Road rage erupted at a meeting of Tipperary County Council on Monday as members expressed their fury at a €1.5m shortfall in the 2015 government allocation for expenditure on regional and local roads.
Angry councillors hit out at the reduction in funding for roads, criticising ministers in the constituency for taking credit for the €16.34m allocation and calling on the Minister for Transport Paschal ODonoghue to meet a deputation from the authority.
Members warned that roads in South Tipperary would be beyond repair unless work was carried out immediately, some blamed the merger of the North and outh county councils for the shortfall and others said the public would be outraged by the €1.5 drop in funding at a time when they were paying more and more taxes.
Cllr. Seamus Morris (SF) said that following the merger people were told that with the public paying property tax and motor tax charges, more money would be put into the roads not less. People had been ‘hoodwinked’, he said.
Cllr. David Dunne (SF) said there was less money available for services such as roads while people were paying more and more taxes.
Cllr. Kieran Bourke (Indpt) said it was shameful of the Minister of Transport to put the officials and members of the council in such a position of having to cope with such a significant drop. Cllr.Roger Kennedy (FF) said it was a disastrous move by the Minister for Transport and he also criticised the minister and minister for state in the county for taking credit for the allocation. Members were of the understanding that the amalgamation of councils would not led to a reduction in services, he said.
Cllr.John Fahey (FG) said roads in Ballingarry, Mullinahone, Drangan and Fethard were in a terrible condition and needed urgent repair.
Cllr. Martin Browne (SF) said members were led to believe there would be no change following the amalgamation. The cut was a disgrace as many roads in the county were impassable..
Cllr. Pat English (WUAG) said a lot of the money was being siphoned off to pay for Irish Water and foreign banks and the people on the ground had to suffer.
Cllr. Siohban Ambrose (FF) said it was a very disappointing allocation and there would be very little to go around once all of the municipal districts received their share of it.
Chairman Michael Fitzgerald (FG) said the council received over €2m last year in additional funding when it went with the ‘begging bowl” to the Minister and he said a case could be made again for more funding.
Cllr. Fitzgerald said €16.5 was a ‘fair heft of money” and if he was the minister he would lock the door on them all for being so negative. Shortfalls were occurring not just in the last three years and services were being cut but the work was still being done.
County Manager Joe McGrath told members that it was ‘grossly misleading’ to lay the blame for the cutback at the door of the merger. The reduction in allocations for regional and local roads was common to all local authorities.
“It is a national issue, not an issue related to the merger” insisted the county manager.
Acknowledging the disappointment of the members the manger said he would be optimistic that the allocation would be increased later in the year. He said the authority would have to put a very strong and focussed case to the Minister for additional funding and he was hopeful that they would meet with the same success as last year when additional funding was sought for the roads.
He told members that they would need to identify key priorities before they meet with the Minister for Transport on the matter.
Director of Services for Roads Marcus O’Connor told members that the Minister for Transport had already been asked to accommodate the council by meeting a deputation on the issue.The funding as it stood would mean that the municipal district would not get as much funding for roads as they had been hoping for.