SLIGO is Ireland’s most dangerous county for road deaths, with the highest rate of fatalities – as Ireland is set for an alarming 16pc hike in lives lost in traffic tragedies this year.
Onaghan, Limerick and Cavan also had high rates of road deaths this year.
Sligo has placed number one for having the highest rate of fatal road collisions this year, according to data.
The county has a rate of more than 8 fatalities per 100,000 population in 2022 so far. That figure is six times higher than last year. In 2021, Sligo had a rate of 1.43.
Monaghan has witnessed a rate of 7.71 fatal collisions per 100,000 population this year, so far. This figure was also 7.71 for 2021, according to data compiled by the Irish Independent and provided by road safety group Parc, the gardaí and Road Safety Authority (RSA).
Limerick had the third highest rate of fatal road collisions in Ireland this year with 6.33 deaths per 100,000 people. This figure is compared to 2.92 last year, underscoring a more than doubling of road deaths for the county.
Sligo Fianna Fáil councilor Donal Gilroy told the Irish Independent he believed the roads in Sligo had been neglected for many years and he felt, despite repeated vows that the roads would be improved, they had not been.
“It’s gross negligence,” Mr. Gilroy said. “Unfortunately, our current Transport Minister is not a fan of roads and wants everyone on bicycles.
“But that’s not feasible along the west coast of Ireland. It’s OK saying, ‘Travel by bike or public transport’, if you have a Dart and the Luas.
“But when you’re in Sligo, with one railway line to Dublin, there is no public transport infrastructure.
“It’s very poor and without proper public transport and proper investment to upgrade our roads, we see lives lost on the roads in Sligo.”
He said the N17 was “long overdue” being upgraded.
The road had been, he said, the scene of “quite a few accidents”. He added that the N15 was a “very bad and windy road” and had been the scene “of a number of fatalities”.
“That’s very serious,” Mr. Gilroy said. “But unfortunately it doesn’t look like the N15 will be upgraded for another 20 years at least. Sligo needs money to invest in roads, to overcome this.”
Monaghan Independent councilor Paudge Connolly said a poor road system had been a “constant concern” for local representatives for years.
“There’s been quite a number of road deaths over the last number of years,” he added.
“We are calling on the State to make the roads safer, to make sure the roads are brought up to standard.
“It’s too late in the day for those who’ve died on the roads, but something has to be done now.
“There were plans for a by-pass from Clontibret to the Border. That was in planning and it ran out and was replanned and redrafted, and it’s back on the shelf again.
“The core road with the most difficulties is the N2. The Minister for Transport or his representatives need to answer the question, why is Monaghan not being prioritized?
“The N2 is a long section of road and it has been chronically underfunded. Yet, several times different taoisigh have paid lip service to crossborder projects.”
Kieran O’Hanlon, Limerick’s deputy mayor and a Fianna Fáil councillor, lost his sister, Maeve, on the road, when she was only 17. Every time he hears about road deaths he remembers the sadness his family felt every Christmas.
“I can tell you, even though it’s almost 70 years since Maeve died, I know that losing a child on the road is particularly, very hard for parents – they never get over it.
“I’ve noticed more speeding and carelessness on the roads in Limerick since Covid.
“We have to have more gardaí doing speed checks and particularly in urban areas.
“Drivers need to have more respect and courtesy for others. They are putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk to get somewhere one minute earlier.”
A total of 138 people have died on Irish roads so far this year – 20 more than for the same period last year.
Parc compiled a detailed analysis of provisional road traffic statistics obtained from both the gardaí and Road Safety Authority (RSA) in advance of the peak Christmas travel season. The group said it was concerned at the disproportionate number of elderly drivers dying in collisions both as motorists and pedestrians.
Park campaigner Susan Gray pointed out that almost half of the total number of deaths on Irish roads were those of pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.
She said the soaring number of road deaths after the easing of Covid-19 lockdowns was proof that garda traffic policing needed even greater resourcing and the Government must commit not only to reforming traffic law but ensuring that existing safety regulations were fully enforced. Her plea came as Ireland marked World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims yesterday.