Priest who has buried A5 victims welcomes funding

Priest who has buried A5 victims welcomes funding

A priest who has witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by road traffic collisions on the “dangerous” A5 road, has welcomed the Irish Government’s funding announcement.

While reacting positively to Tuesday’s €600m funding promise for the A5, Fr Michael O’Dwyer PP of Errigal Ciaran parish in Co. Tyrone said, “it is long overdue”.

“We have had too many deaths, even in my short time here. It is a dangerous road to this day. It will be very welcome, but it will take a while for it all to come through,” Fr O’Dwyer said.

In 2022 the priest spoke at the funeral of 20-year-old Nathan Carter, who died on the A5, and highlighted the need to upgrade the road.

Regarding the feeling of families and friends of victims, Fr O’Dwyer said: “Their main message is they do not want other families to go through what they went through, they still have to live with their grief and their sorrow and all of that pain, but they don’t want others to have to face the same.

“We do know that the road from Dungannon to Ballygawley was quite bad at one stage, years ago, but since it became a dual carriageway, things have changed completely death-wise and accident-wise. So we hope that a new road here would have a similar consequence, just less accidents, less fatalities.” Since 2006 more than 50 people have died on the A5.

The Department of the Taoiseach announced €800 million for Shared Island projects including the “long-awaited upgrading of the A5 road link to the north west” on February 20.

The Government committed €600 million to the A5 North-West transport corridor, and is advancing work on linked road projects including the N2 Clontibret and Donegal TEN-T upgrades in 2024.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Construction of the new A5 could start later this year which will bring road connectivity to the North-West on a par with other parts of the island.”

The Government also agreed to channel funding through the Shared Island Fund to a host of other projects.

This includes €50m to a redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast, creating a high-quality sports stadium which can also host matches as part of the Euro 2028 tournament as well as €12.5m for a new hourly-frequency rail service between Belfast and Dublin.