Government frozen in inaction
Government frozen in inaction

The Dublin government has been accused of being in “disarray” with its poor response to the prolonged winter freeze.

Thousands of people in rural communities have been completely isolated over the Christmas period as the cold snap made roads impassable.

Cutbacks at local authority level were blamed as councils failed to get to grips with the problem. In many counties only National roads were gritted as resources were not available for smaller, rural roads to be maintained.

One centimetre of snow closed Dublin airport for several hours twice this week, while Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann services suffered massive disruption. Local authorities and government departments blamed each other in relation to responsibility for keeping the roads free of snow and ice.

On Tuesday evening, Environment Minister John Gormley stated on Irish television that he “doesn’t know” where Transport Minister Noel Dempsey is only a few hours after the Taoiseach appointed Minister Gormley to co-ordinate ministerial and local government efforts.

“It beggars belief that Transport Minister Noel Demspey has chosen to stay on his holidays while transport throughout the country is grinding to a halt in the deepest and most prolonged winter freeze since 1963,” said Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhhgin O Caolain TD.

“How can you co-ordinate with an absent minister?

“The Government has repeatedly cited the shortage of salt, however, experience in other countries shows that sand on its own can be used very effectively to provide surface traction on roads. We have had no adequate explanation as to why this is not being more widely used. That this is even a matter of debate at this stage points up the lateness of the government response.

“I want to pay tribute to local authority workers across the country who have been working hard to keep roads open. It is long past time that Ministers and senior civil servants measured up to that level of commitment.”

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