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Editorial: Shock at latest crash felt across community

 Nathan Corrigan

THE death or injury of anyone on our roads is the news every family dreads at this time of year.

Christmas is a traditionally a time when relatives and friends come together, often taking to the roads to travel home or socialise during the break from busy working lives.

News that three young men were killed in a horrific road crash in Co Tyrone early yesterday has not only devastated three individual families but plunged an entire community into grief.

The men, all in their twenties, were travelling in a car which was in a collision with a lorry on the A5 at Garvaghy shortly before 2am.

All three tragically died at the scene, while a fourth man was taken to hospital for treatment for injuries and the thoughts and prayers of everyone will be for his recovery.

A family is also mourning in Co Antrim after another young man died in collision two days before Christmas.

The funeral will take place in Dunloy today of father-of-one Niall Quinn (34), who lost his life in a single-vehicle crash on the Garryduff Road.

His family have strong connections to the local Cuchullains hurling club and, as in Co Tyrone, there is no doubt the GAA and wider community will rally round to support relatives at this most difficult time.

While deaths linked to coronavirus have dominated news headlines over the last two years, reduced traffic levels during the pandemic have sadly not resulted in a corresponding reduction in road fatalities.

The latest deaths bring the number of lives lost on the north's roads during 2021 past the 50 mark, approaching figures recorded both last year and prior to the Covid outbreak.

Yesterday's crash happened on the A5 between Omagh and Ballygawley, a notorious stretch that has sadly become synonymous with accidents down the years.

While the circumstances of the collision are not yet known, a focus will inevitably again fall on the road's safety record and long-delayed plans for an upgrade as part of improvements to the entire Derry-Dublin route.

Plans for a new dual carriageway date back as far as 2007 and improving safety was a key objective. However, construction has repeatedly been put back due to a combination of funding problems, legal challenges and, most recently, environmental concerns.

The sympathies of everyone will be with the families affected by recent crashes and efforts should be redoubled to ensure that anything that can help prevent similar tragedies in future is being done.

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