Family of fatal crash victim angry at 'no progress' on A1 safety despite a £43k spend
Over £40,000 has been spent on three public consultations in order to improve the safety of the A1 dual carriageway.
However, the family of Eugene McNally, who died on the road in 2015, claim there has been no progress whatsoever.
The A1 Junctions Phase 2 scheme was developed by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to provide further safety improvements along the stretch of the notorious road between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland.
Fifty-nine people have been killed on the A1 between Sprucefield's Belfast Road roundabout and Newry's Dublin Road roundabout since 1998.
To coincide with Road Safety Week 2019, which began yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph was informed by the DfI that as part of the development of the preferred option for the A1 Junctions Phase 2 scheme, approximately £43,000 has been spent on three separate public consultations in June 2017, February 2018 and March 2019.
No solicitor's fees or survey costs have been incurred to date.
Responding to the expenditure, Linzi Magee (37), whose father, Eugene McNally, died on the A1 in December 2015, said she was both angry and frustrated that the money had been spent with very little safety improvements being carried out on the road.
Mr McNally (56) from Laurencetown, Co Down, was a former station commander at Newry Fire Station, who specialised in road traffic accidents in his role as a road traffic collision instructor.
He had only retired from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service 11 months before he lost his life after he attempted to cross the Donaghmore junction just outside Newry.
In one of his last traffic collisions, Mr McNally worked on the scene of the A1 crash where Sr Marie Duddy and Sr Frances Forde perished in 2014.
Since his death, Mr McNally's children, Ms Magee, Laura Spiers and Paul McNally have been pushing for drastic safety measures to be put in place on the dual carriageway.
Ms Magee, who lives in Downpatrick, said it was "not acceptable" that £43,000 has been spent on consultations as people are still at risk when using the A1.
"That amount of money has been spent and yet there's been absolutely no progress, but you need to look at the number of deaths there has been on that road in that time," she stated.
"It makes you angry, it makes you frustrated but you just come to nearly expect it from Northern Ireland because of the situation we're currently in because of not having a government.
"It's almost like the public have become anaesthetised to this because they're like, 'awk well, that's just what happens in Northern Ireland'.
"This is our money that is being spent, no progress is being made and it's our families' lives that are being lost because nothing is being done to this road."
Ms McNally continued by insisting she will not give up fighting for road improvements along the A1 as her family do not want anyone else to go through what they have been through.
"We don't want other people to go through that but in order to bring change and hold people accountable for that spending we need to get people, who haven't been through it, to also put pressure on their local MPs, and in turn the government, and the Department for Infrastructure," she said.
A DfI spokesperson said the consultation exercises offered an opportunity for the public and other stakeholders to engage with members of the A1 Junctions Phase 2 scheme on the design of the preferred option as well as the development process.
"This included preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Statutory Orders on this important project which is considering safety concerns and proposals for further road improvements along the A1 which links Dublin and Belfast and carries approximately 40,000 vehicles per day," the spokesperson added.