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No-one can abdicate responsibility for epidemic of road deaths

3 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has accused British direct rule Ministers of abdicating responsibility for the appalling number of deaths on our roads, particularly on the rural road network that has been under funded for decades with huge cuts in the maintenance budget for rural roads.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The appalling number of deaths on our roads is reaching almost epidemic levels. No-one can abdicate responsibility.

"The approach of British direct rule ministers to the situation does little to suggest that they have a comprehensive strategy for tackling the crisis.

"It is right to highlight the levels of dangerous driving , speeding and the misuse of alcohol and drugs on the number of road deaths. But it is not just down to attitude. There is more that government can do.

"Jeff Rooker has identified the problem with rural roads and the fact that there are proportionately more rural roads here and more deaths on our rural roads. Yet it is these roads that have suffered from a lack of investment and we have also seen huge cuts in the rural road network maintenance budget.

"It is accepted that much more can and should be done to make the roads safer in terms of design, identifying accident blackspots and by introducing traffic claming and lighting measures. This will not happen without political will and financial support. It is not good enough to blame individual behaviour.

"It is also clear that Jeff Rooker is part of an anti-rural agenda. However, the failure to recognise that this part of Ireland, like much of the rest of the country, is rural by nature is not an excuse for the under funding of the rural road network that borders on criminal negligence. No-one should accept that it is OK to have rural roads that are in a poor condition or the lack of investment to modernise the rural roads network.

"I also believe that there also needs to be fundamental examination of the relationship between car design, particularly in relation to high-performance vehicles and road deaths." ENDS

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