Families of A5 crash victims say there is ‘no justification’ for roadwork …
Family members of victims of crashes on the A5 have said there is “no justification” for continued delays to improvements for the road.
Julia McSorley was among the victims of one of the most recent crashes on the A5 when she was killed as the minibus she was travelling in collided with a lorry.
Her nephew and niece, Dan and Christine McKane, were also killed in the crash just outside Aughnacloy at the end of April.
More than 50 people have died on the A5 since 2006, and a public inquiry into a new dual carriageway reopened on Monday.
Julie McGeehan and Tara McKenna, Ms McSorley’s daughter and granddaughter, attended the inquiry in Omagh.
Ms McKenna said the inquiry had offered no solutions to the safety issues, adding: “It’s just phenomenal nothing has really been done.
“And even just listening in here today, there is no alternatives, there’s just arguments and objections to the scheme ahead and no solutions.
“It’s more climate and things surrounding that, and I understand that’s a factor in all of this as well, and that’s what we’re here for: to listen to that opposition as well, to give them the chance.
“But the justification isn’t there at all, and we’re just disheartened to hear that, truly, and I’m a bit angry about it as well.
“We just cannot fathom that these are serious arguments against the A5.”Julia McSorley’s granddaughter Tara McKenna, widower Patsy and daughter Julie McGeehan (Liam McBurney/PA)
The inquiry heard evidence on the potential environmental impact of the A5 road improvements, including on carbon emissions and increased traffic.
Ms McGeehan said: “You hear people talk about appendixes, and just statistics and numbers, when you’re sitting there and you’ve just lost three members of your family.
“They’re talking about replanting trees that might die when people are losing lives on the road, people are dying.”
Ms McGeehan said there was no justification for continued delay on the A5 scheme.
“We don’t want another life to be lost on that road, no matter what they said in there. There’s just no justification for the stalling and the objections,” she said.
“It just feels like it’s embarrassing and disheartening and angering and frustrating for us as a family and for the families that have come before us, that are fighting since 2007. I mean, I can’t even imagine how frustrated they are. And for us it’s still so recent and so raw so obviously we are emotional at the same time.”
The group opposing the project, Alternative A5 Alliance (AA5A), has raised concerns about land use and environmental impact.
Ms McGeehan said the arguments against the road did not match the families’ losses.
“I can’t see anything that equals a human life no matter what argument they fire up there, it doesn’t equal people’s families,” she said.
Niall McKenna is the chairman of the group Enough is Enough, which advocates in favour of the A5 scheme.Niall McKenna (Liam McBurney/PA)
The group was formed after John Rafferty, 21, from Killyclogher, died as a result of a two-vehicle collision on the Curr Road section of the A5 on October 27 last year.
“It’s tough for them to be here today, and to listen to things like this, a tough experience for them, they feel they are retraumatised,” he said
“But they do it because they don’t want any more families to go through the pain and suffering that they’re going through.”
Mr McKenna said a small group was preventing the work from going ahead.
“The only reason, you know, and there’s no point in cloaking this, the only reason is that there’s a very small group of objectors who have had undue influence on the decision-making process so far,” he said.
“Now that, obviously, raises much wider and longer term issues… there seems to be some sort of dysfunctionality with the planning system and the planning appeals system in this part of the world that would allow a small group like that to continuously thwart these large projects.”
The inquiry will continue until early June.