Civil servant says reducing limit outside Londonderry schools will be looked at

The narrow roadway at Groarty Integrated Primary School. DER0615-103KM
The narrow roadway at Groarty Integrated Primary School. DER0615-103KM

A top civil servant says Department of Infrastructure officials will look at reducing the speed limit from 60 miles per hour to 20 on a country road that runs past two primary schools on the outskirts of Londonderry, saying similar issues flagged up in the past hadn’t been acted on and tragedy had subsequently ensued.

DI Deputy Secretary John McGrath told People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann he wasn’t personally aware of the situation on the Coshquinn Road, where traffic speeding past Groarty Integrated Primary School and Gaelscoil Na Daróige has been a source of concern for parents, but that he was aware of similar issues elsewhere.

“I am familiar with issues like that,” said Mr McGrath.

“I can recall from my previous post in the Department of Education a tragic incident with a family who were walking to school in the North Eastern Board area. The issue had been highlighted but not dealt with, and a young child was knocked down and killed on a narrow country road. These things can happen, so we are happy to take the issue away and have a look.”

Mr McCann said the situation at Ballymagroarty is intolerable and needs to be addressed.

“I can honestly say that when you go to those schools at picking-up time, as I have done, it is really scary.

“At one of them, on the Coshquin Road in Derry, there is a 60 mph limit on what is a relatively narrow road.

“It seems so simple that what should be done there is that there should be a 20 mph limit

- the slogan ‘20 is Plenty’ has been put up by community groups - or speed bumps and, crucially, a parking bay for parents when they come to pick up their children. It is a semi-rural area, so parents have to come. It is an absolute nightmare. It is a fairly narrow road. The limit is 60 mph.

“When parents pull in, they have to put the inside wheels up on a grass verge to park and then get their kids out. If you were to watch that on a rainy day, believe you me, you would wonder, ‘What is happening? Why is something not done about this?’”