Northern Ireland

Malone Road, south Belfast: Safety measure work begins

Work began to reinstate safety measures at the fatal accident black spot earlier this week
Image caption Work began to reinstate safety measures at the fatal accident black spot earlier this week

Work has begun to reinstate safety measures at a fatal accident blackspot on a main road in Belfast.

A crash barrier had been in place at Sans Souci Park on the Malone Road following a fatal crash in 1977.

It was removed three weeks before Enda Dolan, from Tyrone, died after he was hit by a van last October as he returned to his student accommodation.

Last month, the Department for Regional Development (DRD) announced it was going to reinstate the barrier.

Image caption Enda Dolan was making his way back to student accommodation at the time of the accident

Since Enda Dolan's death, his family, students at Queen's University, where the 18-year-old was studying, and politicians have all called for the barrier to be reinstated.

The Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy gave a ministerial briefing to the DRD committee on Wednesday.

He said that it was his understanding that work had started in the last couple of days.

"Having met the family, that was a very considerable experience, I took a personal decision on that, that I wanted to see if by that action it would at least give the family some comfort," Mr Kennedy said.

Image caption Enda Dolan's father, Peter Dolan, had called for safety measures to be reinstated following his son's death

The minister said he had instigated an independent review of what had happened and taken advice about any other measures that needed to be put in place.

Dr Andrew Murray from DRD also appeared before the committee and briefed MLAs on the department's safety barrier replacement policy.

He said the Malone Road barrier was assessed to be "in a hazardous condition" in 2011 and removed in October 2014.

Mr Murray added that there had been no public concern raised about the removal of the barrier until media coverage following Mr Dolan's death.

He also told MLAs he believed the correspondence on the matter demonstrates "people did take a conscientious approach to this barrier, whether it should be removed or not, or replaced".

Paula Johnson is a resident in Sans Souci Park.

Image caption Local resident Paula Johnson said she felt a "bit safer" knowing the road safety works were being done

She said residents had been sorry to see it go and described what happened to Enda Dolan as a "terrible tragedy".

'Relief'

"It just makes you feel that wee bit safer," she said.

"I have two young children and there are a lot of students who go up and down this road as well, so it's just a relief that it's back and hopefully we won't have anything else happen again.

"It was a very, very sad thing that somebody had just started university."

SDLP councillor Declan Boyle had launched a petition to have the barrier reinstated.

He said he was relieved that work had started but said his relief was "peppered with sadness" that it had taken the loss of a life before the work began.

The barrier will not be replaced like-for-like. The kerb will be raised to deflect any traffic away from the pavement and a new waist-high fence will also be built.

Image caption Enda Dolan died at the same spot where two female students lost their lives in 1977

The Department for Regional Development said it expected the work to last between 10 and 12 days at an estimated cost of £18,000.

It emerged following Enda Dolan's death that an original crash barrier had been removed, even though the Roads Service could not find out why it had been put there in the first place.

It had been in place following a fatal crash in 1977.

According to a newspaper report from 1977, the barrier was erected at the bend following the death of two students in a car accident.

The barrier was later removed and not replaced.

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