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Category Archives: Road Safety

Clonmel, 18 th February, 2018- An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s spin machine, “The Strategic Communications Unit”, funded by taxpayers, choreographed the launch of the National Planning Framework: Project Ireland 2040 on Friday. A more realistic title would read, “National Planning Framework: Pie-in- the-Sky- 2040”. Despite the hype and the fan-fare, the Fine Gael plan has almost entirely snubbed County Tipperary. Like Fianna Fáil’s National Spatial Strategy before it, no Tipperary town is earmarked as a growth centre or prioritised for investment or job creation.
Instead, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Athlone, Letterkenny, Drogheda and Dundalk are the urban areas favoured for future growth.
This means these towns and cities will have key strategic and economic advantages over all towns in County Tipperary.
Put another way, Tipperary towns will be systematically discriminated against.
In effect, Limerick, Cork and Waterford in particular will suck the lifeblood, the investment, the growth and the jobs from Tipperary.
Motorway status for the N24 Roadway has also been ignored for the umpteenth time. The N24 is a key economic and social driver for the South of the County but it is also sub-standard and is dangerous in many areas.
Tipperary town will continue to be choked by thousands of vehicles including heavy goods vehicles driving through its main street. There will be no by-pass either for Carrick-on- Suir.
The Fine Gael/Independent Alliance government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has made a deliberate political choice to discriminate against Tipperary.
The plan in reality re-announces 179 projects and €40 billion expenditure, with the rest fuzzy, un-costed and with little or no time-line.
Expenditure of €116 billion is used to give the impression of a significant increase in spending but when population growth and use of Gross National Income instead of Gross Domestic Product are taken into account, the investment proposed is modest at best, rising from 2.9% in 2018 to 4.1% in 2027, still below the European average.
The much-hyped Climate and Energy section of the plan will, by the Taoiseach’s own admission, miss the EU Climate and Energy agreed targets by a whopping 60%. He also raised the prospect of new taxes in this area.
And the plan’s promises on housing are frankly, incredible, given the governments appalling record to date. Fine Gael has presided over an unprecedented Housing and Homelessness crisis, with sky-high rents, continued repossessions and home ownership being out of the reach of ordinary families.
The Government are fooling no-one with this plan.
I will be raising these issues strongly on the floor of the Dáil during the week and demanding the inclusion of growths centres in Co. Tipperary and the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status.
Deputy Seamus Healy
087 2802199
052 6121883

I welcome the motion, which I will support. I will also support the Sinn Féin amendment. It is fine for Deputies living in Dublin and other major cities but if they had to drive around rural constituencies every week, as rural Deputies must, they would find that local and regional roads are in an atrocious condition. It is barely possible to drive on many of them and the rural bus service about which Deputy Eamon Ryan spoke cannot operate on some of them because they are so bad. From Carrick-on-Suir to Gortnahoe and Littleton, from Ballingarry to Hollyford and Upperchurch and from Clogheen to Lower Ormond, the roads are in a disgraceful condition. As a former Ceann Comhairle and Tipperary man, the Deputy Séan Treacy, once said, one could bury one of Burke’s pigs in the potholes in Tipperary. One could now bury a lorry load of Burke’s pigs in the potholes of the county’s local and regional roads. The position is so bad the chief executive officer of Tipperary County Council, Mr. Joe McGrath, wrote to Deputies about two weeks ago stating the following:
[I]t is acknowledged that there has been an accelerating deterioration in regional and local roads which is directly attributable to the deficit in investment on these roads over successive years during the economic downturn. the investment deficit on roads (ie the amount of spend necessary to restore these roads to an acceptable standard and within an acceptable timeframe) in Tipperary is estimated at €180 million.
Mr. McGrath was referring to regional and local roads as opposed to motorways. The condition of these roads is exacerbated by repeated incidence of flooding and extreme weather events. Mr. McGrath also noted that for comparison purposes, “the total national allocation of €416.8 million for 2018 is still only about tow thirds of the Non National roads Allocation in 2008”. We have a serious problem with local and regional roads.
We should remember that these are the roads on which people living locally go to work and school, do their business, farm, shop and go to sports fixtures or religious events. They use them in normal daily living and in very many cases their cars are being damaged, with people hardly able to drive on some of the roads because they are so bad. We need an emergency allocation of funding for these roads immediately. We need the Minister and his Government to honour the commitment made in the programme for Government to increase funding for these roads by 50%.
In the minute or so left to me, I want to refer to the N24. As the Minister knows very well, the N24 is a social and economic lifeline for the south east, including Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford city and county. It is not fit for purpose and despite its importance, the N24 suffers from slow journey times and is substandard in its design and alignment. It is congested where it is routed through a number of towns and villages, including Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. The vitality and growth of those towns and villages on that route is also dependent on the removal of heavy traffic from them. For example, thousands of vehicles, including huge lorries, are going straight through the main street in Tipperary town on a daily basis. They are destroying businesses, roads and the town. We have been seeking a bypass of the town for over 20 years and it is now time to deliver on it. We certainly hope it will be in the capital programme to be announced next Friday. The N24 is substandard but it is vital to the south-east area. A bypass is also needed for Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.
We need an emergency allocation for the local and regional roads and we want the 50% increase that was promised delivered immediately. When the chief executive of the local authority wrote to us, he said he had written to the Minister, Deputy Ross, seeking agreement to meet to outline the accelerated deterioration in parts of the road network, with particular emphasis on non-national roads.
I ask the Minister to accede to the request to meet a deputation from Tipperary.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Road Traffic Bill 2016 and I welcome most of its provisions. The purpose of the legislation is to improve safety on our roads and reduce fatalities and injuries to road users by introducing several measures. They are the detection of drug driving via mandatory testing; the creation of new offences for driving or being in charge of a vehicle under the influence of specified drugs; the lowering of the speed limit in estates to 20 km/h, which I will come back to; and the agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom on mutual recognition of driving disqualifications, which is very welcome.

I congratulate the road safety organisation, Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care on our Roads, PARC, which was established in 2006 by Susan Gray, who lost her husband in a road traffic accident in Inishowen in County Donegal. The group comprises people who have been affected by road traffic accidents and has been campaigning since 2006 on various road safety issues. It supports families of road traffic victims and has been involved in a series of very successful campaigns, including the mandatory testing of drivers involved in fatal and serious collisions, which was introduced in June 2011. They were also involved in the campaign to test unconscious and incapacitated drivers in fatal and serious collisions and the law was changed in that regard in November 2014. They published a booklet called Finding Your Way, for families affected by road traffic accidents, which is widely available to all stakeholders, including gardaí, and is updated on a regular basis.

I acknowledge the work done by that organisation, particularly by Susan Grey who founded it, and the work of the people working with it throughout the country. They include Mr. Alec Lee from Clonmel in my constituency. I should also mention the good work that Deputy Broughan has been doing in conjunction with PARC for a number of years.

The Minister should have bitten the bullet on the housing estate issue and made the 20 kp/h speed limit mandatory. Young Jake Brennan died at six years of age following a road traffic accident in a housing estate. His family have been campaigning for some time for the introduction of mandatory 20 kp/h speed limits. The opportunity to do that in this Bill has been lost. The current position is that local authorities have the option to introduce a speed limit of 30 kp/h. The Minister has reduced that to 20 kp/h in this legislation but the record of local authorities on the 30 kp/h limit is woeful. In fact, few, if any, changes in that regard have come through local authorities over the years. This option has been available to them since 2014 and the guidelines were updated and reintroduced in 2015 but it is all on the basis of it being an option and encouraging local authorities to do it or recommending that it be done. However, it has not happened in the case of the 30 kp/h limit and I am certain there will be no hunger to do it, certainly at local authority official level, in the case of the 20 kp/h limit. There is still time for the Minister to change that provision in the Bill and to make the 20 kp/h limit mandatory. As mentioned by Deputies Eamon Ryan and Catherine Murphy, the redesign of estates and of traffic within estates together with a mandatory 20 kp/h limit would be hugely advantageous for residents, their families and particularly for cyclists and pedestrians. I hope that during the progress of the Bill through the Oireachtas the Minister might take the view that this provision should be made mandatory.

There is another issue relating to road safety worth mentioning, although it is not mentioned in the Bill. I raise it particularly in the context of my constituency of Tipperary. It is the repair, maintenance and standard of roads in the country. The woeful standard and the lack of repair give rise to potholed roads, with the roads almost undermined, difficult to travel and in many cases causing serious difficulties in vehicles. There can also be road traffic accidents as a result of the condition of the roads. This issue must be addressed urgently. It is a question of funding and resourcing local authorities to enable them to maintain and upgrade the roads.

The Minister has been in Tipperary and visited Tipperary County Council in Clonmel on 28 July. The situation in Tipperary is quite clear. Even though there was a Minister and a Minister of State from Tipperary in the previous Government, the county fell behind significantly with regard to roads funding. The ratings for the various road categories in Tipperary compare very unfavourably with the national mean. For example, local primary roads are 5% less than the mean, local secondary roads are 11% less than the mean and local tertiary roads are a full 17% less than the national mean. The reason is that the roads grants profile for Tipperary from 2007 to 2015 has been one of continuous reductions. In 2007, the regional and local grants amounted to €608 million while in 2015 they were down to €294 million. The amount was more than halved in that period. Various other grants show similar reductions. For example, regional and local road grants for restoration and improvement went down from €13.6 million in 2007 to €8.6 million in 2016 while regional and local road grants for restoration and maintenance went down from €4.7 million in 2007 to €2.4 million in 2016. In fairness to Tipperary County Council, it increased the resources from the county to provide for roads by almost €1 million over that period. There is a huge need for additional funding for roads in County Tipperary. The Minister has been made aware of the situation and I hope that in the forthcoming budget he will be in a position to increase the road grants for the county significantly to ensure that the standard and maintenance of roads in the county are at a reasonable level.

I should mention the N24 national primary road which runs through Tipperary. As I told the Minister in Clonmel, it is a significant economic and social corridor for the area but it is also a very dangerous road. There have been significant road traffic collisions on the road, many of them sadly fatal. Promises and commitments have been made to provide bypasses for both Tipperary town, where the traffic comes right through its centre, and Carrick-on-Suir. I ask the Minister to address that matter as well.

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