NARROW A section of the Derrada road which may be used as a diversion if the main road into Islandeady is closed for an extended period.
Controversial road plans discussed at two meetings
Anton McNulty and Ger Flanagan
Some residents in Islandeady are prepared to ‘lie in the middle of the road’ if plans go ahead to close a local road for three months to facilitate the construction of the new N5.
The claim was made by Independent councillor John O’Malley who said that residents were annoyed that long-term road closures might go ahead despite reassurances it would not happen.
The construction company, Wills Bros Ltd, responsible for the construction of the €240 million N5 dual carriageway between Westport and Turlough, had initially looked to close the L1811 road into Islandeady village for nine months. Following objections from local residents and concerns raised by Mayo County Council this proposal was taken off the table.
Cllr O’Malley said he was informed by Paul Hyland, senior engineer with the Mayo Roads Design Office, that there would be no long-term road closures but has now learned that it is back on the table.
“I was guaranteed by the engineer the road would not close but now the people have come back to me to say the road is now proposed to close for three months. That is against what we were told and not fair to the people,” he told last week’s meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District.
He added: “It will inconvenience people by up to 40 minutes and it will put traffic up a very bad and busy road. There is no need in this day and age to close a road for three months ... it will cause awful disruption and annoyance.
“I believe there are a few people willing to lie in the middle of the road in front of the machines rather than for it to be closed. I am not saying that lightly I mean that,” he said.
The matter was also discussed at last week’s meeting of the Castlebar Municipal District with Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne stating that Islandeady residents will be ‘imprisoned’ if the road in question is closed for an extended period.
He said it was ‘disgraceful’ that a more suitable and temporary road cannot be found for a project costing so much, and proposed that a meeting to be held to resolve the issue.
Earlier this month The Mayo News reported that the closure of the road has been met with some resistance from the locals, who claim that the two other entry points to the village – one at from the Newport side and the other closer to Westport via Derrada – are not fit to handle the extra volume of traffic.
Local representatives met with Mayo County Council and the road construction company Wills Brothers recently to voice the concerns of locals, which were voiced at a meeting of the community council on July 13.
Cathaoirleach of the District, Blackie Gavin (FF) voiced his disappointment that the local councillors were not notified of the meetings previously.
Cllr Martin McLoughlin (FF), a native of the area, highlighted that he was at an original meeting with the relevant bodies but was also disappointed not to be invited to the subsequent one.
Cllr Ger Deere added that he was ‘surprised’ such experienced contractors would be involved in a situation such as this and demanded answers. He also admitted he was left ‘appalled’ that the community were critical of the local councillors input so far, especially when they weren’t notified of any meetings. The road is currently still open and the community are waiting to hear proposals from the construction company, Wills Bros Ltd.