Belfast Telegraph

Grit row focused after road death

by Natalie Irvine

As fresh snow settles across Newtownabbey, the furore over who is responsible for gritting the borough’s pavements has not — the tragic death of local man Colin Weir over the weekend highlighting the issue.

Mr Weir (33), who lived in the Greyabbey Gardens area of Monkstown, was killed after he was hit by a car on the Doagh Road at about 10.50pm on Sunday.

While police are still appealing for information surrounding the crash, they haven’t ruled out the possibility that Mr Weir and his friend, who was seriously injured in the crash, chose to use the road to walk home after an evening socialising, as pavements were too slippy.

Newtownabbey Deputy Mayor Tommy Kirkham, who knew Mr Weir personally, said: “Colin was well known in his local community and will be greatly missed. This is a tragic loss of life.

“My sincere thoughts go out to his family, his fiancée and his two young children. The second man injured remains critically ill in hospital and I wish him a speedy recovery.

“There is the possibility in this tragic incident that the pavement may have been too dangerous to walk on, however, police are still appealing for information and nothing has been confirmed,” said Mr Kikham.

“While I feel Roads Service has done a tremendous job trying to grit roads across the country in these horrendous conditions and keep traffic moving, the footpaths remain a very serious problem.

“At the moment their remit falls under the Department for Regional Development (DRD) — but they say they have no budget. I reject the words Conor Murphy made yesterday, effectively blaming local councils for the state of the footpaths and that we rejected the DRD proposals on tackling the problem of slippery pavements.

“I know I speak on behalf of the council and its chief executive when I say, give us the tools and resources, Mr Murphy, and we will clear the pavements.”

He said councils, working with local community groups, were ideally placed to identify key footpaths to target, nears schools etc.

“This is such a serious problem that affects everyone; we need to develop a better strategy to cope with these adverse weather conditions,” said Kirkham.

“I also feel we should encourage the scheme some local shops are running — delivering essential groceries to those people who can’t get out.

“This is happening with some shops in Rathcoole, I would like to see rolled out and form a part of the council’s cold weather strategy, a strategy that the council and local community groups need to get working on right away.

Mr Weir’s funeral takes place on Friday at 1pm in his home, then Carnmoney Cemetery.

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