When I was of primary school age I spent the summer holidays travelling the country with my grandad who was a lorry driver.
I remember an accident once at Moneynick on the A6 and it seemed an eternity before we got home.
I had little patience then (and probably less now) but my grandad offered comfort by telling me that “plans were in place to extend the M2 to Toome and beyond so delays will soon be a thing of the past”.
That was just over 40 years ago!
Thankfully, after numerous false starts over the past decades, work on a dual carriageway is now under way, but it has been delayed by a legal challenge by environmentalist Chris Murphy, a man from England who has appointed himself, with no mandate, as Mid Ulster’s eco warrior.
Murphy’s challenge has delayed work and no doubt cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds. He claims to have large support from the people of Mid Ulster but there is little evidence of that.
I didn’t recognise any of the ‘tree-hugging half dozen’ who were with him outside the Court of Appeal last week.
In the News Letter (September 20) it’s reported that Murphy said: “We have a shared vision to develop the economy of Mid Ulster through businesses that rely on the sustainable development of the unique cultural and natural heritage of Lough Beg.”
What does that even mean in reality?
And I’m sure Seamus Heaney’s poetry legacy will survive the building of a dual carriageway. The left wing cultural elite who are completely out of touch with the businesses of Mid Ulster will consider me a philistine but I can live with that.
As a lifelong resident of Mid Ulster I can assure Murphy that there is no shortage of wetlands that the swans can relocate to.
When the construction starts I’m sure they are intelligent enough to fly off to pastures new.
Murphy also said last week, on television, that his legal challenge has taken up a year of his life. Well, I know numerous, decent, hard-working people, who have spent hundreds of hours of misery, over decades, stuck in traffic jams on the A6 – and if Murphy had his way their misery would continue unabated!
I suggest that Murphy and his small band of friends stand along the edge of the A6 any evening around 5pm and see what support they have. Maybe they could put their case to the motorists when the traffic inevitably grinds to a halt. I’ve a feeling they could be advised to float away down the Bann with their beloved swans.
Finally, if the A6 dualling project does get completed, it will be no thanks to the politicians of this country who for decades have made empty election promises about the scheme.
However, I’ve no doubt that on opening day, politicians from all sides, bedecked in orange (or maybe green) safety vests and helmets, will be lining up to cut ribbons and take ill-deserved credit.
Mark Hamilton, Coagh, Co Tyrone