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Thursday 21 August 2014

Road safety unravelling before our eyes, says Byrne

Alyson Henry

Published 30/06/2014 | 02:30

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Gay Byrne said the number of deaths on Irish roads was creeping back up due to a lack of garda resources
Gay Byrne said the number of deaths on Irish roads was creeping back up due to a lack of garda resources
Garda at scene of accident on M4 where four people, including a girl (10), died. Photo: Tony Gavin
Queenent Esezbor,

ROAD safety chiefs have appealed to drivers to stem the carnage after six lives were lost on Ireland's roads since last Thursday.

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Two children and four adults lost their lives in four accidents that have shocked their communities.

The worrying spike in fatalities has prompted the chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne to claim that "road safety in Ireland is unravelling before our very eyes".

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Byrne said the number of deaths on Irish roads was creeping back up due to a lack of garda resources.

The "huge progress" we've made in Irish road safety in recent years is now at stake as a result, he warned.

The latest death was 84-year-old Tom McCaffrey from Scotstown in Co Monaghan, whose car left the road, hit a ditch and then collided with an oncoming vehicle at around noon on Saturday.

That tragedy came just hours after a head-on crash in Westmeath that claimed four lives.

Ten-year-old Jessica Jeeti was travelling from Dublin back to her home in Clonbalt Woods, Co Longford, with her mother Pat and two other passengers when the car they were travelling in collided with a Jeep on the N4 Dublin-to-Sligo road near Portnashangan at around 7.45am.

The three women and little girl were all pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Jeep, a man in his 50s, was taken to Mullingar General Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and shock.

The mother and daughter had been with family friends Queenent 'Queen' Esezbor and Fanny Oraweme Akenbor, two sisters in their 40s, at the time of the crash. The group was travelling back from an all-night vigil at a new church in Finglas in Dublin.

Yesterday members of the local community gathered together in Queenent's house to offer their condolences to her husband Kingsley.

Father Brendan O'Sullivan, of St Mel's Cathedral in Longford, led prayers as the family and friends struggled to come to terms with the loss.

Last night Fr O' Sullivan described the deaths as "devastating for the families and for the community as a whole".

"All three women were mothers. Everyone is thinking of them and their families have our full support," he said.

The women were originally from Nigeria but had been living in Ireland for several years. Jessica was a student at the Gaelscoil in Longford and leaves behind her three brothers.

Queenent and Fanny both have children attending Scoil Emer in Longford.

Preparations are now under way in both schools to provide support for Jessica's siblings and classmates.

Last Thursday, a horrific accident in west Cork claimed the life of eight-year-old Zoe Scannell, who was on holiday with her family at the time.

Including the tragic deaths of Zoe and Jessica, 11 children have died on Irish roads in the past six months, which is a dramatic increase from last year in which seven children died in car accidents during a 12-month period.

Brian Farrell of the Road Safety Authority called the increase in child fatalities "extremely concerning" and reminded people to take extra care on the roads during the summer months.

"It's the most traditionally dangerous time of year for drivers due to a combination of more people travelling, more bikers, more tourists and the good weather. These risky factors mean people need to be extremely careful."

Irish Independent

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