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‘It’s psychological torture’

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AT BREAKING POINT Neighbours Dónal Ó Gallachoir and Emer Quinn stand along the Ó Gallachoirs' garden boundary with the N5 roadworks behind them. Pic: Conor McKeown

Edwin McGreal

Two Breaffy families who have endured close to two years of rock breaking close to their homes have spoken out about the ‘psychological torture’ they’ve had to deal with.
Rock breaking near the homes of Dónal Ó Gallachoir and Emer Quinn was initially due to last for four months.
However, instead of finishing in November 2020, it is still ongoing. They told The Mayo News how the rock breaking commences most mornings at 7am, five days a week and has continued into Saturdays in recent weeks. Their homes are alongside the intersection of the new €241 million Westport to Turlough N5 with the existing N60 Castlebar to Claremorris road.
“When they break for lunch we’re so glad of the peace,” Emer Quinn told The Mayo News.
“I’ve lost two summers in my garden, tending to it. You couldn’t wait out there. I’ve let it go. My children won’t visit. My pride in my home is gone. I would love to be able to take in a Ukrainian family but I couldn’t bring anyone here with this going on.
“It is psychological torture. I work 4pm to midnight every day. I changed from the night shift because it was impossible to sleep here during the day.
“During the lockdowns it was a nightmare when you couldn’t go visiting and everywhere was closed. I was stuck here with the rock breaking going on all day.
“I had Covid two weeks ago and I had to crawl into my car to get sleep. You used look forward to the weekend more than ever because of the break from it but now they’re rock-breaking on Saturdays too,” she adds.
Dónal Ó Gallachoir said a written request by both that rock breaking would not commence until 9am in the mornings was met with silence.
“It’s been two years of living hell we cannot get back.
“With some blasts you’d swear the whole house was coming in. When it is at its worst you cannot have a conversation with whoever is in the room with you or hear the radio or TV,” said Dónal Ó Gallachoir, a retired garda who has been living in Breaffy with his wife Marian for over 40 years.

‘Nightmare’
BOTH Dónal Ó Gallachoir and Emer Quinn wonder aloud about why their homes in Breaffy were not bought out by a compulsory purchase order (CPO), as is common for properties sufficiently impacted by such road works.
“CPOs are the only solution, even though these are our homes,” said Emer Quinn.
“Then we look and see other houses not even close to roundabouts or junctions being bought and wonder why we haven’t been CPO-ed. We don’t want to leave our homes but nobody would choose to live here for these past two years,” she added.
They have been left frustrated by their dealings with Mayo County Council and the council’s National Roads Design Office.
“They’ve seen us plead, cry, beg and get upset and nothing from them. After seeing RTÉ Investigates on Mayo County Council, I’m rattled. The council just don’t seem to care,” said Emer Quinn.
“It’s a nightmare. How can someone dump this on your door and get away with it? Dumping this noise every morning and all the dust as well. We don’t want compensation, we wanted the noise to stop. No one wants to lose their home,” she said.  
Deputy Michael Ring, who confirmed the project in 2019, said he has ‘full sympathy’ with the residents.
“A lot of people were looked after and dealt with along this new road. Maybe these homeowners could have been bought out in the beginning. But there is still a system there for people who have been inconvenienced and these people should be compensated in whatever way is required. They need to be looked after,” he told The Mayo News.
In response to a series of questions from The Mayo News, Mayo County Council issued a statement.
They said they ‘are not in a position to answer questions in relation to individual landowners and homeowners’.
“We acknowledge that the rock breaking has gone on longer than anticipated due to the hardness of the rock,” they said.