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TÓIBÍN: Let this be the last Dáil to allow the A5 deathtrap to exist

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le Sinn Féin mar gheall ar an rún seo a thabhairt os comhair na Dála inniu. Is rún uafásach tábhachtach é. Tá sé dochreidte go bhfuil muid ag fanacht an méid seo ama le haghaidh an bhóthair seo agus tá sé dochreidte go bhfuil an méid sin daoine tar éis a mbeatha a chailleadh ar an mbóthar seo le fada an lá.

I thank the Enough is Enough campaign for its efforts to bring to the fore, publicly and politically, this particular campaign. I thank them for their presence in the Dáil here today. I also thank Tyrone GAA for the efforts it has made to ensure this campaign has been lifted to national prominence. I want to give special thanks to Ms Kate Corrigan who lost her son in a road traffic collision on the A5 in County Tyrone. I pay tribute to Ms Corrigan's courage in making her presentation in the audiovisual room in Leinster House today and to the work she has been doing over the past number of years on this matter. It is heartbreaking to think that any parent would be faced with such devastating news. The manner in which Kate has dealt with that, in terms of trying to make sure this does not happen to any other family in the region, is amazing. I am sure she does not want our thanks and our tributes. I imagine that she wants political action, and that is what is demanded of us here in Leinster House and is demanded of politicians right across Ireland, North and South.

The A5 is not just unsafe; it is a deathtrap. It is incredible that nearly 50 people have been killed on that road since 2006, a year before the initial upgrade was announced. It is a damning indictment of the political system that after an upgrade was announced, the process has taken so long that 50 citizens have lost their lives in that period of time. In recent years, it is incredible that this road has led to a death every four months. It is an incredible figure for any state, North or South, to stand over. The A5 upgrade is a monument to brutal maladministration that is happening. It is an absolute disgrace that such dysfunction has been allowed to continue in the planning process in the North. It is incredible that the concerns of a small group of opponents to the road can outweigh in planning terms the value of 50 human beings. No matter what scales one uses to try to judge this particular upgrade, it is disgraceful that the views, worries or concerns of a small group of people can be placed at the same value as 50 human lives and that any planning process would allow for that. The A5 upgrade is also a monument to political failure. The political system has failed the hundreds of people who have been killed or seriously injured on that road. The truth of the matter is, North and South, the political system should be ashamed of itself for allowing this to continue for so long without a solution.

Given how grave the experiences have been for the families, we should not heap insults onto those families by any empty words here today. I believe that political platitudes from any quarter are simply not acceptable. What is necessary is real plans, real timelines, real funding, real action and real commitment. That is the only response that is justified in terms of the horror that has been experienced by so many families, especially in the north-west area.

I also believe that the A5 is a monument to partition and the dysfunction that partition wreaks on spatial planning and development. The A5 shows, in black and white, in material facts, that partition significantly disadvantages pretty much all aspects of life, whether it is the lopsided infrastructure that affects the Border area, the lack of development that has resulted from the lack of infrastructure or the lower incomes that are experienced. In terms of lives lost, there is definitely a significant cost to partition. Ireland's infrastructure is incredibly lopsided. A child looking at a map of Ireland for a couple of minutes could tell the Minister of State quickly the areas that are deemed important by the State and the areas that are not deemed important by the State. In reality, if one follows the money, one will follow what is important to a government. If one follows the investment, one will follow what is deemed important to a government. When one looks at Ireland, one sees that the quarter of the country between the Dublin to Belfast motorway and the Dublin to Galway motorway has been significantly let down by previous governments, leading to economic development reductions, lower incomes and far more dangerous transportation. I include the N2 as a symptom of that problem as well.

The N2 runs through my county. The N2 is an extremely dangerous road. Many people have been killed on that road. It is often discussed as a road of high collision rates. Slane, in my own county, has for years looked for a bypass. If one drives up the steep hill in Slane, one will still see the row of crosses that stands there as a monument to the people who have lost their lives as a result of Slane waiting for a bypass. One of the reasons we have such a proliferation of heavy goods vehicles on that road is the lack of a rail line to the north west of the country. The only rail line in that direction is a rail line that stops at Pace. It does not make it up to Derry or to Belfast, which would take people off that road and goods off that road as well.

I ask myself whether it would happen anywhere else in Ireland. Would it happen in Dublin that you had a road where 50 people died in 17 years? That would not have been accepted by the State. There would be outrage if a road was to continue in bad condition for that length of time leading to such deaths.

It simply would not happen. If this were Dublin, that project would be in the rearview mirror by some distance by now. Again, we have a very Dublin-centric Government. We have one constituency in south Dublin where all the Deputies are Ministers or Ministers of State and we have ten counties, mostly in Connacht-Ulster, where there is no Minister at all. That is incredible. We have very much a Dublin-centric administration in this country. That has to change. If regions are equal, they should get equal treatment in terms of investment.

Aontú fully supports this motion. We fully support the campaign. We believe this needs to be rectified as soon as possible. We understand the Planning Appeals Commission has finalised its public inquiry and the report is expected at the end of this year. It is imperative that this be the last Administration and the last Dáil to allow this deathtrap to exist anymore.

By Aontú Press | 5 July, 2023

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