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Murrisk in mourning

Roads claim first 2012 life

Murrisk in mourning after death of ‘great character’ in Kilsallagh crash

Áine Ryan

FATAL car crash. It is not the news that anyone wants to hear as a New Year dawns. But early yesterday one elderly mother, her family and the tightly-knit community of Murrisk, near Westport, was enveloped in deep shock and sadness as news broke of the death, after a road traffic accident, of local farmer and community volunteer Michael Joe Gavin (52).
The popular bachelor, who lived for over a half of a century in the shadow of the holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, was involved in a single-vehicle road traffic accident near Kilsallagh, about four miles from Louisburgh, at around 12.35am yesterday morning (Monday).
Fortunately, both the driver, Noel Gavin (23), and another passenger, John Sammin (19) were uninjured in the crash, which reportedly involved the Peugeot transit van, in which they were travelling from Louisburgh, hitting an embankment on a corner near the old Kilsallagh schoolhouse.
Tragically, Michael Joe Gavin was pronounced dead at the scene. Westport gardaí confirmed that the road would remain closed for much of yesterday for a Forensic Collision investigation.
The late Mr Gavin is survived by his mother, Babs, and brothers, Austin and John, with whom he lived in the family home. Another brother, Chris Gavin runs a well-known taxi service in Murrisk, while his sister, Joan Gardiner, a former member of staff at Mayo County Council, lives in Belclare, Co Galway.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Johnny Groden of Murrisk Development Association, said the community was reeling from the news.
“Michael Joe was a jolly man and a great character and everyone knew him. He not only worked on many of the social schemes here in the village, he also contributed much on a voluntary level. He was always available to help his neighbours,” Mr Groden said.
Other members of the small community contacted by The Mayo News declined to comment saying they were ‘too shocked’.

Garda cutbacks risk road safety

MEANWHILE, Jim Higgins, an MEP for the North West, warned yesterday that cutting garda resources in 2012 for road policing would be a retrograde step.  
“We’ve come a long way in just six years since the RSA (Road Safety Authority) was set up. Fellow MEPs on the Transport Committee have asked me during the last two years what exactly Ireland has done to cut the carnage.
“I tell them that there is no one magic solution to road safety, rather a range of measures such as hard hitting ads, education campaigns, changes to the law, improved infrastructure, the RSA, but above all better respect for the rules of the road by drivers through more visible enforcement by the Garda Traffic Corps. We all have that instant reaction when we see a Garda car to check our speed, and to double-check everyone is belted up,” Jim Higgins said. 
Echoing RSA Chairman Gay Byrne’s concerns about any possible break-up of the Garda Traffic Corps, Mr Higgins argued it would be a disaster for Ireland.
“In 2011, 186 people were killed on the nation’s roads, compared to 212 last year, making Ireland’s roads the second safest in the EU just behind Malta. The problem facing us now is how do we continue to reduce the death rate further?
“Even with the reduced number of deaths in 2011, there are thousands of families facing into the New Year having had a relative either killed or seriously injured. Accidents don’t just happen, there are contributory factors and we must ensure that we continue to enforce the rules of the road with increased vigour,” Jim Higgins said.

Record drop in road deaths

PROVISIONAL road casualty figures for 2011 published on New Year’s Day show that road deaths throughout the country have fallen below 200 for the first time since road deaths were recorded in 1959. Deaths have also fallen for their sixth consecutive year and this is the fourth year in a row where deaths have been a record low.
A total of 186 people tragically lost their lives on the country’s roads in 2011. This is 26 fewer fatalities compared to 212 deaths last year and 52 fewer deaths compared to 2009 when 238 people lost their lives on the roads.
Since the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012 was introduced in 2007 road deaths have dropped by 50 per cent. When compared to the year before the introduction of the first ever road safety strategy in 1998, deaths have fallen by 59 per cent.

Mayo road deaths
ROAD Safety Officer with Mayo County Council, Noel Gibbons confirmed there were 12 deaths on Mayo’s roads in 2011. That is four more than in 2010. Fifteen people died on Mayo’s roads in 2005.