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Fatal collision spurs barrier call

By Steven Alexander

Published 14/08/2015

Police and an ambulance at the scene of the fatal accident in Ballynahinch yesterday
Police and an ambulance at the scene of the fatal accident in Ballynahinch yesterday

A collision outside a shop in Ballynahinch in which a pedestrian was killed by a lorry yesterday happened in the same spot where a woman died in a similar accident in 2011.

Pat Branniff (86) from Finnis, near Dromara, died after he was struck by the vehicle in the Co Down town yesterday morning.

There had been calls for safety barriers after the last fatal accident - and the latest death has prompted those calls again.

The centre of Ballynahinch was still sealed off at rush hour last night, causing traffic chaos in the area.

It is understood there were some minor accidents as drivers took to the smaller back roads.

The lorry involved in yesterday's collision, shortly before 11am, travelled through the centre of Ballynahinch and left the town along Dromore Street afterwards.

Police initially believed that the driver may not have been aware that his vehicle - a loaded six-wheel tipper lorry with a blue/brown cab - was involved.

It had Miskelly Brothers Ltd written on the front of the cab, although this vehicle is no longer owned by the company.

Police located the lorry yesterday evening and arrested the male driver on suspicion of a number of motoring offences.

Last night the man was assisting police with their enquiries.

Mr Branniff was in Ballynahinch regularly on a Thursday for the market.

In 2011 pensioner Min Gibson was killed when she was knocked down by a lorry while crossing the same part of Windmill Street near the Mace shop.

She also died on a market day, when Ballynahinch's streets are most busy.

And another man, Laurence Smith, lost a leg when he was struck by a lorry there a year earlier. Mr Branniff was a constituent of SDLP councillor Mark Murnin.

Mr Murnin said there was a sombre atmosphere in Ballynahinch after the collision, as businesses closed, leaving the traumatised town deserted.

"It brings back memories. A lot of people would have also been there the day Mrs Gibson died," he said.

"We are going to seriously have to look again at barriers.

"However, the only long-term solution is a bypass."

Mr Murnin said he had checked CCTV footage from his bar, Paddy Kelly's, to see if it had caught yesterday's collision. It hadn't, but the late morning traffic at the time was "like rush hour", he said.

Mr Murnin said he wrote to Stormont Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy after Mr Branniff's death, urging him to expedite the bypass and to look at temporary safety measures to protect the public in the meantime.

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