‘YOU can’t put a figure on a life’. That was what local representatives were told at a meeting held to discuss the dangers of both Robeen and Ballygarries Crossroads.
The emergency meeting, held in Hollymount Hall, was convened last week after a serious crash took place at the Robeen Crossroads on November 12, resulting in the hospitalisation of four people. The incident involved two cars, one carrying two men in their 20s, and another carrying two sisters in their 20s.
One of the injured, Jamie Conroy, attended at the packed-to-capacity meeting, having been discharged from hospital that day – eight days after he was admitted. The parents of the other injured male were also there, along with the aunt and uncle of the two women who were also hurt in the incident. All parties thanked the medical personnel and emergency services for their sterling work, as well as locals and neighbours for their kindness.
Councillors from both Claremorris and Castlebar Municipal Districts were in attendance, as Robeen Crossroads is in the former district, while the second junction deemed unsafe, Ballgarries Crossroads, is in the latter.
While the right-of-way is unclear at the poorly signposted Robeen Crossroads, Ballygarries Crossroads faces a different issue: “There’s a blind spot coming up from the Togher side and drivers from the Moorehall direction have to edge way out to see towards Ballinrobe,” a local told The Mayo News.
Cllrs Richard Finn, Tom Connolly, Patsy O’Brien, Al McDonnell, Cyril Burke and Damien Ryan all pledged to allocate funds towards making the dangerous crossroads in Robeen safe.
The meeting was told that stakeholders in the local playschool, Robeen Rascals, and national school, Scoil Mhuire, had wanted to organise a petition before the November 12 collision took place.
Paula Campbell, Chairperson of Scoil Mhuire, told the meeting that over the past number of months, Robeen Crossroads had become more dangerous at peak preschool and school times.
A petition was circulated both before and after the meeting.
Local man Pat McGovern gave an emotional account of being present at the scene of the crash, describing it as ‘truly horrific’, but adding that all four young people were ‘tremendously brave’.
“The volume [of traffic] has increased. Quite a lot of traffic is strangers who wouldn’t know the crossroads … I’ve witnessed countless cars and trucks and jeeps speeding. It’s a miracle that more accidents don’t happen, and a miracle there was no fatalities,” said Mr McGovern.
Chairperson of the meeting Tom Geraghty pointed out that drivers come upon the poorly signposted crossroads ‘before they know it’. He also worried that if the November 12 crash had happened when children were being dropped off or collected at the school ‘we’d probably be at a graveyard [now]’.
A number of local residents attending the meeting called for emergency signage to be erected at the crossroads and suggested timber signage in the interim.
“More signage is badly needed,” agreed local councillor Patsy O’Brien, who told the meeting that a manufacturer has been paid to make a new sign.
However, he also said that a staggered junction would be ‘the best solution’, and that this would require roughly €100,000 in funding. “A design is being done on it,” he said, adding that he is willing to meet a delegation on December 4, along with Mayo County Council staff to ‘start this process together’.
Cllr O’Brien explained that the redesign of the Robeen Crossroads could be funded through the Low Cost Safety Programme, but that this was contingent on a roadway’s collision record.
“There are two accidents recorded on Pulse [Garda Síochána computer system],” he explained, adding: “I can’t be held responsible for the accident.”
Local woman Teresa McGovern said she wanted to know exactly what day signs will be going up and said she would have no problem lying down on the road at the junction to demand action.
“I don’t want to hear [about] funding. I want to know tonight. I never want to see four people on the road again. It’s very lucky these kids are alive.”
Chairperson Tom Geraghty said that though there was talk of ‘funding and costings, you cannot put a figure on a life’.
Members of the community were nominated to form a small delegation to meet with engineers and executives of Mayo County Council on December 4.