Further protests by hauliers could be in the offing after Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) said funding was unlikely to be made available anytime soon to upgrade two sections of a national secondary road in North Cork.
Three months ago, hauliers staged a 'go slow convoy' on the N73 between Mitchelstown and Mallow in protest about the condition of the road at Clogher Cross and Annakisha South, close to the village of Kildorrery.
The road is extremely narrow in both places and two HGVs can barely pass each other. Trucks have been damaged in collisions and on a number of occasions as a result of overhanging branches.
Speaking during the protest in late 2020, truckers described the road as being in a "deplorable condition" and warned it is " a matter of time" before someone is badly hurt in an incident.
TII has provided some funding to Cork County Council engineers to come up with a new road design for both areas.
The council has completed the designs and is also preparing to put the projects out to tender.
However, a meeting of the Fermoy Municipal District Council, which oversees the two areas in question, was informed that no funding for construction was forthcoming from TII.
A letter written by a TII official to the council was read out at the meeting.
The official wrote: 'Unfortunately, funding for this programme of works is limited and it is unlikely that we will be in a position to fund the construction of both projects next year. While we are committed to supporting the improvement of the N73, there are competing demands on available funding."
He added that they would continue to keep the situation under review.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O'Flynn described the reply as “a waste of paper.”
“We need money now for both those areas to be upgraded,” he added.
Independent councillor Frank Roche, who was very vocal in support of the hauliers' protest, predicted they would mount more.
He said the two sections of road were not up to the standard of national secondary routes elsewhere in the country and funding for them should be on TII's priority list.
Mr Roche added, however, that some of the overhanging branches which had caused repeated damage to trucks had recently been cut down, but more would also have to be lopped off.
Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre O'Brien described the TII reply as “very disappointing”, especially as the council had done all the designs and the project was essentially shovel-ready.
She proposed, and won unanimous agreement from colleagues, that the municipal district council write to the Minister for Transport to seek his intervention.