It has emerged that the road where a 54-year-old woman tragically lost her life in a road collision on New Year’s Eve had been previously earmarked for a pedestrian crossing to improve safety.

Council Chairwoman, Siobhan Currie, originally raised concerns over safety on the Brownhill Link Road in Irvinestown at a meeting with the Department of Infrastructure Roads in early November last year.

Speaking at a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh Council at the Townhall in Enniskillen on Tuesday night Chairwoman Currie said that she hoped that the pedestrian crossing is now “prioritised” and commented that it was “hard not to be annoyed that someone has lost their life”.

Also speaking on the issue on Tuesday night was Council Vice Chairwoman, Diana Armstrong, who said that “poignantly” the proposed crossing on the Brownhill Link Road is to be sited where the collision took place in which Elaine McGarrity lost her life on New Year’s Eve. Councillor Armstrong put on record her condolences to the family of Mrs. McGarrity, who was a pedestrian when she was involved in a collision with a white Toyota Hilux pick-up truck. Councillor Armstrong proposed that the Council write to the Department of Infrastructure Roads to urge them to prioritise the pedestrian crossing on the Brownhill Link Road considering the fatality that had occurred. Her proposal received unanimous support.

The Department of Infrastructure Roads had revealed its document: “Local Transport and Safety Measures, Bridges and Street Lighting draft programme for the Fermanagh and Omagh Council Area for the period 2020-2022” at a Special Meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on November 25 2019.

The Brownhill Link Pedestrian Crossing is one of over 70 projects earmarked for the Western division in the document. However the document was clear that most projects would not be delivered, stating: “You will appreciate that our capacity to deliver schemes within this programme is dictated by availability of funding and based on current funding levels; it will only be possible to deliver a small number of these schemes over the 2020-2022 period.”

The proposed Puffin Crossing on the Brownhill Link Road has an estimated cost of £35,000. The draft programme reveals that the crossing “will improve safety for pedestrians on this busy urban section of A32 Brownhill Link Road. It will assist pedestrians to safely gain access to the town centre, public car parks, public toilets and bus stops”.

On December 13, 2019 the Council had written to the Department of Infrastructure to express its “disappointment that no upgrade works had been undertaken” on any part of the A32 road between Enniskillen and Omagh.

In their response the Department of Infrastructure refereed to a number of road improvements that had been made dating back to 2013 but reiterated the budget constraints it was under, with the Permanent Secretary, Katrina Gidfrey writing: “I know your Councillors fully understand the limitations within which we work at present. At present we simply do not currently have the funding to deliver further improvement works on the A32. If funding becomes available, then it will be for ministers to decide on the relative priority of the many infrastructure projects that your Council and others have identified as important.”