An Armagh man has hit out at inaction over the notorious ‘tunnel’ area of the city, which, despite being locked off, has become a hot-bed of litter and vermin.
The tunnel, which is a pedestrian underpass going under the Friary Road, received a £24,000 facelift in 2016 that involved the removal of the steps at the Emania Terrace entry point and the installation of a new fenced area.
The changes were designed to complement an alley-gating scheme which was completed the year before.
The area was known locally as a magnet for anti-social behaviour, with the work coming after years of complaints by residents.
However, despite the investment and the locking of the gates – which made the tunnel inaccessible – for locals, the problems haven’t gone away.
Malachy J Toal, a resident in the area, contacted Armagh I expressing his concerns around the impact that the tunnel is having on the local community.
He said that it has been a “major, ongoing problem” and, despite pleas to a local MLA, there has been no action on the issue.
Said Malachy: “It’s an ongoing problem and is of no benefit to anybody. It’s not being used. I went to the local MLA and I thought there could have been some action, but to no avail.”
He believes that the authorities have washed their hands of their area, adding: “There’s three sets of very expensive gates on it, and one I can see is lying open.
“There’s vermin now and old age pensioners live in some of those houses. My wife’s sister lives on that row [Emania Terrace] and she has to keep all the doors closed because of the vermin gathering.”
He adds that children from nearby schools are “throwing papers and their leftovers into the tunnel which is creating the problem with the vermin”.
Anti-social behaviour still appears to be an issue in the area, as Malachy says that youths continue to gather; his sister-in-law saw her front door damaged, which resulted in a broken panel.
Malachy says that the area is an “unsightly” reflection on Armagh, especially due to the tunnel’s proximity to the Athletic Grounds, which sees thousands converging on the area on match days.
He explained: “The whole street to the tunnel is lined with cars. For matches you could have thousands of people and though they don’t all come that way, it’s an eyesore for people from other counties to be looking at.”
Malachy says that everybody he knows in the area wants the tunnel filled in, as it simply “doesn’t serve any purpose”.
He said: “The answer is to remove the railings, store them in the tunnel, fill the rest of the open spaces with clay and plant a few trees. That would solve the whole problem.”
When Armagh I contacted the Department for Infrastructure, we were directed to Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and told that the removal of litter was a council function.
ABC Borough Council have not responded to a request for comment as of the time of publishing.