It was no harm we had to stay inside and talk during cold snap says engineer

There were no ‘real’ emergencies unattended to by Mayo County Council during the bad weather which brought the country to a standstill over the Christmas period and beyond, and it was “no harm that we had to stay inside and talk to each other”, a senior council official said on Wednesday evening.

Senior engineer Patsy Burke was responding to a motion by Councillor Tom Connolly at the Claremorris electoral area meeting calling on the council to grit all non national roads during extreme weather conditions.

Mr Burke agreed lessons had to be learned but he said the council did have an extreme weather plan which was followed during the cold snap. He said the council staff used all available resources and could not have gritted any more roads than they did. He said he would not be misleading any person, and the resources would not be available to grit every road in the county next year either.

He said an emergency phone number would be immediately put in place in Claremorris and Ballinrobe. But he added that it had to be taken on board that people can be unreasonable, and the council “didn’t miss any real emergency”. He agreed people were “inconvenienced”.

Mr Burke added that the council would try to establish the cost of repairing the roads but the bad news was the cost of repairing the Claremorris to Ballyhaunis Road, one of the worst affected in the county, would exceed the council’s whole road allocation for last year. And the council does not expect to receive any additional funding to deal with the consequences of the frost, ice, and snow, the meeting heard.

Mr Burke said a temporary job would be carried out on the Ballyhaunis road which would keep it going until next February or March.

The main criticism of the council was the lack of communication to the local councillors who were at the coalface of calls from constituents during the bad spell.

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