Dalradian mining company asks transport chiefs to abandon historic Co Tyrone route

Anti gold mining campaigner Cormac McAleer is opposed to a request for an historic route close to a proposed cyanide plant to be abandoned
Anti gold mining campaigner Cormac McAleer is opposed to a request for an historic route close to a proposed cyanide plant to be abandoned

CONCERNS have been raised after a Canadian mining company asked transport chiefs to abandon an historic stretch of road said to have been used by Gaelic chieftans during the Flight of the Earls.

The Crockanboy Road, known locally as the Green Road, at Greencastle in Co Tyrone, is believed to be part of one of the oldest routes still in use in Ulster.

The road runs close to where Dalradian Gold wants to build a controversial cyanide plant in the Sperrin Mountains which is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and close to a primary school and homes.

Some residents have voiced concerns after it emerged that the firm intends to use the highly toxic chemical at the plant to extract gold from ore which it intends to mine locally.

The Department for Infrastructure, headed by Sinn Féin minister Chris Hazzard, is currently considering the application following a recent consultation.

Anti mine campaigner Cormac McAleer said the route was used by former Gaelic Chieftan Hugh O’Neill as he made his way from Tyrone to Co Donegal during the Flight of the Earls more than 400 years.

Mr McAleer, who represents the Save Our Sperrins campaign, last night said the group is opposed to the road closure.

He said people felt passionate about the issue as the road and wider area has a “rich history and cultural heritage”.

"This part of the world is steeped in tradition,” he said. "It’s an area where Irish heritage and Irish language was very active.”

Mr McAleer said that while nobody lives on the stretch of road Dalradian want to see abandoned, there are properties on either side of it.

He said that the road was well-used and provides general access to the countryside.

The campaigner said it was time that a tourism plan was drawn up for the area.

“It’s a very beautiful, natural and unspoiled part of the country and that’s what tourism and visitors are looking for when they come to the country,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Dalradian said: “We are listening to people and as part of the project. It is proposed that a short section of existing public road running through the site will be abandoned and an alternative route will be provided to the south of the site.

“We will continue to engage with local people about our plans including at our forthcoming public information events.”

A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure said it had "recently been made aware of proposed measures to mitigate the impact of the road abandonment and the matter is still under consideration".

“Currently, it is not possible to indicate when a decision in relation to the proposed abandonment could be made as the issues are complex and more detail is required.”