The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council has described the work of Ballymoney Road Safety Committee as ‘extraordinary’.
Speaking at the launch of an exhibition in the Town Hall last Monday to mark 50 years since the formation of the committee, Alderman Maura Hickey, praised the campaigning efforts of a group whose achievements she said were significant. “This is an amazing exhibition and what we see here today has profiled the work undertaken by you in the last 50 years with very little funding,” the Mayor said. “Ballymoney Road Safety committee has helped make the roads safer for all and I wish you every success in the future.”
Another speaker, North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey, himself a schoolboy member, said there was a sense of irony about the day in light of the tragedy that claimed the life of a young man several hours earlier following a collision near Londonderry.
Quoting figures from the formation of the committee in 1966 Mr Storey said there had been 248 deaths. Last year 74 people were killed and 79 people lost their lives in 2014. And while the statistics showed how far things had progressed there was still much to do, he felt.
“This exhibition is an example and a reminder of the important issues the committee has addressed and campaigned for down the years and that’s due to the hard work of many,” Mr Storey said.
The DUP representative paid tribute to the late Mrs Molly Holmes, a stalwart of the committee, saying she was an institution in the town and her legacy and her memory would live on.
Inspector Rosie Leech, Road Policy Development PSNI, said when she looked around the room at those present she felt humbled.
“We are getting paid to do this work while you are all volunteers trying to make the roads safer for the community. We greatly appreciate the influence you can bring to bear on the people you work with, live with and socialise with.
“Road Safety is an issue that touches everyone and there is always a tragedy waiting to happen every day on our roads,” she said.
Inspector Leech praised the new random breath test powers to target drink drivers describing it as “brilliant.”
“We are about enforcement whereas you are about sending a message. We hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas,” she added.
Officers from Roads Policing and Bike Safe who have been strong in their support of the committee down the years were present to promote the drink and drive campaign as well as offering general advice on road safety.
The three-day event was set up by two leading members of the committee, Sam Knox, and Joan Kinnaird who received praise for their efforts from the chairman Tom McKeown. Mr McKeown also thanked local historian Peter Thompson for providing items worn and used by the former RUC when patrolling the roads.
Mr Knox said he was encouraged by the turn out for the opening welcoming several founder members as well as representatives from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, former school teachers, public representatives and the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie.
Photographs and articles from local newspapers stirred many memories for visitors and provided a reminder of the sterling work carried out by the committee down the years.