Protesters block Donegal road

 

Taxi drivers, coach operators and business people blocked the main road through west Donegal yesterday in protest over the poor condition of a section of the N56 which they described as "one large crater of potholes".

The road was blocked in both Ardara and Glenties for about an 1½ hours from 8 a.m. About 30 cars and buses were parked across the road in both towns.

Glenties Traders' Association and the Ardara parish council called for urgent funding to upgrade a six-mile stretch of road connecting the towns.

"We have been lobbying for years and we are now at our wits end. Every year we are told money is going to be put into it, but the money just seems to disappear," said Mr Francis Brennan, chairman of Glenties Traders' Association. Some work has been carried out on sections of the N56, which runs from Donegal town around the west of the county and back into Letterkenny, but the stretch from Ardara to Glenties is in a particularly bad state.

Mr Stephen McCahill, chairman of the Ardara Parish Council, said the side of the road was littered with hubcaps from people driving into large potholes.

There were ridges where the surface of the road had completely broken up and there was also a serious problem of subsidence, he said.

"Because the road is subsiding in places, coach drivers have to move out onto the road and it is dangerous. Cars and buses are getting damaged and coach drivers are saying they don't want to use the road any longer," he said.

Children from Ardara are taken to a comprehensive school in Glenties by coach and there are a number of other private bus companies in the area. The route also carries a significant amount of heavy vehicles, particularly from the port of Killybegs. "All we want is a basic road, we are not asking for a motorway," said Mr McCahill.

Mr Brennan said the road was now "one large crater of potholes" as no proper repair job had been done in years. Donegal County Council pointed out that as a national secondary road, the National Roads Authority is responsible for allocating funding, but a spokesman said the council was "keenly aware of the condition of the N56".