By Kieran O’Mahony
THE state of the roads in Cork was the main issue that councillors were confronted with on the doorsteps, during the recent election canvass.
And newly elected members of the local authority are now demanding an urgent meeting with the Taoiseach to secure badly-needed funding.
The situation is so serious that organisers of the West Cork Rally refused to add Ahiohill to the route as the roads were so bad.
At a meeting of the local authority, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said some minor roads in West Cork are not fit to drive on, but added he wasn’t blaming the County Council, as they can only work with the resources they receive from central government.
‘It’s about high time a delegation goes to Dublin to meet with the Taoiseach to secure extra funding and there’s no point going to see Minister for Transport Shane Ross. Cork County Council is being badly short-changed – people are paying motor tax and should be entitled to good roads,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said he experienced the same issue when out canvassing. He said that back in 2008 – before the recession – the Council received €65m from central government for road maintenance but this had dropped to €36m in 2018 and stands at €50m for this year.
‘We are meant to be resurfacing 10% of roads every year, yet we’re only at 4%. There is a standard NCT for cars, why can’t this be applied to roads too?’ said Cllr Hurley.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said that the county could do with significant investment in its road network and highlighted the case of one motorist who ended up paying twice to repair burst tyres in Kinsale recently.
‘The Department needs to recognise that our regional roads are on a significant backfoot since the recession, and we need a programme of funding,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said it would be a ‘waste of time’ meeting Minister Shane Ross.
‘He came down to West Cork a few years ago and saw the state of the roads there. He met with loads of community groups and he promised he would make contact and no one has heard back from him. I wouldn’t be welcoming him back,’ said Cllr Collins.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said locals in Ahiohill had been hoping that the West Cork Rally would be extended to their area but they were told it couldn’t go there as the roads are too bad.
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said the financial crisis has passed and that it is crucial they bring the funding back to its pre-recession level.
‘We should be meeting with the Minister for Expenditure Pascal Donohoe as he has his hands on the purse strings,’ said Cllr Coleman.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said there is a merit in seeking a meeting with senior government ministers on this issue as the Council’s revenue base has now changed following the boundary extension of Cork City Council.
He also pointed out that if cuts hadn’t been introduced back in 2008 the Council would have been able to spend an extra €350m on road improvements.