It’s a bit cold out if you haven’t noticed. While we here in the west have been slipping and sliding our way around the county since the Christmas it seems those in government have finally noticed we may be having a bit of a problem. A snow storm in the Dublin area brought the capital to a standstill on Wednesday evening, with traffic backed up all around the city. So lo and behold, yesterday morning RTÉ reported on its website that a Government emergency response committee was meeting in Dublin to discuss the problems caused by the cold snap. So once again it took something to happen in the capital for the departments of transport, environment, health, education, and the Taoiseach to get together and have a chat about what’s going on around the country.
They also reported that salt supplies have been running low in the east of the country, well anyone who has had to try to manoeuvre his/her way around Mayo on one of the non national primary roads will testify that salt and grit supplies have been running low around here for quite a while already, despite the news that fresh supplies arrived in ports around the country earlier in the week. This news was greeted with the same enthusiasm usually reserved for a returning emigrant or a victorious team.
While you can make your way from any one of our major towns to another, the problem is what happens when you get to the town and need to get around. The footpaths around our major urban areas have been death-traps, despite the best efforts of many business owners in our towns who can be seen most mornings outside their premises, salting and scraping the ice away from outside their doors, trying to clear things up and make it safe for the public. And for those who out of their own pocket and time go out and do their bit trying to clear these paths, credit must be given for their efforts to keep our towns and villages open for business.
Earlier this week the farmers, through the IFA, offered assistance in clearing roads off the beaten track, but so far there has been no take up of this offer. Why? When someone offers assistance for nothing when all it will cost is the supply of the grit, they have the machinery, and are willing to give their time to make it a little bit easier for everybody, what’s wrong with taking up the offer? And having to make your way across some of the lesser roads in the county is taking your life in your hands. There have been tales across all spectrums of the local media about people being trapped in their homes for days on end during this cold snap, which in this day and age is not good enough. We have the technology to communicate with whatever part of the globe we want, but we still cannot deal with a dip in temperatures.
It is easy to lay the blame at the door of the local authorities for the condition the roads and streets have been in for the past few weeks, but in reality they are dealing with the hand the deck gave them. They have only got so much money to spend on the problem, and while things were good a few years ago, they have seen, like everyone else in the last year, a huge reduction in the money they have to spend on these problems, and looking at the budget announced before Christmas, they are going to have even less to spend next year. But then again if it took Dublin getting a bit of a hammering for those in charge to take notice of the problems, should we really be surprised?
Colm gannon [email protected]