Sinn Féin spokesperson for Transport, Imelda Munster TD, has lambasted the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross TD, after he disclosed at a meeting of the Oireachtas Transport Committee that the spending deficit in road maintenance has increased by 50% since he took office.
Deputy Munster said:
“When Shane Ross took office there was a deficit in spending on the maintenance of local and regional roads to the tune of €3billion.
“This was due to a decade of neglect when the previous Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments chose to bail out banks rather than invest in services and infrastructure.
“However, the government is blue in the face trying to convince us that the economy is in recovery.
“If the economy is booming, why is the deficit at €4.5billion after two years of this government being in power? That is an increase of 50%.
“Fianna Fáil also have to take responsibility, for supporting successive budgets that have led to the crumbling of infrastructure right across the state.
“It is clear that Shane Ross is out of his depth. He has known about this issue for 2 years and has done precious little to address it.
“The longer he ignores this issue the more costly it will be, both in terms of spending in order to bring roads up to a steady state condition and in terms of road safety.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has today called on the Minister for Transport to ensure that damage caused to roads during Storm Emma is quantified and a plan, including details of additional funding, is put in place to allow for the repair of damaged roads in the very near future.
Deputy Munster said:
“There has been widespread damage caused to roads due to snow and ice in the past week. The extent of this damage will become clearer in the coming days and weeks, but it is important that the Department of Transport has assessed the road network, and has made provision for all required repairs and maintenance.”
“It is important that the Department has a plan for assessing the damage to transport infrastructure, and I would like to hear detail on plans to carry out repairs including how they will be funded.”
“The Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Authorities and the TII are all on the same page in this regard. “
“After a very difficult week for most people during Storm Emma, the Department must ensure that roads are brought back to a decent condition to ensure that the legacy of Storm Emma does not drag on for months or even years, as has unfortunately been the case after previous extreme weather events.”
“The Department has a very poor record indeed on this, and I am sure that we are all aware by this stage that our roads have been significantly underfunded for the past decade.”
“I am calling on the Minister to review the funding situation for our roads, both this year, in the aftermath of the storm, and in the coming few years to bring funding to the required level to ensure the viability and safety of the network.”
Sinn Féin Councillor David Saurin has called on Louth County Council to grit the main road through Tullyallen village in advance of the severe weather warnings forecast for the coming week.
Speaking today, Cllr Saurin said “I recently raised the issue of Louth County Council’s road gritting policy at a recent Drogheda Borough Council meeting and asked what roads were included in the road gritting plan. I was told that main and secondary roads are the only ones provided for in the gritting plan as they are the busiest roads.
Cllr Saurin then asked that this policy be reviewed “to take into account, increases in population in many of our villages and rural schools resulting in these rural roads being particularly busy especially in the mornings when the roads are at their most dangerous after harsh night time conditions. The main road through my own village of Tullyallen from the Collon Road junction to the school is particularly dangerous in icy conditions. Both the Slane and Collon roads on either side of the village are part of the current road gritting programme and to grit the road through Tullyallen itself would add a mere two kilometres onto the route of the gritting truck.”
The Council promised to review their policy ‘later in the year’ but Councillor Saurin is concerned about the severe weather warnings forecast for this week. The Tullyallen Councillor asked that “the Council even temporarily extends the network of roads to be gritted.
Cllr David Saurin said “Not much to ask to ensure a safer road for residents and parents.”