Editorial: 'Enough is Enough' for deadly A5
THE sorrow and frustration felt in Tyrone over the death toll on the A5, widely regarded as the north's most dangerous road, has been given a potent new voice and renewed focus by the 'A5 Enough is Enough' campaign.
An initiative of Tyrone GAA, Enough is Enough held its first public meeting at Garvaghey on Monday night.
The large turnout reflected the strength of feeling in an area which since 2007 has seen 44 people killed on the road, which is the main route from Aughnacloy to Derry, with an especially hazardous stretch between Ballygawley and Omagh.
The meeting heard powerful testimony from the loved ones of some of those who have lost their lives.
The campaign has made a series of videos to highlight the pressing need for change. In one, former Tyrone midfielder Kevin Hughes, who lost his brother and sister in separate collisions on the nearby A4, asks: "How many lives have to be lost before something is done? All people want to do is get to work, go to schools and go to the shops safely."
The A4 between Ballygawley and Dungannon was formerly a notorious accident blackspot but a new road was completed in 2010, since when it is estimated collisions have fallen by 97 per cent, according to Enough is Enough chair Niall McKenna.
The cost of building a new A5 to a similar standard has escalated to an estimated £1.6 billion, almost double the price when the scheme first got the go-ahead in 2009, at which time the Irish government promised to contribute £400m.
Since then it has been beset by well-documented planning wrangles, as well as increasing funding difficulties. The latest hurdles include a consultation on the plans, ahead of a much-delayed public inquiry.
There are strong social, strategic and economic arguments for upgrading the road, but most compelling is the life and death case. Enough is Enough ultimately wants to see a new A5 built, but until then is calling for "immediate mitigating road improvements that might start saving lives now".
This could include relatively modest measures such as better lighting at junctions, improved signs and overtaking lanes. These should happen urgently.
The Tyrone GAA family deserves enormous credit for showing clear and positive leadership in an issue which affects the entire community; as Mr McKenna put it: "Ultimately, this issue is much bigger than the GAA... this road does not discriminate. It will kill you regardless of what sport you follow, or none."