Saturday 26 May 2018

'Enough is enough' - Hundreds of angry parents protest over footpath they claim is putting children's lives at risk

Charlie Weston pictured at a peaceful protest in Donabate over construction traffic risks to children
Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Charlie Weston pictured at a peaceful protest in Donabate over construction traffic risks to children Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Maria and Alex (3) Regan Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Peaceful protest in Donabate over construction traffic risks to children Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Peaceful protest in Donabate over construction traffic risks to children Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Hundreds of angry parents marched in appalling conditions through the streets of Donabate today in protest over a footpath they claim is putting their children’s lives at risk.

Around 250 demonstrators, including children and grandparents, braved strong winds and rain as they walked along Portrane Road in the north county Dublin town to highlight their concerns.

Sadhbh Lundberg (10) from St.Patricks National School Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Sadhbh Lundberg (10) from St.Patricks National School Pic: Justin Farrelly.

They say the footpath leading to two local primary schools is treacherously narrow and forces children onto the road as they walk to school amid heavy traffic.

According to local mother-of-two Corina Johnston, (46), the footpath measures just .7 metres wide even though the minimum standard for footpaths is 1.8m.

The result is that many of the 800 children attending the local schools are being forced onto the road which is inundated with lorries and other heavy traffic from two local construction sites, Ms Johnston told Independent.ie

"A child was hit by a van wing mirror in November, which sparked outrage," she said.

"We understand the need for house construction but there are serious risks to children travelling to and from school," she said of a housing development under construction in the area.

Ms Johnston, whose seven-year-old son Rián attends the local boys school, said she, like other parents, won’t allow their children on the footpath out of fear they will be struck by passing traffic.

Charlie Weston Pic: Justin Farrelly.
Charlie Weston Pic: Justin Farrelly.

Consequently, the area around the schools is inundated with even more traffic from parents who are forced to drive their children to and from school even though they live just a short walking distance away.

"It’s an awful worry for so many parents out here," she said.

The protest, organised by the local Donabate Portrane Community Council and local residents associations, comes after parents complained to Fingal County Council and other parties for months to address their concerns and install a traffic management plan that ensures children’s safety.

But nothing has been done to date, Ms Johnston said.

"People took time off work today to come to the protest because they are so angry," she said.

A spokesman for Fingal County Council said the Donabate Distributor Road – which is currently under construction – will greatly improve access to Donabate and the neighbouring community of Portrane when it is completed next year.

"There are construction traffic restrictions during school opening and closing times associated with the permission for the National Forensic Mental Hospital, however similar conditions were excluded from other planning permissions by An Bord Pleanála," the spokesman said of construction also currently underway for the new mental health centre at the site of St Ita’s Mental Hospital in Portrane.

"The Council did meet with the local community last December and outlined our investment proposals for the area which have a particular focus on road and amenity improvements. This commitment was confirmed by the Council on adoption of the Donabate Local Area Plan in March 2016," he said.

"An action plan identifying the key infrastructure requirements including improved pedestrian routes for the town was prepared. The delivery of these key actions remains a priority for the council and there is ongoing engagement with key stakeholders and landowners in order to advance the works required."

However, Ms Johnston said local residents are fed up waiting and are concerned that a child will be killed or seriously injured in the meantime.

"Enough is enough," she said.  

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