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Newport schoolchildren face ‘scary’ footpaths

News

TREACHEROUS School children trying to navigate the extremely narrow and dangerous footpath on George’s Street in Newport last week. Pic: Conor McKeown

Locals fear tragedy unless action is taken urgently

Anton McNulty

Residents in Newport have called for action to be taken to improve the footpaths in the town before a child is seriously injured or killed walking to and from school.
Since the creation of the Great Western Greenway, Newport has become one of the busiest towns in Mayo during the summer months, with hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists going through it every day.
The N59, which is the main road towards Achill, runs through the middle of the town.  Cormac Kelly of Kelly’s Butchers in Newport told The Mayo News last week that the infrastructure problem in the town needs solving, sooner rather than later.
“The street through Newport is the N59, as well as being part of the Greenway and the Wild Atlantic Way, and all that traffic goes through it.
“They have put the busiest Greenway through the town with no thought of infrastructure.
“Newport has grown an awful lot since the Greenway and we have taken full advantage of it, but when you see people walking through the town, you worry for them. We feel there is an accident waiting to happen because I am watching it every day.
“Will it have to be like Mulranny when someone has to be hurt before anything will be done and people in the council sit up and say yes we have to do something?” he said.
Cormac said that people are particularly concerned about the state of the footpaths along the hill on George’s Street, which is only wide enough for one person to walk along and not suitable for a wheelchair or a buggy.
Main access
The street is the main access from the town to Newport National School, and with a blind bend at the bottom of the hill, parents feel this is a particularly dangerous location.
“When I see a teacher come up with 30 kids I go out and help them sometimes, because there is no pedestrian crossing, or no way of slowing down the traffic. The footpath on one side is narrow and on the other side there are steps and they are not suitable for wheelchairs. I know a man who goes from Sheridan’s Centra to the laundrette [at the bottom of George’s Street] and he has to go right around the Quay, which is an extra mile.
“There have been loads of scraps there [George’s Street] and I know of a child who was hurt by a cyclist who was on the footpath because he was too scared to cycle on the road. It is scary for anyone going down that hill, with cars and trucks beside them going around a blind corner.
“I invite any councillor or council official to stand on that corner for five minutes or try and bring a buggy or wheelchair up there and see what happens,” he explained.
Cormac recently created a Facebook page to highlight the problem and residents intend to form a committee to get something done. He believes there are solutions to the problem along George’s Street, which can be explored along with alternative routes for the Greenway through the town.
“We just think Newport has the feeling of a forgotten town at the moment, it really does. We believe they can do something with George’s Street. The council just can’t walk away and put their blinkers on. Basically something needs to be done before someone gets hurt. It has gone on too far,” added Cormac.