Families who have lost loved ones on the A1 carriageway have stepped up their campaign to secure improvements to prevent any further tragedy along this notorious road.
Over 5,500 people have now signed a petition, launched alongside a dedicated Facebook page aptly named: A1:How Many Must Die?
That is the question that grieving friends and families like Monica Heaney – who lost her son Karl in a tragic collision in May – are asking of the powers-that-be.
Essentially they want to know how many more people must die on this road before someone steps up, takes responsibility and puts a precious human life ahead of politics, pounds and pence.
Monica Heaney spoke to Armagh I last month after two more lives were lost, saying politicians and civil servants must shoulder some of the blame for these deaths.
Forty-seven-year-old Anna Dodds and her stepfather, Raymond Halliday (87), died when the car they were in was involved in a collision with another car and a lorry on a Friday afternoon.
Their tragic loss came less than five months after Monica lost her son Karl, 27, who died after a collision between Dromore and Banbridge, as he travelled back from training with Newry Mitchels GFC to his home in Carryduff.
Tragically, the few short intervening months have sadly borne proof that Karl’s death has not been the last, nor will it be, so grossly unfair and unnecessary, because nothing has been done.
Monica’s family – and the many others like them – are angry that this should be the case.
They feel priority must be given to the installation of a central safety barrier along the A1, with all crossing points in the central reserve along this stretch of the A1 closed permanently.
Work started seven years ago on an eight-stage plan to deliver this. And yet, somewhat incomprehensibly, only two stages have been completed, with more families thrust into grief through inaction…
Monica has called on everyone to show their support now, to stand up and be counted and demand that action be taken.
Initially, it was her own family which began the petition and Facebook page, but others like them have come on board as the campaign gains momentum.
“Other families who have lost loved ones on this road are getting in touch, offering support and wanting to get involved which is great.
“We felt a Facebook page and petition was the best way to go as we were finding it difficult to get a response from the Department of Infrastructure.
“Since 2007, they seem to issue the same statement over and over which doesn’t really tell us anything.
“So we decided the best thing would be to get as many people behind this and prove how many people want this road upgraded.”
The response, says Monica, speaks for itself.
In just 24 hours, the petition had garnered over 5,000 signatures.
It is a number which is growing hourly.
And having previously received no political contact in relation to their calls, there has been some movement in that regard too – but again it falls far short of the mark.
“We have had some political response from local politicians in the Newry area – which is where we are from – but I want to stress this is not just an issue for the Newry area,” explained Monica.
“I would appeal to politicians in every area to show their support.
“This road services so many areas, from Newry and the surrounding area to Belfast and beyond, and the politicians in these areas should be voicing their concern and demanding this road is safe for their constituents to use.
“Because it is not a case of ‘if this happens again’ but ‘when this happens again’.”
We at Armagh I are lending our full support to the families and are joining them in asking you to show your support – such a simple thing to do.
“Our next step is to continue to promote this petition,” added Monica.
“We need 10 000 signatures to get a response and 100,000 signatures to have the issue debated. This is our aim.
“We will be attending local events to inform people of our campaign.
“We are imploring people if they or anyone they know use this road to go on the Facebook page ‘A1:How Many Must Die’, like and follow the page, so they will receive notifications, share any stories about this road and, of course, most importantly, sign the petition.
“Our sole aim is to get this road upgraded and we will not stop until this happens.”