What a waste - Forgotten airstrips

IT’S just over decade since the country benefited from Charlie McCreevy’s if-I-have-it-I-spend-it brand of housekeeping but a legacy from our wild Bollinger days was discussed at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday. The hearing did not show our country in a particularly good light.

The committee heard more than €9m was spent on landing strips on Inishbofin Island and Cleggan, Co Galway, but the air services that were expected to use them never took to the skies. The airstrips were completed some years ago but have never been officially used. They stand idle and almost useless as a monument to Banana Republic hubris and the misuse of public funds to curry electoral favour. They, however, cost €300,000 a year to maintain.

There is a childishness about projects like this that is almost amusing, but such a flagrant abuse is destructive to any idea of civic morality. The committee heard that the Department of Islands had a budget of around €40m when the airstrips were built. That has been reduced to something around €600,000 — and not a minute too soon.


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