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Dempsey says Ireland's snow response 'better than Europe'

The Transport Minister tells the Dáil he thinks Ireland’s local authorities handled the big freeze better than others.

TRANSPORT MINISTER Noel Dempsey has insisted that Ireland’s local authorities responded better to the recent snowy weather than any other authorities across Europe.

Answering questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Dempsey said that when compared to the effects the cold weather had had on Ireland’s transport network, Ireland came out better than most.

“If you look at what happened across the water, across Europe, in similar circumstances, I think we did much better in dealing with this from a transport point of view,” he said.

The minister also said Ireland’s local authorities had made “adequate” plans to handle last month’s cold snap, keeping Ireland’s roads open to “sixty to seventy per cent” of commercial traffic, and keeping important locations like hospitals and schools accessible.

We should try to learn from each of these [cold snaps]… We shouldn’t try to improve them as they happen.

Commenting on the ongoing problems faced by local councils with their supplies of grit and salt, Dempsey said he regretted that responsibility for maintaining supplies of grit and salt was left centrally with the National Roads Authority – saying that local councils would be better able to make sure their roads were taken care of if they took charge of their own supplies.

“The primary responsibility for local and regional roads… is a matter for the county councils,” the Meath West TD admitted, saying local authorities should “have a look” at whether they could take on their own supplies of grit for the future.

Responding to suggestions that the Department of Transport work with local authorities to ensure that non-Council sources – such as local farmers – be allowed to help with spreading grit, Dempsey said he had met with the IFA to discuss such arrangements in future.

Local authorities now know that there are particular difficulties in [some] areas. They should be looking at local arrangements where, close to those spots, there is some supply of salt.

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