Heated exchanges at Longford County Council meeting over Local Improvement Scheme funding

Brady asks Casey: 'Where are those jobs from Mexico you were supposed to deliver?'

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Proceedings threatened to boil over last night as councillors debated the merits of reintroducing Local Improvement Scheme funding.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is facing mounting calls this week to reintroduce state funding for Local Improvement Schemes following a tense and fiery county council meeting last night.

The Independent Alliance co-founder came under attack from a number of local representatives over calls for the scheme to be reopened.

Many of those calls came from predominantly north Longford based councillors who, not for the first time, raised their concerns over the numbers of applications that were still pending.

Several members said the need to reintroduce dedicated funding for improvement works on predominantly private and non public roadways was becoming increasingly imperative for rural communities.

Leading that charge was Cllr Paraic Brady as he read out a motion on behalf of the six members of Granard Municipal District.

"Everyone knows north Longford has the largest road structure and we have 80 or so LIS alone," he said.

"We have to do something and I am calling on Shane Ross to consider bringing back LIS grants."

Cllrs PJ Reilly and Luie McEntire both endorsed those urgings with the latter taking issue with the increased onus on councils to allocate monies from their own optional reserves.

"I think we have to grasp this nettle a lot stronger than we have been doing," said Cllr McEntire.

"We keep hearing that it (LIS) is at our own discretion but it is not at our own discretion."

As tensions grew steadily more noticeable, others like Fine Gael's Colm Murray took issue with recent comments which had been attributed to the Transport Minister.

He questioned the merit of Mr Ross' decision to wade in on debates surrounding the control over judicial appointments and President Donald Trump, claiming the Independent politician would be better served "looking after his own department".

That drew a terse reaction from Mr Ross' independent counterpart Cllr Mark Casey.

He said LIS had been in operation during the Fianna Fail led administration of 2008-11 with no sign of its reintroduction over the past six years under Fine Gael.

Cllr Casey insisted Mr Ross had inherited a "basket case" from both those administrations as he questioned why councillors were at pains to lambast the Independent Alliance given the recent funding announcements made another Alliance member, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran TD.

"Shane Ross has taken over a huge mess from what went before," said the Lanesboro politician.

In a comical outburst which provoked glaring looks from those sitting in the Fine Gael benches, Cllr Casey invited councillors to sidestep their own Dail deputies and instead contact Mr Moran himself concerning issues of a local nature.

"I can't understand it, I really can't. Every rep I went to the Boxer with I have got a good result from. Listen, it's (086) that's the number you need to call if you want something done in Longford.

"He can't look into his crystal ball unless you contact him."

Clearly taken aback by those goadings, Cllr Brady hit back and challenged Cllr Casey as to the economic fruits which came from a council led delegation to Mexico in 2015.

"That's fine," he shouted across at Clle Casey.

"You might mention to Boxer about that trip to Mexico and these jobs you were supposed to deliver because you certainly didn't deliver them."

For more on this story, see next week's Longford Leader.