Tributes to Oonagh Burns amid calls for urgent prioritisation of A5 upgrade to prevent further loss

Tribute has been paid at the Stormont Assembly to the late Oonagh Burns amid calls for the A5 road upgrade to be prioritised to prevent further loss of life.
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SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan spoke of the death of the 35-year-old Strabane woman on the Victoria Road close to its junction with the Grangefoyle Road on Sunday, April 7.

"It will come as no surprise to the House that I rise again today to raise the important issue of the A5, particularly after another life was lost on the road last week. Oonagh Burns, aged 35, died on April 7 when travelling from Derry towards Strabane.

"She went off the road and sadly lost her life.

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Oonagh Burns tragically lost her life on the A5 on April 7. She was remembered on Tuesday at the Stormont Assembly.Oonagh Burns tragically lost her life on the A5 on April 7. She was remembered on Tuesday at the Stormont Assembly.
Oonagh Burns tragically lost her life on the A5 on April 7. She was remembered on Tuesday at the Stormont Assembly.

“Her death marks 50 people who have died on this treacherous road since 2007. Fifty deaths. Fifty families left with that pain and sense of tremendous loss,” he said.

The West Tyrone MLA also remembered siblings Dan and Christine McKane and their aunt Julia McSorley, who died in a road collision near Aughnacloy on Thursday, April 27, 2023.

"This month also marks the one-year anniversary of the terrible deaths of the three members of the McKane family, who died at the end of April last year on the Aughnacloy section of the A5.

"This road leaves devastation in its wake at every single stretch. There is no family in Tyrone and beyond that has not been touched to some degree by this road.”

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Mr. McCrossan said the long-awaited upgrade of the A5 must proceed.

"There are delays and delays and delays, and those delays are costing lives. We cannot afford any further delays. I do not stand here to make a political point; I stand here in desperation because, with every passing day, further lives are put at risk on the A5.

"Just this week, for the past three consecutive days, at three different sections of that road, there have been serious accidents. Three days in a row.

"People are desperate to see this road delivered, and the report from the public inquiry, which was very well attended, has been sitting with the Department for Infrastructure since November and with the Minister, John O'Dowd, since February.

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"We need a decision, we need progress to be made and we need to ensure that this road is made safe,” he stated.

The SDLP MLA said ‘people are sick hearing me talk about it, but I am not going to give in until I see work begin on this road’ and that the work must be expedited to prevent others suffering the heartache of the Burns, McKane and McSorley families and many others who have lost loved ones on the road.

“It could be my family or anyone else's that is affected directly next. When I attended the wake of Oonagh Burns last week, her father said to me, ‘You never expect this to happen to your own family member, your own daughter’.

“I think of the Burns family today and of the community in Strabane, as we grieve another loss on that road. My plea to the House is this: whatever can be done must be done. We do not know how many more lives will be lost if we continue to see delays to work on that road,” said Mr. McCrossan.

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