‘TORMENTED’ Breaffy resident Donal Gallagher.
CASTLEBAR councillors have heard directly from two locals who have endured ‘18 months of bloody hell’ because of the ongoing works on the N5 Westport to Turlough road.
Addressing councillors in at the recent meeting of Castlebar Municipal District in Áras an Chontae, Eimear Quinn and Donal Gallagher expressed anger over the disruption they have experienced since works on the new road commenced near their homes last year.
The N5 project consists of 20 kilometres of dual carriage way and 7.5 kilometres of single carriageway, including an upgrade of the 2.5-kilometre section of the N59 Westport to Mulranny national secondary road at Barley Hill.
Ms Quinn and Mr Gallagher said that the noise and dirt generated daily by rock-breaking and blasting near their homes has made their daily lives extremely difficult.
Ms Quinn, says she is ‘living in a quarry’ due to rock-breaking occurring near her home from 7am until 7pm, Monday to Friday, and often on weekends.
After Cathaoirleach Cllr Martin McLoughlin agreed to suspend standing orders to allow her to speak, Ms Quinn said that the plight of residents was being ‘ignored’ by the contractors Wills BAM.
“I work in Baxter … I’m in a noisy environment every day. I like to come home to my home to peace. My peace is being invaded,” she said.
“My family life is being impacted. We’re tired of it. We’re sick of it. There’s no let up. We’re engaging with people all the time. Wills BAM are not engaging with us. We’re ignored, nobody cares,” she added.
“It’s been pure isolation and noise. There is absolutely no regard for our lives whatsoever. I just think it’s absolutely morally wrong what we have to endure.”
Ms Quinn said that she had not being informed about how long the contractors would be engaged in rock-breaking, during which time she moved house for seven months.
She said that she has been in contact with the media, local representatives and the Gardaí in relation to the issue.
“Come stand in our house. The vibration is unreal, every single day,” she added.
‘Eighteen months of bloody hell’
Donal Gallagher, who lives right beside the road works on the N60 in Breaffy, described the experience as ‘18 months of bloody hell’.
“The torment and the torture that we are going through is an insult to the human race,” he stated.
Mr Gallagher said that there were 24 different issues in relation to the roadworks which had not been resolved by Wills BAM.
These included a lack of hoarding and wheel-washing facilities, which he said was generating a large amount of dirt and dust near his home.
“Where were the council engineers that were employed to look after the road? Nowhere to be seen, I presume. If they were, nothing has been done,” he said.
Mr Gallagher was also critical at only being allocated ten minutes to speak at the meeting due to Covid regulations.
In a document presented to councillors at the meeting, Mayo County Council stated that no blasting was occurring within 100 metres of any premises.
“[Wills BAM Joint Venture] gives prior notice of each blast and prior to each blast there are a number of sirens discharged at prescribed intervals,” the statement read.
“It is anticipated by the contractor that the bulk of the rock breaking will be completed by the end of Quarter 4 2021, but there will be intermittent rock breaking for ducting, public lighting, crash barrier, nose barriers etc. up to Quarter 2, 2022.”
Addressing Mr Gallagher and Ms Quinn, Senior Engineer with Mayo National Roads Design Office Paul Hyland acknowledged that the works made life ‘extremely difficult’ for residents.
Mr Hyland explained that rock-breaking and blasting were essential for the advancement of the earthworks, which are 76 percent complete as of September 29.
“It is acknowledged that there is a significant impact on the residents in Breaffy arising from the rock-breaking, there is no denying it, but the contractor has to do what the contractor has to do,” he said.
Mr Hyland added that the contractor estimated that most rock breaking in the area would be finished by the end of this year.
Cllr Ger Deere, who invited Mr Gallagher and Mr Quinn to appear at meeting, said there had been ‘a serious lack of engagement’ between Wills BAM and the residents in the affected area.
Other councillors expressed their sympathies with Mr Gallagher and Ms Quinn, with Cllr Donna Sheridan calling for the ‘breakdown in communication’ to be addressed.
While conceding that it was impossible to have zero disturbance to local residents, Cllr Al McDonnell said that any disturbance should be kept to an absolute minimum.