A5 upgrade needs to be urgently and definitively confirmed - The Irish News view

The deaths of teenagers Kamile Vaicikonyte and Jamie Moore brings to 56 the number of those who have died on the road since 2007

A5 crash victims
Jamie Moore (19) and Kamile Vaicikonyte (17) died in the latest crash tragedy on the A5

The most appalling aspect of the latest catastrophe on the A5, resulting in the deaths of two teenagers, Kamile Vaicikonyte (17) and Jamie Moore (19), was that it was nothing less than completely predictable.

Accidents resulting in serious injuries, and all too regularly fatalities, have been taking place with grim regularity on the same road, leading to devastation across the community.

The deaths of the two young people brings to 56 the number of those who have lost their lives on the A5 since a planned upgrade was first announced in 2007.

The latest tragedy was caused by a single vehicle crash, involving a BMW car at Doogary Road, close to Omagh, on Tuesday night. Ms Vaicikonyte and Mr Moore died at the scene.

It happened only a day after pupils at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley took part in an emotional ceremony to highlight the carnage. As a poignant front page photograph in this newspaper on Tuesday demonstrated, the entire school population assembled with a group carrying crosses to represent those who at that stage had lost their lives on the road in the subsequent 17 years.

It was a powerful image and it was beyond heart breaking when it emerged yesterday that Ms Vaicikonyte was a Year 13 student at St Ciaran’s.

The history of the A5, which connects Derry city with the border village of Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone, and is part of the main link between the north west of Ireland and Dublin, is a terrible one.

Pupils at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley launch a campaign relating to deaths on the A5 Road.
Pupils at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley launched an A5 campaign this week (Colm Lenaghan)

Deaths have been sadly common down the years along a narrow single carriageway which has carried an ever increasing amount of traffic as it twists and turns through towns, villages and rural countryside.

The 2007 statement from the authorities was official recognition that the A5 was no longer fit for purpose but, despite the completion of a public planning inquiry, the project to comprehensively improve it has been surrounded by a complex range of delays and legal challenges ever since.

It has been widely noted that there has been a 97 per cent reduction in road deaths on the A4 stretch between Ballygawley and Dungannon since it became a dual carriageway.

While there were hopes that the A5 work, which has the full support of the Stormont and Dublin administrations, would belatedly start later this year, an actual schedule has yet to be agreed.

It is an incredibly frustrating set of circumstances and it should be clear to all concerned that it cannot be allowed to continue.

Even if some form of legislative intervention is required, it is an absolute imperative that a date for the commencement of the A5 scheme is finally and definitively confirmed.