Deputy McGrath: 'Ongoing under-investment in these roads has now created a potential crisis.'

Tipp TD slams cutting of funding for roads

The damaging Green Party agenda of cutting investment in Irish roads has been outlined in Budget 2022, as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael TDs stand idly by, according to the Leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath.

Reacting to the slashing of funding for roads in the Budget, Tipperary Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated: “Local and regional roads are the arteries that connect many parts of the country and are highly trafficked routes. These roads represent 96,043km of the total 101,456km of our public road network in Ireland, carrying over 54 percent of traffic, but remain chronically underfunded since the financial crash.

“Poor quality roads can be a major cause of concern to communities, directly impacting economic development in our regions and rural areas. Ongoing under-investment in these roads has now created a potential crisis , which the government chooses to conveniently ignore.

“Even analysis done by the Department of Transport, under the strategic framework for investment in land transport (published in 2015 and updated in 2019), conservatively estimates that investment of at least €630 million per annum was needed to keep the regional and local road network in a ‘steady state’ or maintained condition.

“This means that without this minimal investment level, our road networks would continue to deteriorate each year. For instance, my Tipperary constituency has one of the worst confirmed road networks in the country according to the National Oversight and Audit Commission (2020) report, with over 33 percent - a staggering one in every three local primary roads – requiring urgent structural or defect rehabilitation, while 23 percent – almost one in every four - of the counties regional road network being in a similar ruinous condition. Tipperary now has one of the highest levels of ‘structurally unsound’ such roads in the state, which should have warranted a major investment in regional roads in the 2022 Budget, rather than the cuts announced.

“Despite this stark warning and many years of subpar funding for roads since the financial crisis, only €561 million has been allocated for local and regional roads in 2022. This allocation represents a deep cut of €23 million over the 2021 allocation and is least €70 million below what is needed to even maintain the exiting network.

“Additionally, the national roads budget has been decreased by €65 million for 2022. Taken together, this means a massive €88 million or 7 per cent cut, excluding inflationary cost pressures, in funding for all Irish roads in 2022, meaning any new capital investment projects are off the table.

“This major reduction in funding for roads next year is yet another slap in the face to rural communities and illustrates that rural Ireland is being forgotten when it comes to government priorities for capital investment.

“Ireland's roads' infrastructure is already lagging behind other European countries, and the government’s cuts to funding for these essential arteries will worsen the situation. It makes neither strategic nor economic sense and is solely based on a frenzied Green Party agenda that is clearly anti-roads.

“Even more alarming is that the Transport Minister, Eamon Ryan, on Wednesday supported the decision to slash road funding in 2022 in favour of public transport, telling the Dáil that such funding will be significantly reduced in future. This shows that the re-wiring of the NDP, through cutting over €4 billion from road funding, is the price Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are prepared to pay to desperately cling to power.

“This government, despite its agenda, must accept and realise that rural areas depend almost solely on roads for all public and freight transport, getting to and from work, shops, school, healthcare appointments, church and accessing recreation and tourism travel.”

“The government, with its urban bias, clearly did not get the memo that public transport in regional and rural areas, including rural towns, depends almost exclusively on a well-functioning and well-maintained road network.".