PEOPLE convicted of crimes should not be “put up in the lap of luxury” in prison but instead put to work out on Limerick roads to refill potholes.
That’s according to Fianna Fail councillor Kevin Sheahan who was speaking on the poor state of Limerick roads at this Monday’s meeting of Limerick City and County Council. Councillors claimed that roads across the city and county are waterlogged and in poor state of repairs, having deteriorated considerably following recent storms.
“We need more money from the Government to employ more manpower, which we are already short on. Roads in the county are seriously waterlogged. If you are driving at night and you go into a pool of water, you could have the steering wheel whipped out of your hands and lose control of your car,” Cllr Sheahan warned.
“It is very worrying and could contribute to causing a serious accident or death. People who are convicted of crimes should be put to work out on our roads rather than being put up in the lap of luxury in prison,” he declared.
Stating that “a stitch in time saves nine” Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville said that the state of the roads was the effect of years of cuts to capital funding towards infrastructure.
Cllr Prendiville also described Cllr Sheahan’s comments a “disgrace”.
“We don’t need chain-gangs fixing our roads. While I wouldn’t mind seeing Seánie Fitz (Seán FitzPatrick was former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank) do a bit of manual labour, we need to see people paid trade union rates and a good wage,” he declared.
Independent councillor Emmett O’Brien described the poor state of Limerick roads as an “emergency situation” and said he had been inundated with messages from concerned residents in West Limerick.
Newcastle West councillor Jerome Scanlan maintained that many of the roads in rural areas have deteriorated considerably since Christmas.
“There is a lot of rain damage and potholes on the roads, it is particularly noticeable in the last month,” the Fine Gael representative claimed.
Independent councillor Lisa Marie Sheehy claimed that people whose vehicles are damaged by potholes on the roads have a right to claim compensation from the local authority.
“If a wheel gets cut up, we are responsible. We need to keep rural roads in check,” she declared.
Fianna Fail councillor Vivienne Crowley pointed out that poor quality roads were not just confined to rural areas.
“The response to the situation is very slow. Works are urgently needed. We need more funding, more staff and a better service,” Cllr Crowley commented.
Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh also agreed that the council’s response has been to slow on the issue. He asked why flood damage works in Castleconnell, which have caused the deterioration of a road, were not carried out a year ago.
Cllr Ó Ceallaigh also claimed that older estates in the city have been forgotten and roads were in atrocious condition with cracks spreading onto footpaths.
Council chief executive Conn Murray said that council staff were working 24/7 in all conditions and pointed out that the issue was not one of manpower but one of “resources and investment”.
“I welcome the debate, but in 2008 we had funding of €20 million to spend on our roads. Now it is €14 million. Further investment in our infrastructure is needed,” he added.
by Alan Jacques