The Government must wake up to the ongoing weather crisis and immediately direct the Emergency Planning Office to return from its Christmas break, according to Fine Gael Roscommon/South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten.
“To date neither the Government nor the Emergency Planning Office has acknowledged the serious nature of the severe weather. The lack of any centralised planning has seen local authorities run out of salt and grit, people marooned in their homes, and roads so treacherous that emergency service vehicles have been involved in accidents. Even the National Roads Authority is warning about the current lack of co-ordination.
“With forecasters now predicting more frost and fog over the next week it is vital that the Government starts co-ordinating a national response. The current system whereby local authorities act independently has seen large areas left without any salt or grit supplies to make roads passable. Someone in Government should wake up to the serious nature of this crisis and recall the Emergency Planning Office from its Christmas break.
“Some elderly people and families have been marooned in their homes for ten days. Many do not have access to public water, and food supplies are running low. In particular areas the crisis is as severe as the flooding. Some people living on their own are now facing their third week without access to community nurses, home help and meals on wheels.
“The Government has already lost seven days over the Christmas break. It is vital that no more time is lost. While people in rural communities don’t expect local roads to be gritted at the first sign of frost, we now have a situation where people, including those living on their own, are now facing a third week of being marooned.
“With weather forecasts giving ample warning of arctic conditions, the Government should have engaged the emergency planning office to coordinate State service providers and make available emergency contact numbers, in a similar manner to that employed during the recent flooding.
“Roads remain in a lethal state in advance of many people trying to return to work next week, and schools set to re-open.”