point Road. I wish we had a magic wand but we have to be realistic and appreciate it cannot all be done at one go. However we must maintain the momentum of this protest year in year out for as long as it takes. The long term plan is to build an uninterrupted foot and cycle path from Bellarena Station to Benone Corner with street lighting where necessary,” said Colr McLaughlin.
“I don’t buy the pleading poverty argument either. There is a massive footpath project on going in the Coleraine Borough around Articlave. That area is not densely populated and thankfully does not have the high fatality rate as we have suffered on Seacoast Road. I would make the case that Magilligan and in particular Point Road should be a much higher priority from a risk assessment. I will be meeting with the Magilligan Community Association next week and before I take office as mayor in June will have in place a refreshed action plan to re energise the protest campaign.”