Written Answers. - Road Maintenance.

394.

asked the Minister for the Environment if he will agree that there is an increase in claims due to a lack of funds being provided by his Department to carry out a proper road repair programme under the Dundalk Urban District Council, Louth County Council, and Drogheda Corporation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The question of claims for damages is a matter for the local authorities concerned. Primary responsibility for the maintenance of roads also rests with local authorities. State funds are not provided specifically for maintenance of roads other than national routes. Local authorities have, however, wide discretion in the location and choice of works to be undertaken from the general block grant for roads allocated annually by my Department. The block grants payable to Dundalk UDC, Louth County Council and Drogheda Corporation this year are, on average, 11 per cent greater than the corresponding amounts provided in 1984.

395.

asked the Minister for the Environment if he will agree that the present system operated by local authorities for the repairing of potholes is inefficient, ineffective and financially wasteful; if his Department have any regulations dealing with this subject, and if so what these regulations are, if his Department are satisfied that these regulations are being complied with; if no such regulations exist if he will undertake in conjunction with An Foras Forbartha to initiate a proper programme of repairing roads based on a more effective method of repair and material usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I cannot accept the general implication in the Deputy's question. Primary responsibility for the maintenance of public roads rests with local authorities. The function of my Department in this area is to assist local authorities in the performance of their statutory responsibilities by ensuring that they have adequate legislative powers; by offering technical and administrative advice in relation to road standards etc. and by providing financial assistance for the maintenance of roads other than county roads. An Foras Forbartha also provide advice to local authorities concerning the maintenance of roads.

While there are no statutory regulations covering the subject, a surface dressing manual issued by my Department in 1981 includes recommendations regarding pothole repairs. The extent to which these recommendations are followed is mainly a matter for each local authority.

In general, the standard of maintenance of national roads is satisfactory, while the standard of maintenance of non-national main roads is somewhat less than satisfactory in certain instances only. In accordance with established practice, the maintenance of county roads is entirely a matter for local authorities.