Errigal road still treacherous
Business people and politicians in Gaoth Dobhair yesterday said the Errigal Road must be a higher priority when severe weather hits.
The well-used local road, which runs from Dn Liche to Termon along the back of Errigal, has been untreated by council crews during most of the recent freeze, due to declining salt stocks. Yesterday, as the thaw settled into its second day, driving was extremely treacherous along the ice-covered road, which is marked on either end with signs warning that it has not been gritted.
For Ciarn Roarty of Roarty's shop and garage in Dn Liche, the loss of the road also meant a shocking drop of up to 90 percent of his business. He said about 90 per cent of their business came from passing trade, but there was virtually no passing trade in recent weeks, when the road was dropped from the council's winter maintenance programme.
Ciarn said he approached local politicians last week to ask if a snow plough could be used in advance of the thaw, but this did not happen.
"The public representatives have done their best but the council didn't seem to listen to them," Ciarn said. "There are hundreds of people coming today for the Frankie Kennedy Winter School and they're just travelling over sheets of ice."
Eamonn McBride, president of the Gaoth Dobhair Chamber of Commerce, said the road closure was very serious.
"We are hoping that some of these retailers will be able to get a reprieve from the council, who did not grit the roads or actually cut off the road, such as the Errigal Road," Eamonn said. He likened the situation to "someone severing an artery to your business, because people can't travel there."
Fine Gael TD Dinny McGinley was one of the elected representatives Ciarn approached last week with his request for the plough. The deputy said he and others spoke with council engineers, but no snowplough was used.
"We cannot allow a repeat of what happened this year at the back of Errigal road to happen again," the deputy said. "We'll have to get together and make sure that this critical connecting road is given a much higher priority than it is given by Donegal County Council at present." He said the road was the main route to Letterkenny from the Lower Rosses and Gaoth Dobhair for emergency services, business and other motorists.
The road has been closed for up to six weeks this year, Ciarn said. He said the Gaoth Dobhair chamber will call a meeting for area businesses and others on the issue in the new year. Gritting the road has been a problem since 2003, he said.
"Every year they take the back of Errigal off the gritting programme," Ciarn said. Last winter the Roartys and other local people spread grit from the council on the road themselves.
"It's not good enough," Ciarn said. "This is the only road they take off the gritting programme every year."