Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Council examining options to alleviate Slieve Gullion parking

Following on from last week’s Examiner coverage of traffic chaos at Slieve Gullion Forest Park resulting from increased visitor numbers over the Easter period, Newry, Mourne and Down Council responded with the following statement: “The Council apologises for any inconvenience caused to residents in relation to cars parked on the Wood Road and surrounding areas.  Additional staff were employed over the Easter period but they were inundated due to the increased visitor numbers.  The situation was also made more challenging due to the fact that Forestry Service were unable to open the scenic drive on account of felling of trees.”

The spokesperson added that the Council is “currently looking at other options” in an attempt to alleviate the parking shortage at Slieve Gullion.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein councillor Mickey Larkin recently met with affected residents on the Wood Road to hear their concerns.

“The residents of the Wood Road, which is at the exit to Slieve Gullion Courtyard, found themselves besieged by day trippers who parked and abandoned their cars the full length of the road over the Easter weekend and into the following week,” Councillor Larkin explained.

“Due to the car park at the Courtyard being full and the Forest Drive being closed, the hundreds of visitors spilled out onto the surrounding roads to park their vehicles.  The resulting chaos left the residents of the area hemmed into their homes. Some came out to find cars blocking entrances and even some parked on their driveways.

“Although I can understand the frustration of travellers when they have come a distance, many with children on board, and find it difficult to park, there is no excuse for the blocking of driveways, field entrances and even the road.

“The main road from Newry to Forkhill was at a standstill in both directions at the entrance to Slieve Gullion due to cars queuing. This in itself was a very dangerous situation as was the number of families with small children and buggies walking the roads.”

Councillor Larkin says he raised the issue with the head of the new Council, Liam Hannaway, who, he said, “reacted quickly by providing more staff with radios to manage the entrance, exit and car park”.

“I also spoke with the Community Policing Team for the area in relation to the need to keep the Wood Road free from parked cars. They provided police cones for the length of the road and assured me that they will respond quickly to any obstruction of the roads,” he added.

Councillor Larkin has called on Newry, Mourne and Down Council to organize a meeting of relevant agencies “to better prepare” for such incidents in the future.

“At this point I must also state that the residents are fully supportive of the developments at Slieve Gullion and welcome the opening up of such a beautiful area to visitors.  Their only request is that it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on their daily lives,” he added.