Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher has sought commitment from the Minister of Transport, Eamon Ryan, that no local authority will lose the much-needed funding required for local road repairs because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Recently the Department of Transport increased its funding for local roads, however as Senator Gallagher outlined in the Seanad, this year many local authorities have the added burden of dealing with Covid-19 and the restrictions that it has placed on local authority work practices. As a result, many roads programmes have yet to commence and there is a fear among many local authorities, that they will not get their full allocation drawn down before the end of the year.
Speaking in the Seanad with the Minister for Transport, Senator Robbie Gallagher said, “The local road network is as important to the people of rural Ireland as the M50 is to the city of Dublin.
“Many small enterprises and businesses in Monaghan, Cavan and North Meath, for example are located on boreens off small local and regional roads. They, like the communities who live on them, depend on a good quality roads network in order to get their goods to market and for the people who live in these communities to go about their daily lives.”
The Senator noted how in a recent survey by the Department of Transport, Monaghan came across as the worst county in Ireland for its quality of local and regional roads infrastructure.
“I am seeking a commitment that no local authority will lose the much-needed funding required for local road repairs because of Covid-19 restrictions. I would like the Minister to issue guidance to local authorities who are behind schedule with their roads programmes.
“Perhaps now with the evenings getting long, having longer daylight hours and coming into the summer months, local authorities would use that time wisely to catch up on the backlog of works needed because of Covid-19 restrictions.
“The last thing that communities and businesses want is to see roadworks taking place in the month of Christmas with queues of traffic going into towns. The last thing that businesses want or need is for their potential customers to be caught in traffic on their way to do their shopping due to roadworks taking place that should have been done earlier in the year but through nobody’s fault could not be done because of Covid-19 restrictions.”
From the Minister’s contribution, Senator Gallagher took it that no local authority will lose funding this year because of an underspend, and that local authorities will have the flexibility to have this work done during the summer months when the weather is good. “Local road infrastructure is vitally important to local communities throughout the length and breadth of this country” concluded the Monaghan, Cavan and North Meath Senator.