Over a thousand people have now signed petitions calling for a safe passage crossing between Markethill and Gosford Forest Park after a 12-year-old schoolboy made an impassioned plea to the powers-that-be.
Rhys Ryans – a pupil at Markethill High School – wrote to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council calling for a crossing so he, his friends and other children in the town could cross safely to Gosford Forest Park to enjoy the new bike trails and other facilities.
Armagh I reported details of the letter on Friday evening and there was a huge response.
Rhys’ mum Simone also launched an online petition and encouraged people to get behind the campaign and sign.
She has not been disappointed with the response to date, which has been truly incredible, with paper copies of the petition now appearing in local shops, including JD Hunter’s, Time Out Cafe, Markethill Barber Shop, Dolphin Takeway, Nibblers , Mullen’s Spar, Markethill, The Buttery and the Victoria Bar.
Simone told Armagh I tonight (Monday) : “I am proud of the people of Markethill and so grateful for their support.
“I encouraged everyone in Markethill to sign this petition and I thank everyone who has already taken the time to sign and ask others who have not yet to do so.
“Markethill High School are on board too and so proud of Rhys.
“We have the support of local councillors and in total altogether we have 1000 signatures!”
When the petition it complete, Rhys will present it to Mr Roger Wilson, chief executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
Simone hopes the councillors will then back the campaign and lobby for something to be done.
She recognises that it will be a battle but they are in it for the long haul.
One local resident had made such calls in writing to the Department of Infrastructure in October and got a response which indicated that it was highly unlikely.
It stated: “The area is managed by ABC Council and as such any intensification of use should ideally be subject to a safe means of access for both motorists and pedestrians.
“I have assessed the location and can advise that DfI has no plans to promote a scheme at the location to essentially serve a private access; however, I will look at the possibility of some low cost work which may ease the problem and if anything appropriate is identified I will then arranged to have the work completed.”
Simone – who was out and about on Monday collecting more signatures – said: “We certainly have the determination to push this forward.
“When it comes to children’s safety you cannot put a price on that.
“The Markethill Road is a death-trap for anyone trying to cross – both adults and children – given the volume and speed of traffic. There’s no point waiting until there’s a tragedy to do something. Something must be done now.
“We intend to keep going with this campaign. If enough people lend their support and rally behind us they will be forced to sit up and listen to the people. Markethill people deserve this and we will accept nothing less.”
People can lend their voices to the campaign by signing the petitions available throughout the town. You can also show your support by signing on line. Simply click on the petition link here and add your name.