Your roads are deplorable but we won’t be fixing them was the message from Roads Service at a recent DEA meeting in south Armagh, claims Sinn Fein’s Megan Fearon.
Ms Fearon has said parties with an austerity ideology must be rejected if South Armagh is to get the investment it needs.
She made her comments following a DEA meeting between south Armagh councillors and Roads Service officials and said she was appalled by reports councillors had given her of the meeting.
“While I suppose it’s some sort of improvement that Roads Service bothered to attend this DEA meeting, unlike the last one they were invited to, the message they had for councillors was appalling,” she said.
“Essentially they acknowledged that the roads in south Armagh are in a deplorable state but warned that they won’t be fixing them any time soon.
“Officials said that while they had received extra money last year it was now gone and that the body was now back to operating a skeleton staff.
“They warned that new operating procedures meant that potholes would not be dealt with until they are at least 4 inches deep and that inspections on roads would now only be carried out twice a year rather than three times a year.
“In practical terms this means that were they to check a three and a half inch pothole on your road today the next time they would look at it would be October.
“They also warned that unclassified roads were not likely to be fixed at all, an absolutely unacceptable decision given that some 62% of roads in the Slieve Gullion DEA are rated ‘unclassified.’
“Most worryingly of all was their admission that no money had been set aside for winter treatments such as salting and that there was only money for one grass cutting operation this year.
“This issue in particular goes beyond the very legitimate concerns of damage to cars, tourism and the economy and goes right to the heart of community safety. This is a shocking mismanagement of the budget and will put lives at risk.
“While the lack of provision for winter maintenance speaks for itself, only having one grass cutting is also incredibly dangerous. Last year we had numerous accidents and near misses caused by road signs and warnings being obscured by overgrowth.
“This is the legacy left by former Roads Minister Danny Kennedy and the savage cuts on public services by his Conservative sister party in England.
“These cuts affect us all, irrespective of political opinion and the only way the people of South Armagh, and indeed all of Ireland, will get the services they deserve, is to reject the parties who support this austerity ideology and return an increased Sinn Féin team to the Assembly.”