Political representatives in Lagan Valley have said lessons must be learned after roadworks caused disruption to Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade in Moira.
Traffic disruption due to resurfacing work being carried out on the village’s Main Street meant some people, including the buglers who had been due to play the Last Post, missed the act of remembrance, while others were unable to make it to services at local churches.
One disgruntled resident, who didn’t want to be named, told the Ulster Star: “Quite a number of people were unable to get to the Remembrance Sunday parade, including the official buglers, because of the traffic chaos. There were also a lot of folk caught up in the traffic who couldn’t get through Moira to church services in Lisburn.”
He continued: “You would think there should be a process with road closure notices that takes into account other events, particularly on Remembrance Sunday. Surely another day would have been more appropriate to carry out the work.
“The minister mentioned that the roadworks were supposed to be finished by 9am, but at 10.30am they were painting the white lines and then after the parade they still had some tarmacing to do.”
Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he’s concerned by what happened in the village on Sunday and has raised the matter with TransportNI.
“Whilst I welcome the much needed resurfacing works that are underway in Main Street and appreciate that doing this work at the weekend minimises disruption to traffic in an already congested village at peak traffic times, I am concerned about what happened on Sunday,” he said.
“I have therefore raised this matter with TransportNI and sought an explanation as to why the work on Sunday was not suspended for say a one hour period to allow the remembrance event to take place without disruption and to enable everyone wishing to attend or take part to be in their place on time.
“I am told that the traffic delays not only prevented some people from attending the Moira event but also delayed others who were travelling to similar remembrance events in local towns.
“Remembrance is important to many people within our local community and I do hope that lessons will be drawn from this and that contingency arrangements are put in place to avoid impeding attendance at remembrance events in future.”
His party colleague, Paul Givan MLA also called for lessons to be learned following Sunday’s disruption.
“I have been contacted by several individuals who were inconvenienced by works being carried out in Moira on Remembrance Sunday to the extent that they were unable to be present at the parade,” he commented.
“I understand the buglers who were to attend the parade and play an important role were also adversely affected.
“The importance of remembering the sacrifice of members of the Armed Forces is recognised widely across our district, however members of the public being impacted by delays as a result of roadworks is not acceptable at any time let alone on such an important day in the year.
“This matter has been raised with TransportNI who carried out a series of works across the wider area on Remembrance Sunday and lessons must be learned for future dates and events to make sure worshipers and those attending and taking part in remembrance parades are given appropriate access.”
Responding to complaints about the disruption, a Department for Infrastructure spokesman said the roadworks had been hit by “an unforeseen delay.”
Stressing that the resurfacing of the village’s Main Street has been a priority scheme for some considerable time, he said the work had been programmed to cause “minimum disruption”.
“Continually delayed by the need to upgrade utility equipment, the scheme was programmed to commence straight after cable upgrade works by Northern Ireland Electricity. Intended to be complete before Christmas and done overnight using temporary traffic control the works have been programmed to cause minimum disruption to one of the busiest roads within Lisburn and Castlereagh section,” the spokesman explained.
“The works on Sunday were due to be complete by 8am, but due to an unforeseen delay in switching the traffic signals off at Meeting Street the works ran over. Although the main carriageway surfacing was complete in time for the parade moving off at 10am there was still some tidying up to be finished. However, the contractor moved all the plant and machinery off the main road and ceased all activity until the parade had passed.
“The whole operation was complete and the road clear of all works by 11.30am,” he added.