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A bureaucratic mix-up is delaying much-needed repairs to a Connemara road

Flooding in the past week has made the road’s conditions significantly worse, and locals are calling for lights to be installed.

Image: Padraic McDonagh

THE REPAIR OF a busy road in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht has been delayed due to an alleged mix-up in the application for funding by Galway County Council.

In the past week, the state of the road has become considerably worse due to heavy rain and flooding; locals are now asking that lights be installed to ensure the safety of those who frequently use the road.

In a submission for funding lodged last May, several local schools, tourist buses and coach companies, the local fire service, retailers, and healthcare professionals all voiced their concern at the state of the road and called for it to be repaired as a matter of urgency.

In response to questions posed in the Dáil, Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring said that Galway County Council had applied for funding to fix the road under the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS), which is a scheme for private roads.

Since the road in question Bóthar Doirefhearta is a public road, Ring said it was ineligible for funding under that scheme.

“Responsibility for the maintenance of public roads falls within the remit of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, and Galway County Council has been advised of the position,” he told the Dáil.

Galway City Council, however, told TheJournal.ie that it “did not make an application for funding under the wrong scheme” and described it as a “misunderstanding”.

Local Galway TD Catherine Connolly, who first raised the question in the Dáil, said that she was “at a loss” to understand what was going on.

She said that the Gaeltacht community was not only struggling to survive, but “be safe in using the road”. She said that there have been several public meetings on the matter.

“I ask for the Minister’s assistance in clarifying where the people of Carraroe can go with the application. They are going from Billy to Jack and back to Billy again, from the county council to the wrong Department and then another Department and all the time the condition of the road is worsening. Tá sé ag éirí i bhfad níos measa.

Bóthar Dhoirefhearta Source: Pádraic McDonagh

“I seek direction and a commitment to help the people living in the area to address their legitimate concerns.”

Minister Ring said he could sense Connolly’s frustration, and said that he would write to Galway County Council and the Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, Minister Ring confirmed that he has written to both the Galway council and Minister Ross in an attempt to speed things up.

I gcroílár na Gaeltachta

The road, called Bóthar Doirefhearta, stretches along 4.5km from the Carraroe (An Cheathrú Rua) crossroads to the top of a local primary road.

Local representation has been made for 20 years to get the road repaired by resurfacing and widening the entire stretch of road so that two cars can pass each other. The last time work was done on the road was in 2007, when a section of the road was widened.

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Bothar Df Map Highlighted in pink, Bóthar Dhoirefhearta.

It’s described by locals as a “busy” road, used by school and tourist buses, and a route often taken by emergency services and GPs.

In a submission made by locals looking for funding for the road, it says that the road connects the following areas, with those areas’ populations included in brackets.

  • Crumpán (2,470)
  • Camus (316)
  • Leitirmóir (840)
  • Garumna (1,281)

In total, they say that just under 5,000 people are relying on this road.

As part of the application for funding, local GP Peter Sloane described the road as “disgraceful” and in a “quite frankly dangerously appalling state”.

“As a local GP, I view this road surface as potentially detrimental to the health of my patients. When undertaking house calls or attending emergencies, the disgraceful nature of both the road surface along with the narrow impassibility along Bóthar Doirefhearta means that I am often delayed getting to my patient.

It is my view purely by luck that there has been no catastrophe arising. In my view, such a catastrophe is only a matter of time.

He also said that recent pipe-laying work had left the road in “dangerous” condition and that he worried there was “an accident waiting to happen”.

In response to a request for comment from TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Galway County Council said: “The Council had been  in contact with Sean Kyne TD when he was Minister for the Gaeltacht. Discussions were ongoing regarding the provision of funding for this scheme. However, funding was not in place prior to the Cabinet changes where Deputy Kyne was moved from the Gaeltacht Department.

After further discussions with Deputy Kyne, he indicated that there may be funding available in the Department of Rural and Community Development – Michael Ring’s Department, and to make an application there.
The Council subsequently had discussions with the Department of Transport on this issue but there was no specific grants available for these works at the time. Galway County Council has again written  to the Department of Transport requesting funding for this project as there is now a specific grant available in 2018 but no confirmation of funding [has been received] at this time. Galway County is aware and has been informed that there is no specific grant available in the Department of the Gaeltacht.

The spokesperson also said that it has had correspondence with Minister Ring, and this made reference to the incorrect scheme. It also called the affair “a misunderstanding”.

Read: ‘You wouldn’t get this in the Third World’ – locals up in arms over state of roads in Munster town

Read: Anonymous donor steps in to fund new €3 million UCD running track

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