FG Dáil motion calls for funding to restore worst damaged roads
A €200 million cut imposed on the roads budget by Transport Minister Noel
Dempsey means there’s no money to repair scores of county roads damaged by
the recent deep freeze, Fine Gael Transport Spokesman Fergus O’ Dowd TD has
Speaking during the Fine Gael Private Members’ Motion on the impact of the
freezing weather on roads and water, Deputy O’Dowd said Minister Dempsey’s
deep cut to the roads budget will leave roads closed, damage our economy
and risk lives.
“Our local and regional road network serves an important economic role and
has valuable social and community functions. Ninety four per cent of all
our roads are regional or local, carrying about 60% of all traffic and 43%
of all goods traffic.
“Last February, less than a year ago, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey
announced a €607.5 million investment programme in the regional and local
roads programme with great fanfare. He said the funding was guaranteed,
even though Exchequer funding was under enormous pressure.
“This guarantee lasted less than two months until the Emergency Budget, and
there were further reductions in Budget 2010. Overall the roads budget was
slashed by €196 million, a 32% cut.
“Road safety is central to road improvement programmes and maintenance
work, and is supposed to be a key plank of the Government’s road investment
programme. Yet, the deep freeze has left scores of roads pockmarked with
potholes the size of craters, or disintegrating completely.
“Fine Gael is calling on the Minister to immediately release emergency
funding through the NRA to restore these roads. The Government’s ongoing
refusal to acknowledge its role, and its willingness to allow roads to
deteriorate further, will cost taxpayers more in the long run and place
drivers’ at even greater risk.”