Government in disarray with missing Transport Minister and late response to freeze - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhhgín Ó Caoláin TD has said the Government is in disarray with its late response to the prolonged winter freeze after Environment Minister John Gormley stated on RTÉ this evening (Thursday) that he "doesn't know" where Transport Minister Noel Dempsey is only a few hours after the Taoiseach appointed Minister Gormely to co-ordinate ministerial and local government efforts.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"It beggars belief that Transport Minister Noel Demspey has chosen to stay on his holidays while transport throughout the country is grinding to a halt in the deepest and most prolonged winter freeze since 1963. It is even more incredible that Environment Minister Gormley has stated that he does not know the whereabouts of his colleague Minister Dempsey. This admission came only hours after Minister Gormley was appointed by the Taoiseach to co-ordinate ministerial and local government efforts. How can you co-ordinate with an absent minister?
"The Government has repeatedly cited the shortage of salt, however, experience in other countries shows that sand on its own can be used very effectively to provide surface traction on roads. We have had no adequate explanation as to why this is not being more widely used. That this is even a matter of debate at this stage points up the lateness of the government response.
"I want to pay tribute to local authority workers across the country who have been working hard to keep roads open. It is long past time that Ministers and senior civil servants measured up to that level of commitment." ENDS