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Councillor Ian Lynch has called for a slice of the recent Exchequer surplus to be allocated for vital road maintenance in Clare.

Lynch seeks slice of tax windfall for West Clare roads

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A WEST Clare councillor has made a passionate plea for the region’s roads to receive a slice of the exchequer surplus of €5 billion. 

Strong growth in tax revenue and an end to many Covid supports resulted in an exchequer swing of €12.4 billion at the end of last year from the €7.4 billion deficit recorded in 2021. Given the windfall, Councillor Ian Lynch has written to Ministers Eamon Ryan and Micheál McGrath highlighting the dire state of roads in the West Clare Municipal District.

The Independent member made the case for an injection of €50 million for Clare County Council for road improvements, focusing on vital surface dressing and strengthening improvements. 

In correspondence seen by The Champion, the Kilrush man told the Ministers for Transport and Public Expenditure said: Decades of underinvestment in rural roads no longer allows for these finances to be tucked away for a rainy day the investment in rural roads must be made now. I am calling on your departments to make over €50 million available to Clare County Council for road improvement works, with a focus on road surface and strengthening improvements for 2023.”

The letter outlined that while the West Clare district has 48% of the county’s roads, the level of funding provided by central government allowed just less than 7% of the network to be resurfaced. While the recommendation is that 10% of roads are resurfaced annually, Councillor Lynch told the ministers that the funding provided will only allowed 4% of West Clare roads to be resurfaced, due to the current cost of materials. 

Councillor Lynch detailed the impact of last year’s severe weather on an already strained road network. “2022 saw heavy rainfall levels, flooding and the latter part of the year saw frosty condition,” he said.

“Despite the frost not been overly severe the sub-zero temperatures had a detrimental effect on our rural roads creating large potholes across the network in every municipal district. The current conditions of our roads are having a tremendous impact on our rural communities making the basic of journeys difficult and dangerous, this in not to mention the additional financial burden incurred due to vehicle damage.”

The West Clare member underlined the difficulties caused to the community by the condition of the roads. “County Clare is a rural county where residents, in the most part, dont have the luxury of public transport as other counties have,” he said.

“[This makes] rural Clare especially highly dependent on private car transport. A well maintained and safe road network is vital to rural living.” Councillor Lynch was also critical of the lack of sufficient investment over many years, saying it had resulted in “a large section of the road network in an inferior standard no longer able to withstand the devastating impact of sever weather”. 

He also highlighted the crucial importance of the roads network to the vibrancy of rural Ireland. “Rural Ireland is vital to a sustainable Ireland, rural Ireland is not insignificant. The Department of Agriculture estimates that the agri-food sector contributes €24 billion to the national economy. The government have to invest in rural Ireland to maintain the agri-food sector and its communities. That investment must start will providing a safe road network for all Ireland.”

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