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'They chose dead over living'

A BYPASS project that has been the subject of an 11-year campaign finally hit a dead end yesterday.

The Slane bypass was one of 47 major roads projects already put on hold by the Government last year following a spending review.

And a Bord Pleanala ruling yesterday dashed any lingering hopes of locals in the Meath village that the bypass would eventually be built.

Only a handful of major projects are still going through the Bord Pleanala process -- the Adare bypass, Leitirmacaward to Glenties, Dingle to Anascaul, Moycullen bypass and Westport to Mulranny.

These too will also be officially suspended indefinitely.

Yesterday the Slane bypass plan was thrown out after the board ruled it would interfere with the UNESCO Bru na Boinne world heritage site, which includes Newgrange.

But furious locals, who have been campaigning for a bypass since the death of a toddler in 2001, vented their anger at the decision.

"They chose the dead over the living," said the principal of the local school Elizabeth Sheridan.

A steep incline on both sides of the River Boyne, combined with a sharp turn on to a bridge, has proved difficult for lorry drivers heading towards Dublin.

Many fatal crashes have occurred after the long-distance lorries develop what is known as "hot brakes", effectively brake failure, coming down the incline through the village .

Toddler

Two-year-old David Garvey was the last to die in 2001 when a runaway truck ran over the car being driven by his mother and the car in front being driven by his father. The toddler's death, one of 22 in as many years, sparked the bypass campaign.

Residents said yesterday that it is only a matter of time before another life is lost on the road.

The children of St Patrick's national school did a survey of the traffic passing their school on the northern side of the village and, according to Principal Sheridan, "there were up to 30 trucks in a five- minute period".

But former Attorney General John Rogers, who lives near the buffer zone for the heritage centre, was one of the objectors to the bypass plan.

An archaeological survey commissioned by Mr Rogers, who was Attorney General from 1984-1987, found a previously unrecorded "impressively large earthwork", believed to be part of the outer defences of an early medieval royal stronghold, at Knowth near his home.

An Bord Pleanala yesterday said the proposed development would have a detrimental impact on the rural character, cultural amenity and archaeological heritage of the Bru na Boinne archaeological complex.

Irish Independent