Achill based Fianna Fáil councillor Mícheál McNamara expressed his anger and disappointment during the budget meeting of Mayo County Council this week at the removal of two loads of salt from Achill over the recent cold snap.
“I want to know who was involved in the decision to remove salt from Achill,” Cllr McNamara said. “I know there were two trucks hired in to remove salt from there. For the first two to three days of the cold spell Achill was left isolated because the gritter was broken. We ended up with excess salt supplies because of this, then it was taken off us. Who made that decision? It was very unfair to the people of Achill.”
County manager Peter Hynes acknowledged that there was redistribution of salt over the period. “Our response was as good as it could have been, but it’s all down to finance,” Mr Hynes told the meeting. “There was redistribution of salt from areas, the management of the salt supply was a decision of the NRA which was given the overall authority by Government last year following the cold snap. It was redistributed to keep national primary roads open. If the N5 was forced to closed down then there would have been no access in and out of the county at all.”
County engineer and director of services Joe Beirne outlined the basic cost of the winter maintenance program so far. “In the winter of 2009 to 2010 we spent €1.5 million on the programme, so far in the winter 2010 to 2011 we’ve spent €2.2 million on it,” he revealed. “There were 120 mobilisations of salt spreaders in the pervious winter. This winter we’ve had 77 already and were only half way through the winter period when the are needed to go out.”