Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Galway East Cllr. Anne Rabbitte has hit out at the Government for consecutively cutting Local Authority funding for essential services.  Despite claiming that it’s protecting road maintenance spending, Fine Gael and Labour have cut overall investment year on year.

Cllr. Rabbitte commented, “Major safety issues are arising in housing estates across Co. Galway because the Council simply does not have the resources to carry out necessary repairs.  Potholes, damaged footpaths, poor lighting and sub-standard signage are creating dangerous situations for both motorists and pedestrians, especially in estates where there are children out playing.  We urgently need to secure funding to allow for the provision of safety measures like “children at play” signs or even speed control measures in areas of high population concentration and housing estates.

“There has been a massive drop off in road maintenance spending in Galway over the past few years.  Since 2012, the spend on regional and local roads has been almost 50% less than what is needed to keep the roads in good condition – the Department of Environment estimates that €40m is required to keep Galway roads in their steady state condition, however the Government has spent an average of €21m a year since 2013.

“Motor tax, which should be pumped back into local authorities to pay for roads and local infrastructure upgrades is being spent on bulking up Irish Water.  Around €22 million of motor tax receipts from Galway will be used to fund the €324m subvention going towards the establishment of Irish Water in 2015. This money is purely to set up the Irish Water corporation, not a cent of it will be spent on improving water infrastructure.

“Despite claims from Minister Alan Kelly that funding is not an issue, there is a clear problem with the level of spending that is being earmarked for essential works.  I am regularly contacted by residents in Shannon Park and Marion Park, who feel completely abandoned by this Government and the local authority.  Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, and residents have raised serious safety concerns about the state of the footpaths and roads in and around these estates.

“Do we have to wait until someone has an accident or is seriously injured before we take action?  This is a completely unacceptable situation and I would urge the Minister and the Government to ensure that local authorities are properly resourced so that essential works can be carried out without delay”.