5 January 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
Cork South-West Dáil candidate Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has called for a significant repair fund to be put in place to fix damaged roads affected by the recent adverse weather.
The Bandon-based Councillor said roads all across west Cork have suffered damage, some very serious damage.
Councillor Murphy O’Mahony said: “It is outrageous that money being paid over by drivers in their road tax is still being diverted to prop-up the flawed structures in Irish Water while motorists have to put up with dangerous driving conditions. The Government is under-spending on road maintenance and investment and it’s causing real difficulties for drivers in west Cork.
“In 2015 alone €400 million collected through the motor tax was used to fund the subvention going to Irish Water. This means that over 35% of the total money collected through motor tax is being dropped into the financial black hole that is Irish Water. A similar payment of €439 million was made in 2014 and another payment will be made in 2016. This is simply not justifiable anymore.
“It’s astonishing to think that the Government is diverting motor tax receipts down the Irish Water drain at a time when roads are literally being washed away in west Cork and across the country. Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil have also revealed that the Government has underspent by an estimated €289 million a year on road maintenance. This is the primary reason why the roads are in such a bad state. Many damaged roads, particularly more rural roads, were not able to cope with the adverse conditions through the winter so far. The heavy rain has made potholes worse and made conditions very difficult for drivers. The predicted cold snap for the coming week will also makes matters worse.
“Our roads need a clear investment stream. I believe we need an audit of the damage to roads in west Cork to help prioritise repairs. This is about road safety and ensuring residents can access their homes and drive safely in the weeks and months ahead. As well as investment in road safety, Cork County Council will need to carry out work on gullies and dykes along grass verges to ensure they’re clear from the recent weather damage. This may include extra staff being supported by the local authority and if that’s needed it should be approved.
“All of this will require an important commitment and statement from the Government. Cork County Council is already having its funding streams diverted into Irish Water so this work will have to be funded by central government. Funding being administered by the Red Cross to help residents and businesses who have been flooded is extremely important and this should be matched by a commitment to improve our local roads. Fine Gael and Labour have consistently failed to adequately invest in maintaining and repairing the road network – it’s time for that to change.”