McHugh dismay at delay in emergency meeting on salt crisis
An emergency meeting of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, proposed for yesterday to discuss the salt crisis, will not now take place until after Christmas.
The meeting had been sought by Donegal T.D. Joe McHugh who described the decision to delay it as "crazy".
On Friday, the Fine Gael representative, a member of the Transport body, had contacted the chairperson of the Committee, Frank Fahey, calling for a meeting of the organisation and the NRA yesterday to debate the critical shortages in salt as road conditions worsen. "He was happy enough to to go ahead with it but when the proposal was passed up the line, the message came back that the meeting couldn't take place until after Christmas.
"I had even proposed Tuesday but again that was rejected. It's an absolutely crazy situation.
"I'm very annoyed at this decision. Is it the politicians or the Civil Servants who are making these decisions?" demanded Deputy McHugh.
"Here we are in the middle of one of the worst snow falls in living memory and we can't even have a meeting between the relevant authorities to discuss it. There's a thaw supposed to be coming in on Christmas Eve - what's the point in having it after the snow's gone?"
The Donegal T.D. said a number of vital issues needed to be discussed including the situation in relation to current stockpiles of salt and where they were located.
"There's a real lack of clarity as to where the salt is and there's a question about whether much of it is being held over for the Dublin area.
"I'm not happy at all that this meeting is not going to go ahead before Christmas. This could seriously backfire on the authorities."
The North-East representative said businesses in the main urban areas had suffered badly in terms of Christmas trade with turnover down by over fifty percent. "This was supposed to be icing on the cake but instead it's the icing on the road that's causing the problems.
"The lack of salt is bringing the country to a standstill. The Christmas shopping season is a last chance saloon for many struggling businesses and now it will be lost because the roads are not being salted."
Salt stocks were scheduled to arrive in Cork and Belfast yesterday, Last week supplies of salt were due to arrive through Killybegs but are understood to have been diverted to another port.