asked the Minister for Local Government why he refused to meet a deputation from Clare County Council to discuss a proposal from the council for an increased grant to improve the Ennis/Kilrush road.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Clare Road.
I allocated Road Fund grants of £762,000 to Clare County County Council for the current year, as compared with £563,500 in 1976, which was an increase of £198,500. When the council indicated their desire to have a further grant made for the Ennis-Kilrush road, I indicated to them on 18th March that although I am always pleased to meet members of the council, there is no way open to me at present to make further increased road grants available and, accordingly, the reception of a deputation, as suggested to them, could not serve the purpose they sought. I also told them that when determining the Road Fund grants for 1978, I will give due consideration to the special needs of the Ennis/Kilrush road and I pointed out that for the current year it is open to them to continue to apply funds from their own resources supplemented by the block grant to improving this road. The block grant totals £425,000, which is an increase of £50,000 on 1976.
Is the Minister aware of the very bad condition of this road? Is he also aware that it is mitigating against the attraction of industry to the west Clare area? Would he not consider that there is a case here for a special grant for this stretch of road?
I am very surprised that the Deputy should put this question down because he was more aware of the situation than perhaps many other people. I am sure he is also aware that the improvement of the Ennis/ Kilrush road did not warrant priority over the improvement of the national primary Ennis/Shannon/Limerick road for which a grant of £90,000 was allocated in 1977. I do not know whether Deputy Daly is suggesting to me that, instead of putting it on that road, it should have gone on the other, the subject of his question. Clare could not get grants of that magnitude for both. They have got £198,500 more than they got last year. They can allocate some of their block grant to doing this road if the local council consider it is that important. The subject of the question is whether or not I should have met a deputation. My point was that there was no use meeting a deputation to tell them that; I told them in my letter. Any local authority wanting to send a deputation to Dublin to discuss any matter with me—provided they consider it is worth spending ratepayers' money on —is entitled to do so and I will meet them. But I want to make it very clear first that they know what is the situation.
Would the Minister meet a deputation at this stage?
I will meet a deputation from any local authority if the local authority want it. However, I want to tell the House and Deputy Daly now that there is no money out of which they can get a grant for this year. They have been told this by letter; if they want to come and hear it from me, perhaps——
Would the Minister give it to them next year?
I will consider giving it to them next year because I consider it an important road.