Motorists’ lives at risk ‘because councils can’t afford to grit roads’

CASH-STRAPPED local authorities are in dire need of funding to grit dangerous roads as the big freeze yesterday claimed another life and left many seriously injured.

As forecasters predict icy conditions will continue for at least another week, Fine Gael warned that the Government had to tackle the problem as a matter of urgency.

The party’s road safety spokesman, Shane McEntee, claimed councils were not adequately gritting roads because they had run out of money.

He said it simply wasn’t good enough for the Government to ignore the problem and emergency resources were needed before more families were devastated by road tragedies.

“Treacherous roads have already claimed lives at the weekend and this will continue to be a threat as long as severe weather conditions prevail,” the TD said.

“Despite the ongoing warnings of bad weather, local councils are not managing to do their jobs in making icy roads safe for motorists.

“This seems to be because funding has run out at a time when it is critical that councils have the resources to put in place essential road safety measures during adverse weather conditions, like the gritting of roads.”

The AA’s Conor Faughnan backed his claims and said it had received reports from gardaí yesterday that some main roads had not been gritted. This, he said, was of “serious concern”.

Mr Faughnan said there was no excuse for a fundamental safety precaution such as gritting not to be carried out adequately when ice had been forecast.

“Motorists have been well prepared thanks to Met Éireann and the AA but it is very difficult to believe that salt or sand to make roads safe has run out,” he said.

Mr Faughnan said the matter was one the AA would be following up in the new year.

Meanwhile, Cork county manager Martin Riordan said his overtime budget had been cut by 50% and, consequently, resulted in a major curtailment of gritting on secondary roads.

Mr Riordan said he expects to have to implement even further cutbacks on the overtime budget next year which would have an even bigger impact if there was a prolonged period of severe weather.

It also emerged yesterday that council bosses in Galway had run out of salt and grit and workmen were concentrating on primary roads in a bid to make supplies go further.

Former mayor of Galway, Cllr Donal Lyons, said he was inundated with complaints, especially from residents in housing estates after the city council ran out of funding and concentrated their supplies on the main roads.

“Money is very tight but we have to ensure our roads are safe,” added Mr Lyons.

A spokesman for Dublin City Council said gritting teams were in place and the work was being carried out in accordance with the severity of the ice.


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