Dr. Liam Twomey of Fine Gael has requested extra funding for Wexford County Council to help in their repair of the damage to the county’s roads after the snow and ice in December and early January. Speaking in the Seanad, Dr. Twomey called on the Taoiseach to respond to the need for emergency funding by local authorities, after Minster Dempsey insisted to the Transport Committee that “he did not have a pot of gold”.
During the Seanad’s Order of Business, Dr. Twomey said “We must deal with this problem as a matter of urgency. If the Minister cannot do anything, the Taoiseach should be invited to come before the House to explain why the Government cannot make emergency funding available to local authorities in order that they might repair the roads. If repairs are not carried out, certain roads will deteriorate to an unbelievable degree in the next few months and will eventually be closed. Billions of euro have been provided for the banks because it has been stated the finance system is so important. However, the country’s infrastructure is equally important. The Leader should invite the Taoiseach to address the Seanad to indicate why funding has not been made available for urgent repairs to roads throughout the country.”
Dr. Twomey acknowledged that secondary roads are the worst affected but pointed out the importance of infrastructure for local farmers and rural businesses and communities. “This will result in more economic damage to rural communities who have already suffered at the hands of the government’s budgets in 2008 and April of last year. The Transport Committee heard that the entire €411m budget which has been allocated for all surface repairs in 2010, is likely to be exceeded by the national emergency total alone.”
Dr. Twomey wanted to commend the individual County and Borough Council workers, who showed their commitment by all the hours that they put in over the holiday period in December and January. However he is concerned about Minister Dempsey’s defence of the government’s limited response to the recent severe weather and also by the council’s delay in declaring an emergency on 8 January, some 9 days after the heavy snow and ice on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. “With climate change, we are more than likely going to see this kind of weather again and we cannot have as slow or as limited a response the next time”.
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