The father of a girl who died on her way home from practicing for a concert for the Irish Prime Minister is calling on Enda Kenny to bolster his battle to make the road safe for other children.
Liam Fhinneadha lived in Boston for many years. His only child, Leah, 15, of Clynagh, Carraroe, Co. Galway, died on a rural road without a footpath or lighting in Rossaveal on May 1. The road has been the subject of community revulsion for more than two decades. Despite press reports that Leah was the third to die on this road in two years, the father says five have died.
Fhinneadha said he is not 'giving up the fight,' to make the road safe for future generations. In a direct appeal to Enda Kenny, he said: 'As a father yourself help us. Tell Galway County Council to make this road safe now, not next month.'
Talented guitarist Leah had been 'over the moon' she had been selected by her school, Coláiste Cholmcille, in Indreabhán, to play for Kenny at a concert on May 31. But Leah would never make that school concert.
Instead her grieving mother, Noirín, 53, and father, Liam, 58, spent that day begging Kenny to ensure the road was made safe with a footpath and lighting and that no other child would 'die needlessly.'
Kenny gave the family an assurance that the road would be fixed immediately, but despite the Government ring-fencing €3.4million to Galway County Council earlier this month for roads, the family say they have received no news of when the work will be started or completed.
And they are unhappy at local media reports that the council plans to carry out the work via a FÁS scheme. Reliving the night he saw his daughter lying dead on a stretcher, Fhinneadha told the Mail: 'I was in total shock. When you see your daughter on a stretcher covered in blood, well, it's something a parent should never have to see.
'When you see something like that you don't feel anything, you turn to stone.
'You're in another world completely.
‘I was numb. My daughter was standing there, then two seconds later she was gone forever. There was nothing we could do. What parent could face that? But I know she would still be here if that road had been made safe. Why is Galway County Council still stalling? They have the money now. We talked to Enda Kenny, we got them the money.'
Fhinneadha said the council had not been able to do the work before because there was no pot of money. But now he cannot understand 'the delay.' He said: 'I talked to Enda Kenny and he's a lovely man, but I want him to call up Galway County Council to make sure they get the job done.
'Leah was a beautiful girl, she was outgoing. She loved horses and she was loved by everyone. She had a lovely personality.
'She was over the moon that she was picked to play for the Taoiseach.
‘Then we had to meet Enda Kenny on that emotional day and Leah was gone.
'He gave me a solemn promise the path would be done right away. I know that was his intention, but we are still waiting here.' On the night Leah died her father said, she was 'left with no option but to walk in the road, because there was no footpath.' A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: 'This project qualifies for funding from the €50 million allocated to local authorities for works on regional and local roads under the Government's Infrastructure Investment Plan.
'The allocation of €50 million was intended primarily for surface restoration works, but following representations by the Taoiseach, it can now also be used for safety schemes like the one in Rossaveal.' A Government source revealed that Leah's father was accurate that Kenny had indeed expected the money to be used 'immediately' for the road to be improved.
But Galway County Council road chiefs did not reply to our requests for information by email or phone. The county manager also did not reply to an email.
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