Arthritis sufferer claims €800m road will damage her health

A MOTHER-OF-TWO with a debilitating illness moved out of a Limerick suburb to the countryside because the air quality would be better for her health.

But the day she collected the keys to her rural idyll, she was horrified to discover that a €800 million motorway was to be built at the bottom of her garden.

Maeve Smyth, who has rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammation of the joints), told a Bord Pleanála oral hearing yesterday her disease can reduce life expectancy by 10 years, although modern medicine was trying to improve that.

She said she moved to Castleroberts, Adare, because the air quality would be much cleaner than the Limerick suburbs.

The 44-year-old submitted evidence from the American Thoracic Society’s international conference in 2006 which found people with a number of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, were at an increased risk of premature death when exposed to air pollution.

Ms Smyth told Bord Pleanála inspector Danny O’Connor that the findings, which were covered by Science Daily, showed that even relatively small increases in exposure to air pollution could increase the risk of premature death by up to 27%.

Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard University, told a US conference that the results of a study strengthened evidence that breathing in particle pollution — such as from exhaust fumes — was associated with people with certain diseases dying sooner.

Ms Smyth also presented the hearing at the Charleville Park Hotel with further medical research which claimed that people who lived within 50 metres of major primary roads also had a 31% increased chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

“If this motorway is built outside our home I will certainly have to consider moving again.

“My life is at risk and my children cannot afford to be without their stay-at-home mum.”

Her husband Bryan, a transport expert who represents more than 40 objectors living in the Adare area, said the proposed route around Adare was 50% longer than one previously chosen in 2005.

He said this would almost certainly lead to more people taking a shortcut “rat run” through Adare on the N21. “I believe this route is a bad choice and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The oral hearing, which is expected to continue for at least a week, will hear submissions today from experts representing the people of Buttevant.

The NRA has said the town doesn’t warrant a connection to the 80km-long motorway.

However, local people say if there isn’t a connection the town’s future will be put in serious jeopardy. If a slip road isn’t built the nearest motorway junctions to Buttevant will be 10kms away, north at Charleville and south at Mallow.

Buttevant people point out it will be the only town on the 80km route that won’t have a motorway connection.


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