The news that Donegal has not been included in a round of additional allocations to local authorities to assist in the repair of roads damaged by recent severe weather has prompted an angry reaction among politicians here.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD this week announced a new ‘Special Maintenance Grant’ of €15m to assist in the repair of regional and local roads damaged by severe weather events.
In addition, a €3m allocation is being provided to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to assist with winter operations and maintenance works on national roads.
In all, 25 local authorities around the country have been allocated funding, but Donegal County Council has not been included.
Announcing the funding, Minister Ross said extreme weather events over the last year, such as Storm Eleanor, Storm Emma, flooding incidents and the summer drought have had a major impact on the regional and local road network. These events combined with the extended period of reduced funding for road maintenance following the economic downturn have left the road network much more vulnerable to damage.
However, his failure to consider this county for funding has been met by much anger and frustration locally.
Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has asked the newly appointed Minister for Education to find his Donegal jersey and to start wearing it around the cabinet table.
“Today’s funding of €18 million roads funding for 25 counties, but nothing for Donegal, is a poor start for Minister Mc Hugh at cabinet,” Deputy Gallagher said.
“Does the Minister not realise 25 counties were allocated roads funding today. It does not take a mathematical or geographical genius to figure out what county was omitted.”
Senator Padraig MacLochlainn said Donegal County Council had been snubbed by Minister Ross.
“Donegal County Council had submitted an application for funding to cover the damage done by the heavy snow from earlier this year with many roads badly affected,” he said.
“Clearly that application has been met with a refusal by the Minister.
“This refusal is utterly unacceptable and twinned with the Government’s appalling failure to provide the funding to reinstate and reconstruct Swan Park in Buncrana, we are clearly being badly failed here.
“I believe that Donegal is being punished or penalised by central government due to the emergency investment that was required in the county after last years serious flooding.
“First, they turned us down for roads funding to support this years Irish Open in Ballyliffin and now this.”