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The day we remember the heartbreak and tragedy of road deaths


Pedestrians account for many of the deaths on our roads

Pedestrians account for many of the deaths on our roads

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Pedestrians account for many of the deaths on our roads

This Sunday is World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims. Back in 2005, the UN adopted a resolution which called for governments to mark the third Sunday in November each year as this special remembrance day. It allows us to pause and reflect on the tragedies and heartbreaks.

Since records began, 23,592 people have died on Irish roads. That is roughly the population of Tralee, Co. Kerry.

A further 76,586 have suffered serious, life-changing injuries since we began recording them in 1977. Already this year, more than 160 families, friends and communities have lost a loved one.

It's impossible to put an exact figure on the number of family members, relatives, friends and work colleagues who have been affected but it is estimated that for every death about 100 people are impacted.

When we announced this year's activities around the country to mark Remembrance Day on Sunday, we were joined by Laura Doherty and Michael O'Neill. They represented all those whose lives have been changed forever by road traffic collisions.

Laura, a doctor, was involved in a collision in 2009 which resulted in an acquired brain injury. She suffers from memory loss as a result of the crash. You might know her from the powerful road safety message she recorded for us recently. In it she says that she probably won't remember making the ad. Laura has spoken at educational events, conferences and schools about her own personal experience with an acquired brain injury and is helping us out with our own road safety schools programmes.

Michael O'Neill lost his daughter Fiona (21) and her 23-year-old boyfriend Dominic in a crash outside Drogheda, in 2001. The couple were preparing to travel to Australia for a year on the day of the tragic collision. Michael has recorded a special radio message for World Remembrance Day which is being broadcast today. I didn't know Michael until he called me about his plans to hold the first Remembrance event in Ireland, in Drogheda, a number of years ago. Turns out he knew and grew up with my parents. I wish it wasn't under these tragic circumstances that our paths had to cross and for the two of us to become good friends.

I'll be thinking of Laura, Michael, Fiona and Dominic, and everyone affected by road trauma when I attend the special service that's been planned in Cork on Sunday.

A number of Masses, services and commemorative events have been organised around the country this Sunday to remember the lives that have been lost and changed forever on our roads. A full list of the events is available on www.rsa.ie

In addition, the RSA has set up a 'Wall of Remembrance' on its Facebook page www.facebook.com/RSAireland. This is a place for people to come and share their memories, to light a candle and leave a memorial message for a loved one who has been killed or seriously injured on our roads.

The following activities will mark 'World Day of Remembrance' around the country:

Cork: A Mass in Cork city in the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne, Roman Street, at 11.30am.

Donegal: A special memorial service in St Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal at 12 noon.

Dublin: A service in Clarendon Street Church Dublin (just off Grafton St) at 12:30.

Galway: A special memorial Mass in the Cathedral at 3pm.

Kerry: A special memorial Mass in St Mary's Cathedral Killarney.

Louth: A special memorial Mass in the Augustinian Church, Drogheda.

Mayo: A service in the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castlebar at 12 noon.

Sligo: PARC Road Safety Group will hold their 6th annual remembrance event in the Sligo Southern Hotel, Strandhill Road between 2pm and 4pm.

Westmeath: The Irish Road Victims' Association (IRVA) will hold a special ceremony in Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar at 2pm.

Irish Independent