Breen takes issue with his Fianna Fail Constituency Colleague Timmy Dooley that the Opposition are scaremongering when it comes to the extent of the damage caused to Clare roads following the Big Freeze.

February 26th, 2010 - Pat Breen

With Government spending on regional and local roads to be cut by almost €200 million down to €411 million this year, compared to €607 million in 2009, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen is concerned at the knock on implications that this will have for Clare County Council in their efforts to repair the roads in the county, which have been badly damaged as a result of the recent big freeze. He has taken issue with accusations made by his Constituency Colleague Fianna Fail Deputy Timmy Dooley that the Opposition is scaremongering the extent of the damage caused by the bad weather, saying that “instead of making such unfounded remarks about the Opposition he should be issuing an invitation to the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey to come down to Clare and see the condition of our roads for himself”, adding that so far “Minister Dempsey has turned a blind eye to the situation here in Clare.”

“Clare County Council have been hit with a 3% decrease in funding from last year and effectively have €8.2 m to spend on repairing our roads which are in deplorable state following the big freeze, when the bill for restoration of Clare road’s is around €11 million. Over the past two years, Clare has suffered a massive 35% reduction in road funding allocations from Central Government.”

“Local and Regional Roads account for 94% of our Irish Road Network, they carry 60% of all car traffic and 43% of all goods traffic and it is vitally important that the standard of these roads are in a good condition. However, the reality is that many motorists are being forced to drive on sub standard rural roads. This is a road safety issue. Many of our roads remain in an awful state and this shortfall in funding will mean that many of these roads will be left in this deplorable condition.”

“The reduction in funding will also have implications for other road projects in the County which will now be put on hold. The majority of this allocation will have to spend on restoring the damage to the roads, and projects such as work on the Killaloe Bypass will be long fingered with no money available for the acquisition of the land which is necessary to move the project on.”

“No matter how Deputy Dooley tries to dress this up, this is a massive cut in our funding and it will add further to cost of motoring with no end in sight to burst and worn tyres.”

“In the aftermath of the big freeze when the true extent of the damage to our roads became apparent, I wrote to the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey, urging him to meet with a delegation comprising the four Clare Oireachtas Members, Mayor of Clare, Officials of Clare County Council and a representative group of Councillors, to discuss the serious deterioration of our roads, however, my request was met with indifference. Minister Dempsey responded that the responsibility for local roads rests with the Local Authority. This is not the first time that Minister Dempsey has turned a blind eye to County Clare and I would urge Deputy Dooley instead of making unfounded accusations of scaremongering against the Opposition, he could make better use of his time by liaising with his own Local Fianna Fail Councillors who will let him know the real situation regarding the state of the roads and issue an invitation to the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to come down here to County Clare where he will be able to see the situation at first hand for himself, then again, I would not be surprised if he stayed away just like he during the big freeze.”