County councillors have hit out at the government for the ending of a funding stream that contributed more €20million to rural roads in Donegal over the last ten years.
The Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) which funded work on non-county roads has been stopped for this year. Last year €600,000 from the scheme was spent in the county. The contributions from the scheme peaked in 2007 with a spend of €3.6m.
Donegal has been the county to benefit most from the scheme over the last decade. Donegal County Council says it cannot afford to fund work on non-public roads.
The cutting of the scheme was attacked at the January meeting of the county council by councillors who described it as an attack on rural Ireland. Almost all the councillors supported the motion and called for a meeting with the Minister For Tourism and Transport to discuss the matter.
Cllr. David Alcorn raised the issue and asked for the council to supply materials for the repair of such rural roads. He said that with the support of the council he hoped the scheme could be restored again.
Cllr. Patrick McGowan said such rural roads need upgrading and maintenance.
Cllr. Bernard McGuinness said that many of the roads that are not county roads
may not necessarily need to be tarred.
Cllr. McGarvey said the LIS was of great benefit to rural communities. Many of the roads are in terrible condition and need work, he said.
Cllr. Liam Blaney said the removal of the scheme is another attack on people living in rural areas.
Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher said one road in Dungloe that fell under the scheme is used by “everybody” but the council can’t repair it. The removal of the scheme would not effect streets and housing estates in Dublin, she said. “ Here we are now again with more consequences for rural Ireland than any other area. We have had enough of these attacks.”
Cllr. Ciaran Brogan labelled the decision disgraceful. “This is another decision taken in Dublin that will have huge implications in rural Ireland and in Donegal in particular. We have a special case to make.”
Cllr. Michael McBride said some people will not be able to use the lane that runs to their house.
Cllr. Dessie Larkin said the Irish Farmer’s Association should be asked to support bids to have the scheme restored.
“It is a very bad news story. This is a decision taken by someone who has relatively little understanding of what happens in rural counties or outside of Dublin.
Cllr. Terence Slowey said the scheme is critical to rural Donegal and to farming.
Cllr. Seamus Ó Domhnaill agreed with Cllr. Alcorn that material should be provided for people to carry out work on these roads.
Cllr. Padraig Ó Doherty said The LIS was a very good scheme and the council should write to the minister and ask him to reconsider his decision.
Cllr. Mickey Doherty said he was not inclined to agree that the council should leave material at the end of a road,. He said some people who don’t need the material might take it. “I would be inclined to do it myself,” he joked.
Director Of Services for Roads and Transportation, John McLaughlin said the council does not have surplus material sitting around and it would have to be bought.