The A5 is the main transport link between Dublin and Donegal and is one of the busiest roads in the North of Ireland’s.
It is also regarded as one of its most dangerous.
The Stormont Assembly approved a huge scheme to improve it in July 2007.
The project, the A5 Western Transport Corridor, would upgrade the entire 93km road to a dual carriageway between Aughnacloy, just across the border from Monaghan, and Newbuildings in Co Derry, close to the border with Donegal.
But work has still not started due to repeated legal challenges by a protest group.
During that time 47 people have been killed on the road, which is mostly a stretch of single carriageway.
Two weeks ago, the names of three members of the same family were added to that list.
Brother and sister Dan and Christine McKane and their aunt Julia McSorley were killed, and four other relatives injured when their minibus collided with a lorry near Aughnacloy.
They had been returning home from a family funeral in England when the collision happened in the early hours of April 27.
Campaigners say it is vital that the long-promised upgrade is completed as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of further fatalities.
“These are not statistics. 47 people, 47 homes and families devastated, and that’s only since July 2007,” chair of the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign group Niall McKenna told a public meeting in the Silver Birch Hotel in Omagh last night.
“Our message is clear. The only thing we will accept is a new road, a new dual carriageway the whole way from Aughnacloy to Newbuildings.
“Our name and our message is clear, enough is enough.”
The group was founded earlier this year by the Tyrone County Board to back a long-running campaign for the upgrade to proceed.A delayed public inquiry into planning issues is due to resume in Omagh on Monday, with pressure mounting on the Department of Infrastructure at Stormont to implement the project.
Those who attended the meeting included the parents of Nathan Corrigan, who was killed along with two friends when their car collided with a lorry just yards from his home on 27 December 2021.
“On that horrific morning we got the news that every parent dreads, that fateful doorbell ring, and your heart is just ripped out completely,” said his mother Kate.
She is angered that some of the objections based by members of an opposition group are based on cost.
The Alternative A5 Alliance group includes farmers and landowners who say they are opposed because of the compulsory buying of land as well as environmental issues.
The original estimate for the project was £800m, but that has soared to £1.6bn – double that amount.
Campaigners say much of the increased cost is due to the long-running opposition to the project.
“Nathan was 20, his 21st birthday was the following week. I couldn’t put a price on his life and there’s no money that I would not give to have him back,” Ms Corrigan said.
“So for me finances, environmental issues, environment laws, doesn’t really come into it, it’s human lives that count and human lives that matter.”
Operations Manager for DMAC Engineering in Dungannon Daniel McCusker told the meeting he fears for staff who regularly have to travel the A5.
“We have three HGV vehicles on the road and these vehicles will be supplying two or three times a day everyday,” he explained.
“Putting these vehicles on the road every day is like Russian roulette, because I know, I travel the road everyday myself. You’re taking your life in your hands all the time.”
The fact that the Stormont Assembly is currently in limbo is not an issue.
As the project has already been approved by the Stormont Executive, it can be implemented by civil servants if the public inquiry concludes that it should go ahead.Tags: