Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire, Teachta Ross. Is é seo Seachtain na Gaeilge, so úsáidfidh mé cúpla focal Gaeilge. I am glad the Minister is in the Chamber as I highlight the urgent need to upgrade the N5 national primary route from Dublin to Westport, particularly between the villages of Termonbarry and Ballaghaderreen in County Roscommon. Along this stretch, numerous accidents have occurred. There has been much loss of life over the past 30 years.
Many of my constituents and many of the people along the route have been lobbying me very strongly on this issue for a long period of time. Crossing the River Shannon, one enters the village of Termonbarry. It is a village that has grown hugely in recent years. The volume of traffic coming through that village is highly significant. The difficulty is that much of that traffic is travelling at very high speed. It is a danger to pedestrians, cyclists and others. Let us move about eight miles up the road to a place called Scramogue Cross. It is a well-known landmark. Along this route, there have been many accidents. There is an accident almost weekly, and that is not an exaggeration. It is a staggered crossroads.
Coming along the N5, one meets a major regional road. It takes traffic coming from the north. That traffic comes through Ballinamore, Carrick-on-Shannon, Roosky and then crosses the N5 and goes down towards Athlone and the south if it is going that way. The junction is very busy. There have been numerous accidents in this location. It would not be an exaggeration to say that many people are scared to death driving through Scramogue Cross. It is a real death trap and urgent attention is needed to address this situation. There are also major visibility problems in the village of Frenchpark. Motorists take their lives in their hands on a daily basis trying to negotiate dangerous junctions on the main N5, while there are accident black spots near Tulsk village. There is a school located in that village as well.
I have frequently called on the Taoiseach to include the upgrading of the N4 between Mullingar right up to Donegal through Longford and Sligo into a motorway, as well as upgrading the N5 between Scramogue and Ballaghaderreen, in the capital programme. It is essential that both of those roads are brought into the capital programme for 2017 as they are vital infrastructural links to the west. It is vital to upgrade those routes as they have been severely neglected. Apart from the Galway road, there is no motorway to most of the west or north west, where in excess of 500,000 people live.
I call for a clear commitment that the N4 and N5 be included in the capital programme for 2017. The glaring omission of funding from the N4 and N5 from the much-lauded rural revitalisation plan was only one of the problems with the plan. We see this with regard to developing rural Ireland. We must have both of those roads made safe in the first instance and then developed properly. I appeal to the Minister to deal first with the short-term issues of safety and, in the long term, to use all of his influence to get both the N5 and the N4 into the capital programme of 2017.