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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 24 Feb 1999

Vol. 158 No. 7

Road Development Programmes: Motion.

I move:

That Seanad Éireann welcomes the increased allocations for road investment in 1999; calls for further acceleration of the road development programmes; and requests the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to make a statement in the matter.

There have been significant increases in funding in 1999 for national and non-national routes. I welcome the announcement of these record allocations this year. The Minister has correctly pointed out the need to ensure that the funds are expended in an efficient and cost-effective manner. In that regard, I welcome the establishment of the implementation group which will oversee the recent report on efficiency in local government.

This year national roads will receive investment totalling £337 million. Most of that sum, £312 million, will go towards improvements while £25 million will be spent on maintenance. This represents a significant 17 per cent increase on the 1998 figures at a time when inflation is between 1 and 2 per cent. The investment in national routes will ensure the commencement of major projects this year, including the Drogheda bypass, the Limerick southern ring road, the Newmarket-on-Fergus and Hurlers Cross scheme and bypasses of Croom and Kilmacthomas. Work will continue on the Dunleer-Dundalk motorway, the southern cross route in Dublin and the bypasses of Nenagh and Blackpool in Cork. The increased allocation will also facilitate the completion of the River Lee tunnel and the bypasses at Arklow, Donegal and Cavan. All these projects are welcome.

In the past there has been criticism that the investment in non-national roads has not been sufficient to meet requirements. This year there is a significant increase to a total of £237 million, which is a 19 per cent increase on the 1998 figures. A total of £138 million will go towards restoration works on regional and local roads. Another good initiative taken by the Minister is that county councils will be obliged to have multi-annual road works programmes which prioritise projects. This forward planning will facilitate the focusing of investment on areas of real need in the future.

The funds for maintenance works this year have increased by 36 per cent for the restoration programme and by 32 per cent for the discretionary maintenance grants. The discretionary maintenance grants are useful to county councils in addressing areas of significant need in their counties. The urban authorities received a 43 per cent increase on the 1998 allocation. This money will be put to good use in many towns, including my area which received a significant increase. This was welcomed by the urban council and will be targeted at areas which have been in need of restoration and improvement for many years.

This investment is set against the background of the importance of transport to the economy. Approximately 89 per cent of goods are carried on national routes. The need for upgraded roads is irrefutable. This is more important for a small island country such as Ireland which is unable to avail of the benefits of rail transport because the distances are too short. As a result, rail is always uncompetitive for short hauls in comparison to road transport. The argument that we should shift the transportation of some goods to rail will always be weak because logistics dictate the position. If anything, there will be only a marginal shift and, therefore, rail will never be a substitute for heavy investment in roads.

In terms of pay back to the economy, the programme put forward by the National Roads Authority is probably not as ambitious as one would like. It targets expenditure of £6 billion up to the year 2019. However, this is against the background of inadequate and insufficient investment over decades by the Minister's predecessors. This applies to successive Governments, particularly those in the 1970s and 1980s. I have always decried the terrible profligacy which took place in the mid-1980s. At that time, the budget deficit was increased from £12 billion to £24 billion. This placed an intolerable burden on the Exchequer in terms of funding the loan repay ments in future years. The money was, in the main, put towards current expenditure. If it had been targeted and invested in improving the road infrastructure, there would be a pay back today which would more than offset the imposition of interest and capital repayments that must be made. I hope the Minister will continue that type of forward thinking.

It is essential in a trading economy such as Ireland's that the necessary infrastructure is in place to facilitate efficient and cost effective trading. This adds to the competitiveness of the country as an efficient trading nation. When one travels in any part of the country, one must be disappointed at the failure to meet this challenge over decades. It is self-evident that this problem cannot be resolved overnight. In this day and age it should be possible for one to travel all the way from the capital city to the next major centre of population, Cork, or to Belfast on motorways. However, that is far from the case at present. If it was possible it would bring about a tremendous reduction in the travelling time for individuals but particularly for goods vehicles and commercial traffic which are essential to the economic activity and profitability of companies. Motorways and good access routes would significantly reduce the time taken on these routes and time is money nowadays in business. The cost of transportation is all imported, whether it is the wear and tear on vehicles, the fuel used or the vehicles themselves, and that heavy toll is money spent on imported products. If we had the facilities here we could have a significant reduction in this area.

The Minister has an unenviable task in the challenges before him because the two biggest issues likely to be with us over the next decade or more are improvements in road infrastructure and the provision of accommodation at an acceptable and affordable level, and these are set against increased affluence and an increase in population. The number of car registrations is to increase by approximately 60 per cent in a decade from last year and the population is to grow by 700,000. All that will put demands on existing road and housing infrastructure. The Minister will have everybody's support in his efforts to seek that the enlightened policies are in place to ensure we meet the challenge and that the resources are provided to give impetus to that policy.

The road infrastructure, particularly around the capital city, highlights the failure to plan. The Department of the Environment and Local Government, the corporation, state agencies and probably political leaders in the past failed to anticipate the need for a proper sophisticated and modern road infrastructure commensurate with the developing economy we have today. The M50, which is a significant improvement in getting around the capital city, needs to be augmented by an inner relief route, such as the Dublin port tunnel. If one is travelling to or around the city, one should be able to operate on motorway standard roads which allow reasonably close access to one's destination rather than the congestion we have. In that regard it is important best international practices are applied and planners who have failed us in the past are not allowed to continue to repeat the mistakes. Perhaps they should be replaced by more competent people to ensure the mistakes – one of which I see every day at the Red Cow Inn – are not repeated. There are sufficient models, on continental Europe and elsewhere, for us to avoid that type of mistake being made. It was a fairly recent mistake and we cannot afford that type of thing.

It is also important that the improvements are sustainable; by that I mean improvements made now should not have to be rectified in ten to 20 years. When I travel around the country I see many examples of road improvements undertaken ten to 20 or 25 years ago which are now inadequate and need to be realigned. If we have proper planning with a 60 to 80 year time horizon there is no way that should happen.

Overnight lorry parks are necessary to comply with legislation for the transport industry. Road haulage and other bodies have articulated this need. I know planning authorities, because of restrictions on access to national routes, are often the obstacle to these things but we must have all the other necessary facilities.

When I talk about best practice on road improvement, it applies equally to maintenance. There are many examples around the country. The Minister provided a good increase in money this year, but it is very important that it is spent wisely. There are many examples of a huge disparity in the quality of roads between one engineer's area and another. Obviously money is one aspect, but the human resource and the competence of our engineers and local authorities is fundamental to getting the benefit from it.

Gabhaim buíochas don Aire teacht anseo chun freagra a thabhairt don tairiscint seo.

I second the motion. I thank the Minister for coming to the House to reply to the motion before us tonight. The Minister, coming from a background of being a local authority member for most of his life, knows exactly what we are speaking about tonight. In every county council the major problem at every meeting is the condition of roads and the money required for them.

Since the Minister took over his portfolio as Minister for the Environment and Local Government, he has put a benchmark in place which others will have a hard time following. As I remember, in his first year he gave almost two years' allocation for road improvements. There is no doubt the work undertaken by local authorities is of such a huge scale it will take a number of years before we can reap the benefits. However we can see it. I find great fault with parts of the road to Dublin; every Senator does. However on the way to Dublin, I have seen work progressing on a Limerick bypass from Adare to Limerick; that is a major bypass. I do not know how many miles it is but it is probably 15 or 20 miles of new road. At Nenagh work is progressing on another bypass and further up the road there is more. It appears that in about three or four years time, there will be a major road from Dublin all the way to Limerick. Hopefully it will be a safe road and will shorten our travelling time.

A recent worry which has arisen concerns the western corridor. Many people in the west are worried that a major road from Waterford to Dublin leaves a whole section of Munster – Cork, Kerry and Limerick – out on a limb without any road planning. I have been to a few meetings about this and have listened to people. Recently in Killarney there was a meeting with Cork-Kerry Tourism and they raised the matter of the western corridor from Waterford bypassing part of Munster.

I have another gripe and it is definitely not with the Minister. I have written on several occasions to the NRA making representations for sections of road and asking when they will be completed. I know they have reports and that everything is all laid out on a map. However in the past, Ministers – especially Ministers with responsibility for fisheries – gave the Seanad a commitment that all roads serving fishery harbour centres would get priority in any plans being drawn up.

The roads leading to and from the six major fishery harbour centres, with the exception of Howth, are in very poor condition. This is a big problem because the fish from these major harbour centres must be transported in containers by road to the Continent. Killybegs, which has probably the worst stretch of road for articulated trucks, is furthest from a port. The road serving Rossaveel fishery harbour centre in the west of Ireland is in a very bad condition. The third fishery centre is Castletownbere. Given the bad condition of the roads serving this harbour centre, driving a truck from Castletownbere to Cork with 30 tonnes of fish is unbelievable. At least 20 trucks must travel to and from Castletownbere every day. The road between Dunmore East and Waterford is in a pretty grim state, as is a 30 mile stretch of road to Dingle.

I appeal to the Minister to use his good offices to ensure that these roads are upgraded. My information from the NRA is that no major improvements to the road serving Dingle will take place until the year 2007. In the meantime, I appeal to the Minister to allocate money to ensure the roads serving Killybegs, Rossaveel, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Dingle are upgraded.

I concur with Senator Walsh that articulated trucks and so on need overnight parking facilities, given that drivers can drive legally only for a limited number of hours.

Coastal roads throughout the country are very important and I ask the Minister to bear this in mind. I congratulate him on the work he is doing.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after "Seanad Éireann" and substitute the following:

"condemns the Government for inadequate funding in the road allocation for 1999 and requests the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to substantially increase the allocation in line with the increased demands on the road network".

This is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Fianna Fáil motion. The reason for the amendment is to state clearly, and put on the record, that while the increase of 17 per cent is very welcome, it will not meet the demands, and I am not talking only about normal demands. If the Minister casts his mind back over the past two years, weather conditions have been so bad and the roads have deteriorated to such an extent that the increased allocation will not meet the targets established. I understand the expenditure necessary was in the region of £400 million and this will not be met within the next few years.

Much of this debate is a rehash of a debate which took place in this House concerning the National Roads Authority. The two previous speakers supported my amendment by naming various places where there are inadequate road structures. I could also name such places, but I will refrain from doing so.

Senator Walsh mentioned rail lines and roads. Rail lines do not extend to areas that need to be developed. They serve only the major routes such as Galway-Dublin, Limerick-Dublin, Cork-Dublin and Sligo-Dublin. This ensures that industrial development will locate in these areas. If industrial development is to be extended to other areas, we must put an adequate road structure in place. For example, during the debate on the National Roads Authority, I said that the Authority is answerable to no one. My views in this regard are well known. It is not known how the NRA prioritises its work. It wants to establish a 55 m.p.h. speed limit throughout the country, but I do not think it will meet this target.

I ask the Minister and the National Roads Authority to consider extending the Galway road to south Connemara and designating it a national primary route. This is an economic necessity and is of commercial importance to Connemara, which is devastated in terms of population as a result of the lack of employment. In spite of the good work of Údarás, it cannot attract new industries because of the bottlenecks back into Galway city. In order to ensure the viability and economic success of Údarás in south Connemara, I ask the Minister to ensure that businesses can transport their goods through Galway city and on to Dublin or other destinations in the shortest possible time, and not be held up for three to four hours.

The reason the 17 per cent increase will not meet the targets set out is that the roads have been eroded over the past two years. However, the Government cannot be blamed for this. A gentleman who is involved in the road haulage business told me that he is considering getting out of business or moving house because he has to replace the car axle on a constant basis. The road is now being developed, but not as a result of the goodwill of the Department of the Environment and Local Government; it is being developed by people who have businesses on the route. This development is being privately funded – something the Government should consider – and will cost in excess of £700,000, of which only £40,000 will be allocated by the Department of the Environment and Local Government. Most of the work is being carried out by the quarry owner who is supplying the materials free and it is being supervised by the local authority. If these people did not come together, the work would not take place and this man would have had to move his business. I have come to the conclusion that Ministers' cars have very good suspensions, otherwise they would know what the roads are really like.

Will the Minister consider introducing a charter of motorists' rights? Criteria should be set as to the rights of motorists on the length of time it should take to get from one place to another and the alleviation of traffic jams, given the cost of taxation and so on. I compliment the Minister on granting funding from taxation to local authorities, which will be beneficial. Some 61 per cent of car tax goes to Government funds. People who contribute this money should have certain rights. A number of local authorities had difficulty reaching their funding target. When a local authority makes an application, it adds on a little extra in the hope that it will get what it really wants. However, those to which I spoke said that they would not reach their targets even by adding on a little and they have been left short in funding for footpaths. Will the Minister consider increasing the allocations for footpaths, etc?

I cannot understand why it is necessary for the NRA to decide where the priorities are. The coastal and western corridors between places such as Killarney, Limerick, Galway and Sligo are critical, as has been pointed out, and it is essential for the economic development of these areas that people are able to move around. For example, if one travels between Galway and Shannon, which has the nearest international airport, the road is similar to the parson's egg, which is only good in spots. The Minister is familiar with other areas. The Kilbeggan bypass is going ahead and that is to be welcomed. Everybody will tell the Minister that, but once the bypass has been opened and one continues west, one will be in a bottleneck again for approximately eight miles. While the Minister's allocation is generous, it will not meet the current need.

I second the amendment which is not a knee-jerk reaction. This year is the centen ary of the establishment of county councils. On 22 April 1899 the first meeting of Mayo County Council took place. This year, as a special once off, the Minister should double funding to local authorities. This is the era of the Celtic tiger and I do not see why funding cannot be increased. I welcome the 17 per cent increase in this year's allocation but the Minister should have made it a special year for local authorities and doubled their funding.

Senator Coogan tabled the amendment because there is an outcry about the state of our county roads in particular. There are three road categories, national primary, national secondary and county. While I was amused to hear Senator Fitzgerald giving out because the roads around Dingle will not be improved until 2007, a major part of the national primary route from Longford to Westport, between Charlestown and Strokestown, will not receive funding for 20 years.

Major funding needs to be pumped into our road structure. There has been a huge increase in traffic throughout the country. Five years ago the average number of cars per 100 people in Ireland was 27 while the European average was between 50 and 55 cars. We are approaching the European average now and this will put unbelievable pressure on our roads. All of us can see as we travel to and from Dublin that traffic is getting heavier by the day. The length of time to complete the journey is increasing. Since I started travelling to Dublin, despite improvements to various parts of the route, the journey time has increased by 30 minutes because of extra traffic.

Nobody is enamoured with the job being done by the NRA, although I appreciate it has carried out some good planning. The money pumped into national secondary routes amounts to little or nothing. While the allocation of £1 million this year to upgrade a road from Castlebar is welcome, County Mayo probably has the greatest number of miles of secondary road in the country, but it gets little or no funding for them. The money available for such road improvements amounts to £18 million, but it is absolutely useless given the area that must be covered. I hope the Minister increases that funding significantly.

When the rainbow coalition assumed power more than four years ago the state of our county roads was unbelievable.

They were also bad when the party left Government.

It was the biggest issue for members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party. A great deal of pressure was put on the Government to raise extra funding and it increased the price of petrol by 10p per gallon. Those funds were pumped into county roads. The Government, particularly the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, devised a set of regulations to govern the roads that would be covered. There has been a significant improve ment in our roads since then. The extra funding which has been continued by this Government, has considerably improved these roads.

However, our roads have deteriorated drastically again this year because the weather was bad, with the result that several county councils have called on the Department to provide extra funding over and above the 17 per cent increase in this year's allocation. That would go some way towards alleviating the problem. Weather conditions were severe with heavy rainfall, especially in recent months. The Minister will have no option but to grant significant extra funding to put county roads on a sound footing to counteract this problem before next winter. We will be faced with a severe headache in 12 months if roads remain in their current state.

Many developers work from county roads and national secondary routes and there should be a set of rules relating to public lighting, footpaths, etc. Local authorities differ in terms of the conditions they attach to planning applications. Will the Minister provide a set of guidelines for them? It behoves every developer to contribute to the extension of sewerage facilities, public lighting and footpaths in urban areas. The Minister should consider doubling the allocation to local authorities, especially as this is the centenary of the establishment of county councils.

I welcome the opportunity to address the Seanad on the important issue of national and non-national roads. At the launch of the non-national roads programme recently, more than one local authority made the point that it was at the limit of its capabilities to spend the money allocated to it, particularly for non-national roads and water and sewerage schemes.

Some Senators asked for the amount spent on non-national roads to be doubled. Even though this sounds like a wonderful idea and I could do it very easily I know that local authorities would not have the capacity to spend the money by the end of the year. Since I took office we have gradually but very significantly increased the amount of money that has been made available to local authorities. There have been increases of as much as 17 and 18 per cent and in some cases 36 and 32 per cent for maintenance. These increases are larger than was put in place before. These amounts of money are in sharp contrast to what was available in 1997 when I took office. I find it hard to believe, despite what my friends and colleagues in Opposition say, that this Fine Gael motion is not a knee-jerk reaction to a Fianna Fáil Government sponsored one. I would never accuse the Senators of telling lies in the House but I find it hard to believe them in this instance.

I agree with Senators that transport is crucial to Ireland's economic and social development. A safe and very efficient road network is a key ingredient for economic success and enhanced levels of personal mobility. Road transport in Ireland has been closely tracking the country's sustained economic growth. The traffic volumes forecast in 1994 for the year 1999 were already a reality by 1996. The Irish economy has been outgrowing its infrastructure and the challenge is to ensure that the road investment programmes respond quickly to new demands.

Senator Walsh commented on the lack of forward planning and the inability to put roads infrastructure in place. In hindsight everyone is wise and knows that we should have put all this infrastructure in place whether it is water, sewerage, roads, etc. Money was scarcer then than it is now. All the experts are now telling us that we got it wrong no matter what side of the House we were on, but we based the expenditure on our maintenance costs and on the projections they gave us. Unfortunately, quite a few of their projections were wrong and none more so than in the roads and infrastructure areas. Everyone would agree that we have an infrastructural problem and I do not want to minimise it.

While the road network has always been critical to the nation's success and prosperity, it was only in 1989 – ten years ago – that a concerted effort began to provide Ireland with the road infrastructure necessary to support our aspirations for economic and social development. That year marked the start of a period of increased EU and Exchequer resources for roads and other transport infrastructure, to be applied through the mechanism of multi-annual investment programmes – first the Operational Programme on Peripherality 1989-1993 and then the Operational Programme for Transport 1994-1999.

The sea change inaugurated by these programmes, and built on by other later initiatives such as the restoration programme commenced by the previous Government, is evidenced by the fact that in real terms spending on total road investment in 1999 will be more than twice that of 1990. Much has been achieved and is being achieved with this investment. The House will be aware of the transformation that has occurred in many parts of the national road network as a result of investment since 1989. I am speaking not just about the flagship projects, such as the recently completed bypasses of Arklow and Balbriggan and the soon to be finished Lee tunnel and Cavan, Curlews and Donegal bypasses; I am also referring to many smaller projects which have brought welcome benefits to a large number of areas.

The importance which I and the Government attach to investment in national roads can be seen in the fact that a record sum of £312 million is being provided for this purpose in 1999 by way of funding to NRA and local authorities. This represents an increase of 37 per cent on the 1997 figure which means that almost £82 million more has been provided this year than was provided two years ago.

With regard to non-national roads, I am delighted that I was able to provide over £237 million for these roads in 1999, an increase of over £37 million or nearly 19 per cent on the original 1998 allocation of almost £200 million, which was also a record. In the two years since I have occupied this office there has been an increase of £64 million made available for non-national roads. That is a huge amount of money by anyone's standards, even by the standards of the Celtic tiger about which Opposition Senators spoke.

The figure of £64 million excludes the local improvements scheme and the 1999 allocations which will be announced shortly by my colleague the Minister with responsibility for house and urban renewal, Deputy Molloy. In making that record provision I was fulfilling the Government's commitment to ensure additional funding for non-national roads. I am also glad I was able to implement a second key Government commitment which was to finance county road improvements from motor tax receipts through the introduction of a local government fund. I acknowledge the positive remarks made by a Senator in relation to that matter. It is important to tie tax receipts to work that is being carried out on roads.

Senator Burke referred to the restoration programme which began in 1995. I acknowledge that the programme was started by my predecessor, Deputy Howlin, and the previous Government. Its aim is to restore the entire network of regional and local roads in county areas by 2005. The programme continues to be at the cutting edge of the non-national roads effort; the funds available for this programme were increased in 1999 by over £20 million – from £118 million to over £138 million. This is firm evidence of my continuing commitment to restoring the network of regional and county roads throughout the country to a satisfactory condition.

From the launch of this programme in mid-1995 to the end of 1998 more than 15,400 road schemes have been completed, with over 24,300 kilometres of road benefiting or 28 per cent of the entire network of regional and county roads. The restoration programme is now producing the required results, both in terms of value for money and outputs, and local communities are seeing the fruits of the increased expenditure.

The £138 million available for the restoration programme in 1999 will enable further significant progress to be made this year and allow county councils to complete all the improvement schemes identified in their multi-annual programmes for 1999 and 2000. Some councils will be able to complete their schemes up to the year 2002. The ten year programme is transforming the network and, with it, the quality of lives of all those who depend on those roads. The Government is committed to providing sufficient funding to ensure the completion of that programme on target.

Urban roads and footpaths were mentioned. In 1999 the discretionary grants to urban authorities were increased from the initial allocation of £9.7 million in 1998 to £13.9 million in 1999. Those grants will be available to meet the cost of maintenance and improvement works on non-national roads and for a programme of footpath and carriageway repairs. Apart from the increase given to urban authorities, this is the first time provision has specifically been made for footpaths in urban areas. Total allocations for urban authorities will increase by nearly 44 per cent to almost £22 million compared with the initial 1998 position, and that is considerably larger than the figure for 1997. That hugely increased allocation for urban authorities is evidence of my determination to bring these roads to acceptable standards for all who use them. It is important to mention that those specific State grants will be supplemented further by local authorities to the tune of £81 million. That brings the expenditure on non-national roads this year to a total of £318 million. That level of funding by the State and local authorities represents a significant investment in non-national roads and will bring major benefit to the length and breadth of the country. For that reason, I am sure the House will welcome it.

The Seanad will be aware that work is well under way on the preparation of a national development plan for the period 2000-06, which will set the financial framework for road development in the medium term. The NRA's national road needs study, which the House debated last November, will obviously be an important input to the preparation of that plan. I assure Senators that the plan will place specific emphasis on the need for investment in Ireland's physical infrastructure and, as part of this, will provide for further acceleration of road investment programmes. Senator Burke mentioned secondary roads, they are dealt with in the NRA's works programme. However, he is correct in saying, as I said last year, that the amount of money made available to the NRA for national secondary routes needs to be considerably increased precisely for the reasons the Senator and others stated. There is a need to increase it and it is something to which attention will be given. While the amount has been increased, I believe it could be further substantially increased. It would be of benefit mainly to the west because most of that area is served by secondary rather than primary routes.

It is recognised that the response to the growth in transport demand must take account of environmental sustainability and that meeting the growing demand for transport is not just about building more roads. Roads are undoubtedly needed but they must be built in the context of an integrated approach to transport requirements, including improvements in public transport, management of road transport demand, promotion of alternative modes, closer co-ordination of transport and land use planning and improved traffic management. This need for an integrated approach is very evident in major towns and cities where broadly based strategies are required if both mobility and sustainability are to be achieved. We are anxious to fully explore the opportunities of greater private sector involvement in the roads programme. Public-private partnerships are of increasing relevance in the context of diminishing EU funding. They will also allow the harnessing of private sector expertise and project management and implementation. The Department and the NRA are closely examining that, and it is hoped to bring forward specific proposals at an early date.

The spatial dimensions to road planning must also be considered. In this context, it will be very important that the road investment programmes give due weight to the need for a reduction in regional inequality and for balanced regional development while, at the same time, respecting national level priorities. I will be working to ensure this.

A further spatial issue concerns transport links on the island. It is essential there is good co-operation between North and South in the development of transport links on the island. Without that, we will fall well short of the potential for increased North-South trade, investment and economic growth which is there for the taking. In that context, it was encouraging to see recently a number of concrete results emerging from North-South co-operation, particularly in transport matters, including the reconstruction of Aghalane Bridge on the N3-A509 and the realignment of the related approach roads. The bridge and roads will be officially opened soon, and North-South strategic transport issues will be an important element of the new plan. They will also be a major responsibility of the North-South Ministerial Council under the Good Friday Agreement.

I am pleased to be able to respond positively to the motion before the House. This will be a record year for national and non-national road investment. It is my firm intention to build on this in the period ahead until there is a road infrastructure, national and non-national, which fully meets economic and social needs. I welcome the support of all Members in that task. There is a great deal of work to be done, but I am confident the finances and funding can be secured in the years ahead to do it.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the debate. It is over a year since I contributed to a discussion on this subject. I support the amendment. The Minister will naturally defend the position that a record amount of money is being invested in the road network, national and non-national, but it falls well short of what is needed. The problem is that economic growth has contributed to a huge increase in traffic flows which significantly outstrip efforts to increase the capacity of roads to deal with those increased flows, especially in commercial traffic.

The amount of money the Government is spending through the National Roads Authority and through the Department for non-national roads is impressive. However, the amount of revenue the Government raises from the motoring public, especially the commercial motoring public, such as people with trucks, etc., was never greater. The enormous amount of money raised through road tax and fuel levies, which I have never heard quantified, amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds. Only a relatively small fraction of the total amount of revenue raised from the driving public, private or commercial, is returned to them.

Regarding the major flagship projects, such as the Curlews bypass in my county which is almost complete, 85 per cent of funding comes from the EU. When this avenue of funding dries up – and there is every likelihood given what we heard today regarding the regionalisation debacle – what will be done to replace this funding? I am the first to admit that the major infrastructural need of roads was never addressed, and that what we are dealing with today is a long history of neglect. Countries which are much poorer than Ireland have a much better road infrastructure. There is no doubt that we have by far the worst road infrastructure of the 15 members of the European Union. When one travels to other countries whose national incomes are far lower than ours one finds that their road networks are far better because they were a far greater priority with Governments.

Senator Burke made the point that the amount of money we spend on national secondary roads is abysmal and the Minister acknowledged that. That must be a priority. Less than one quarter of the national secondary road network is up to acceptable standards, where visibility and the width of the carriageways are acceptable. I welcome the many statements the Minister made since he took office about road safety, but he has always emphasised that carnage on the roads is due to speeding, drink driving, etc. He has never alluded to the number of accidents caused by roads which do not have the capacity to deal with current traffic. Many fatal accidents have occurred at locations with poor visibility and narrow carriageway. We never hear of those statistics because there is not much to be gained politically from making those points. There have been hundreds of fatal accidents which were not related to speed, drink driving, carelessness or dangerous driving but which were related purely and simply to the incapacity of roads to take the traffic at a particular point.

The road network around the capital has been greatly improved over the past decade. All the radial roads out of the city have five or six kilometres of motorway or dual carriageway which are up to good international standards. On the western road, however, between the end of the motorway at Kilcock and the village of Enfield, and beyond, tens of thousands of vehicles travel daily in each direction and there is a bottleneck for five or six miles, which is unacceptable.

The National Roads Authority, in its recent report, envisaged a network which would allow a flow of traffic between one urban area and another to achieve an average speed of about 60 kilometres per hour. There is no way this will be achieved, given the level of additional traffic which is going onto the network and the relatively poor response in terms of the allocation of finance.

There is a clear connection between economic development and a good transport infrastructure. Everybody who manufactures goods and must get them to a point of sale or export needs, above all, a good fast road network. This country has one of the worst reputations for adding cost to industry because of poor transport infrastructure. That is best expressed by our slowness in getting a container of goods from the place of manufacture in the west, for example, to a port on the east coast. Despite all the improvements, the time it takes to travel 100 kilometres has probably not improved in the past ten years. While no doubt there have been improvements in the road network there has been a huge amount of additional traffic. In the past five years the traffic flow on some national roads has increased by 50 per cent, but the capacity of the roads has not increased in line with that. The result is that the traffic, especially heavy commercial traffic, has slowed down.

The amount of heavy commercial traffic on the roads is a problem. I often travel to this city twice a week and the time it takes is increasing because I am competing with more and more vehicles. That should not be happening. Improvements are made to increase the speed of traffic flow on the road network, but that is not being achieved.

The Minister should greatly increase the allocation to local authorities for local improvement schemes. These schemes can be used to great effect on many small, minor or tertiary roads within each county, especially in the western counties where the local authorities do not have sufficient funds. My county has been operating with a budget of about £100,000 for the past five years and it is totally inadequate. I take it that every other local authority has had a similar experience.

An enormous amount of excellent work has been done on the county and regional road network within every local authority area, but there is one category, that is small public culs de sac or tertiary roads, towards which a grossly inadequate amount of money has been directed under this new ten year programme. That allocation needs to be increased. People may say that there are only one or two houses or farms on these roads and there must some direct economic return from an investment, but many of these are important roads. The Department must instruct local authorities to allocate a greater amount of their available resources to that area.

I hope note is taken of these points. I am a local authority member and, like everybody else here, I highlight the particular problems I see. Even with additional funding, local authorities, as Senators will agree, still experience problems with road improvements.

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, to the House. I compliment the Minister for the Environment and Local Government for the work he has done since he took up that position less than two years ago. While in Opposition he did a great deal of moaning and groaning about what he would do when he got into power, and I must compliment him on what he has done since. The road network was in a deplorable state and he put the money where his mouth was. He reformed the financial structure of every local authority. He gave back power and autonomy to the local authorities. By way of legislation he created a guarantee refund scheme under which motor tax is used to improve the road network. I compliment him on that.

For years the biggest single problem for members of local authorities was the deplorable state of national primary and secondary routes and county roads. Many roads throughout the country are continually in a bad condition. This year the Minister is allocating £337 million, an enormous amount of money, to the National Roads Authority. I am sure tremendous work will be done by the end of the year.

One must consider the amount of money which has been spent over recent years by the NRA. I was quite critical of the National Roads Authority when it was first established because I felt it would take power from local authorities, the most appropriate bodies to do this work. I was wrong. The NRA has done tremendous work and its programme from now until the year 2019 is a very ambitious one. Approximately £6 billion is to be spent between now and then on our national and secondary national road networks. I welcome that. I am critical of some of the NRA programme and I will speak about my criticisms shortly.

The Minister proposes to give an increase of 17 per cent to the National Roads Authority. An increase of 19 per cent has been given by the Minister to local authorities for county roads, main roads through counties and for the cul-de-sac roads which have been mentioned. The Government may be obliged to seek private investment in future road development. Huge amounts of money will be needed for tunnels, bypasses, bridges and so on, and the private sector should be brought into some form of partnership to finance these projects.

I am extremely critical of the proposed western corridor. This road will come in an L shape from the north, down the west as far as Limerick and across to Waterford. It will exclude counties Cork, Limerick and Kerry. It is clear that future development will take place along this corridor which is unfair to people in the three counties I have mentioned. We are told that funding will be available to add sprigs to this network which will give these counties access to this major route but I cannot foresee this happening. This plan should go back to the drawing-board.

I was glad to hear the Minister of State admit that national secondary routes are seriously under-funded. Senator Burke claims there are more miles of secondary road in his county than in any other. I must correct him. The largest number of miles of national secondary roads in any county is in my own county of Kerry; approximately 17 per cent of all national secondary roads are in County Kerry.

And there are no potholes.

I am very disappointed to read that the NRA considers that no funding will be needed for the road from Tarbert, through Listowel to Tralee until 2019. Whoever came to inspect the road must have been daydreaming if he did not see that the structure of the route is in a deplorable state and the road is falling apart. If it is not to be improved until 2019 we will be obliged to use the River Shannon as a thoroughfare. The road is being used by traffic going to the Tarbert ferry, to the port at Foynes and to Limerick. I hope the NRA will reconsider their plans for this road.

Extremely good work has been done elsewhere in Kerry, particularly on the Killarney side of the national primary route. The roads from Cork to Dublin, Limerick to Dublin, Galway to Dublin and Sligo to Dublin have been improved by the NRA and improvements are continuing. Of course, much more needs to be done. Wonderful development is taking place on the Dublin to Belfast and the Dublin to Rosslare routes. Government funding to the National Roads Authority and to local authorities is very welcome. I compliment the Minister on making these funds available to bring roads up to an acceptable standard. I am sure that by 2005, the condition of county roads will be of the standard which road users deserve. I compliment the Minister and the Minister of State on their work.

I welcome the Minister of State to the House to discuss this very important motion. I agree with my colleagues on this side of the House that the roads, and particularly county roads, are in a deplorable state. We may quote figures to show increased road development but the real situation is very different. I recently attended a public meeting in Anacarty, a few miles from Cashel, and I never saw such anger expressed by people in rural Ireland. The local authority in that area does not have enough money for road maintenance. There are days when council road workers do not have tar or chips with which to fill potholes. One would think some areas were in a Third World country. Some potholes have not been attended to for months despite being reported to county councils before last Christmas. We are told by the county engineer that the road maintenance fund is exhausted. The Minister of State should ask every county engineer how much money he has for road maintenance. I am sure he will be shocked by the answers.

We rightly speak about our booming economy and budget surplus but people in rural areas are forced to drive on inadequate roads. Whether they are going to Mass or driving their children to school, they feel very aggrieved. It is becoming more and more difficult for public representatives to attend public functions because we must listen to people's continual complaints about the condition of their local roads. Many of these roads have not been attended to for many years. In the 1960s and 1970s local authorities took over roads and maintained them. Since then we have been merely scratching the surface of a real roads restoration programme. No matter what the figures show, the county road structure is being dismally neglected.

In fairness to the authorities, the Minister and the Department of the Environment and Local Government, we have successfully used the money allocated for major roads and bypasses. However, we are not spending enough money on our county roads. If we do not make a very serious effort, rural Ireland will be left behind. Agriculture is going through a very critical stage of change at the moment and if we are to bring tourists into rural areas we will have to improve the road structure. I call on the Minister to do something more positive for county roads.

I also ask the Minister to encourage a far more comprehensive community scheme. Some years ago, the IFA and the Department developed the idea of the community roads scheme for Cavan. Those community schemes were successful but there were not enough of them. Most counties will have area roads meetings next month to draw up their programme for the coming year. Some roads will have to be left out because there is not enough money in the community scheme.

The local improvement scheme is fantastic and should be used more. The Minister should ensure that more money is allocated for that scheme. Money spent on rural roads, particularly the county roads, is money well spent. It is an investment which will pay dividends for the agricultural, tourism and related industries.

People in those areas cannot understand why, when there is a budget surplus and a great deal of money floating around, there is no money for their roads. I urge the Minister to do something about this.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Jacob. I also congratulate the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, on the recent announcement of increased investment in 1999 on both national and non-national roads. As other speakers have said, the funding for national roads has increased in 1999 to £337 million, an increase of 17 per cent. I am particularly interested in the increase in funding for non-national roads because there are not many national road routes in my county. The increase in funding from £200 million in 1998 to £237 million, an increase of 19 per cent, is very welcome. We particularly welcome the allocation of £13.8 million to our county, an increase of 13 per cent which is just below the national average.

A proper road network is vital for any country, particularly Ireland where 90 per cent of goods are carried on the national primary and secondary routes. A good road network can have a huge impact on costs in the economy generally, particularly in attracting industry to places such as the west, from where I come.

We have a non-existent rail network, particularly in the northern part of the country. When I attended a secondary school in the Minister's constituency, I could get a train from Strabane to Gormanstown in County Meath. It is impossible to do that now because there is no railway service now; doing away with this line was a huge mistake. If we could afford to do so, one alternative now would be to return to using the rail network.

I referred to industry in the west. Senator Fitzgerald mentioned the importance of the fishing industry to the west and the poor road network to the six fishing centres in Dingle, Howth, Dunmore East, Castletownbere, Rossaveel and Killybegs. However, while the fishing industry is very important, particularly to my county of Donegal, the Minister has been making great inroads into developing a proper road structure into Killybegs. He has provided over £5 million this year to continue, and probably finish, the Donegal town bypass and £2.5 million to carry out major roadworks on the national route from Donegal town to Ballybofey. That will give a great boost to the industry in Killybegs because that is the road by which most of the fish leaving Killybegs travels to the Continent, through Northern Ireland and on to Larne. Last year almost £0.5 million was spent on the approach road to Killybegs. I can only speak for Killybegs and make the point that there has been huge investment there. I hope that with further investment in the M56 from Donegal town through Mountcharles, that road will be totally upgraded to assist the industry.

Many speakers mentioned the National Roads Authority. It has done a great deal of good work since it came into existence. However, in the needs study produced in the summer a great deal of work which should be completed is listed under "backlog". Given that we have such a backlog, the programme for 2000-6 will obviously have to go further.

I have a major complaint about the National Roads Authority; it has focused greatly on certain areas, particularly the east coast and as a result, the west has been badly neglected, particularly Donegal. A possible reason for that is that we have only three short stretches of national primary routes and one major national secondary route. Some of the improvements on the M56 were, under the National Roads Authority programme, due to be done in the years 2000-6 but much of it will be done in the time frame up to 2019. This is totally unsatisfactory.

Many of the problems with our roads have been due to very poor planning. As some speakers have already said, work that was done years ago is now proving to be totally inadequate as a result of bad planning. For example, there are huge traffic backlogs every evening on the N1 road to the airport, even on what are called dual carriageways. I appreciate that many of the problems are due to the increased levels of traffic. Although the Minister for Finance increased VRT this year, there has been a huge increase in car sales. It takes me approximately one and a half hours longer to travel from Dublin to Donegal than it did five or six years ago, even with huge improvements to the N2 all the way to Monaghan.

A great deal of work is needed on roads such as the N2. There are huge traffic backlogs every day at Ashbourne, Ardee, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney. All those towns need bypasses but, unfortunately, there does not appear to be any sign in the National Roads Authority programme of any work being carried out on them. There has been a huge improvement in traffic movement as far as Drogheda on the M1 with the opening of the Balbriggan bypass. Unfortunately, the traffic jams are now occurring between Drogheda and Dundalk.

On non-national roads which are very important in a county such as Donegal, I welcome the funding granted by the Minister for the two artery roads leading to the west, namely, the R251 and R255 which lead into Gweedore. There is a huge industrial estate in Gweedore but the access roads are very poor as they are into Dunloe from Ballybofey. Approximately £800,000 was allocated for each of the artery roads this year and I look forward to increased funding in future years.

I wish to refer to the importance of the local improvement scheme funding due to be announced next year. I was canvassing in recent weeks for a council nomination and I travelled on many roads. My car really took a battering. Approximately £8 million is required to clear the backlog for local improvement scheme funding in Donegal. While I acknowledge we receive one of the largest allocations in the country at almost £400,000, it would take almost 20 years to improve the roads at that rate. I welcome the increases in funding for the scheme but more is required.

I welcome the upgrading and rebuilding of Aghalane Bridge, especially in view of the importance of the cross-Border bodies and the need for co-operation between North and South. The A5 from Strabane to Aughnacloy links up with the N2 but there are no plans in the North to have it upgraded. When I was a young man, that was one of the best roads in the country but when it came to upgrading, it was left behind. I hope the Minister seeks to have it upgraded in any cross-Border co-operation on this issue.

Senator Bonner said he had some difficulty with the NRA in so far as he believes it is spending all its money in the eastern region. I also have difficulty with the NRA and I live within 100 yards of its headquarters. If the NRA could do something about the roads in front of their own headquarters in St. Martin's House on the corner of Waterloo Road and Upper Baggot Street, I and many other citizens of Dublin 4 – that notorious area – would be extremely grateful. Perhaps the Minister does not have full responsibility for this but since long before Christmas, excavations have been ongoing at this very important junction. Water is pouring out of the ground. I use it as an opportunity to practice my Italian. Sometimes it is fiume and other times it is torrente. Water is constantly seeping up out of the road. Half of the road has been dug up and people must go around bollards to get over this apparently insurmountable civil engineering problem.

The excavations have been ongoing for approximately three months. I passed by the area today and water is still pouring out of the ground; it pours out so fast that it creates culverts in the tarmacadam. I think it is peculiar that this is occurring in front of the NRA's headquarters; something must be done about it.

I find it fascinating that the denizens of Dublin 4 have been warned to turn off their water supply or the corporation will do it for them. We are being told to cut down on the amount of water we are using because improvement works are under way. I accept that; local people in the area would be willing to co-operate with the corporation if the condition of the road in front of St. Martin's House was improved.

Something must also be done about the condition of the footpaths. People are being told to take the non-existent public transport into the city. Fortunately, I am in a position to walk into town and I can get the No. 10 bus home. I have spoken to the Minister for Public Enterprise, Deputy O'Rourke, who lives very near me, about the condition of the footpaths in the area. The NRA, when encouraging people to take to the roads, should advise those in charge of the footpaths to do something about them. The EU is encouraging us to take exercise but it is hardly a good idea to take exercise which risks breaking one's neck. The footpath between Burlington Road and Leinster House is full of death traps. There is a Cheshire Home in the area in which disabled people live and a considerable number of blind people travel to work in the city. It is all right for me to be skipping and hopping over the broken pieces of pavement but it is very serious for people with disabilities.

If the Minister travelled from St. Martin's House as far as the traffic lights in Baggot Street, he would see the obstacles which confront people. As a doctor, I would not advise anyone to cycle from St. Martin's House to Kildare Street because the state of the road is so appalling they would merely endanger their health and that of others. I am merely referring to the inbound stretch of road as the outbound section is entirely dug up. Some of my colleagues might have the energy tomorrow morning to walk from St. Martin's House to the Seanad – a brisk 20 minute walk – but I warn them that their health and safety will be at risk every inch of the way.

I concur with some of the comments made by Senator Henry but if she thinks the roads are bad in Dublin, she should come to Cavan and Monaghan. I compliment the Minister on this year's allocation of funding for non-national roads. We are particularly grateful for the allocation of £7 million, which is twice the amount received in 1994. However, in spite of the increased allocations received in Cavan and Monaghan each year, serious problems still exist in regard to our county roads.

Cavan and Monaghan are very dependent on agricultural industries – poultry production, mushroom production and dairying. A total of 17 intensive farmers live on the same road as me which is only two miles long. There is a huge volume of traffic on the road since many of the farmers are engaged in turkey rearing and mushroom production. Heavy vehicles carrying mushrooms, mushroom compost, litter for turkey houses, turkeys, meal and so on, travel the road daily; and that is not to mention the dump and milk lorries.

I am sure some Senators consider I am constantly on the bandwagon in regard to intensive farming and the problems it causes. Both Cavan and Monaghan are exceptional in this case; no other counties must endure the same volume of traffic such industry causes. The Minister is aware of the problems resulting from the heavy volume of traffic as he has met with us on a number of occasions when we were discussing this problem.

I also wish to refer to the bypasses which are needed. I concur with what Senator Bonner said about congestion on the N2. It is the only national road, going from Dublin to Donegal, which does not have a bypass. I am talking about inward investment. The current buzz word is "rural development". There is no way we can continue development in rural areas if we do not have the infrastructure. For this reason, there is no way investment will come to the three main towns in Monaghan, namely, Carrickmacross, Castleblaney and Monaghan. As I said on many occasions since they will not attract the computer or teleservicing industries, we are dependent on indigenous and other industries which will usually entail heavy transport. There is no way we can attract such industries to the counties without the proper infrastructure.

Currently compulsory purchase orders are in place in Carrickmacross, while we have designs for Castleblaney and hopefully the selection of a route for Monaghan. I know the Minister has no direct power over the National Roads Authority, but perhaps indirectly a special emphasis could be placed on the N2 so that we can be successful in terms of infrastructure in comparison with the rest of the country.

Particularly welcome is the fact that money raised through motor tax will be returned to county councils to be spent on roads. Everybody who pays motor tax feels aggrieved because they do not know where it is being spent. It is very important that people know the money is being invested in their own county.

The local improvement scheme has been extremely successful in Counties Cavan and Monaghan. The only problem is that it is so popular there is now a seven or eight year waiting list. Those who have to invest their own money, be it in their business or in roads, will pay particular attention to maintaining it following the completion of work. We have been successful in that we have doubled our allocation to the LIS in the past five years. The scheme has been invaluable to counties such as Cavan and Monaghan in terms of many of the very small roads which would be very far down the list otherwise. Special emphasis should be placed on increasing the allocation to the LIS so that people could take a little pride in their own road.

We all wish for perfect roads, and I listened to my Opposition colleagues say that enough is not allocated to county roads, but if 90 per cent of roads were completed this year, the people living on the other 10 per cent would not be happy. It is not possible to keep all the people happy all the time.

The Senator does like to try.

I have given up trying.

We have had a very good debate on a very important issue which will remain topical for many years to come. Senator Coogan mentioned that footpaths need improving. Senator Burke also raised this issue and the need to ensure that when constructing roads, footpaths are included as part of the programme. I fully concur with this. In our area a relief road was built and we subsequently continued a footpath right around the area which has proved a tremendous local amenity. Last week I opened it as Slí na Sláinte, part of the programme of the Irish Heart Foundation to encourage people to undertake walking for exercise. This is of tremendous benefit, apart altogether from Senator Henry's comments about having a footpath available for people walking from points A to B.

Senator Connor mentioned that we have the worst road infrastructure of the 15 EU member states. I am not sure I concur fully with that, but the comparison is fair if we talk about northern European countries; the comparison would be incorrect in the context of some of the southern European countries. However, things are not as we would like them. The Senator referred to accident blackspots. It might be useful for local auth orities to undertake a review of such areas; I know the Department is particularly forthcoming in assisting local authorities in eradicating such areas. In that regard the Senator referred to road conditions being a very significant factor in accidents and fatalities. In fact, this is not borne out by international statistics. It is fair to say that speeding, which we discussed in the House on a previous occasion, together with drink driving and the failure to use seat belts are the most significant factors in road accidents, particularly in road fatalities. Internationally, road conditions only account – perhaps "only" is not the correct word – for 7 per cent of road fatalities. Therefore, it is an important issue but is very much down the scale in terms of road safety.

The Minister referred to the criticism of the lack of planning and made the point that with hindsight people can be critical. The records of the Department of the Environment and Local Government may show that in 1983 I led a delegation of the Irish Road Hauliers Association which met the then Minister, Deputy Quinn, and we complained fairly strongly about the failure to have investment in road infrastructure and improvement. One of the proposals we put forward on that occasion was that a concerted effort be made to have a motorway system in the country, particularly between the major centres of population. This was in the aftermath of the Naas bypass, which at that time amounted to a couple of kilometres of motorway. We made the point that modern industrial and commercial considerations would require motorways between the major population centres. We pointed out to the Minister a mechanism whereby this could be done and suggested that on an annual basis he construct five miles or five kilometres of motorway – I do not remember which – costing £30 million. We suggested this could be funded through £10 million from the Exchequer, £10 million which would be transferred from the social fund – used at that time for social employment schemes – and £10 million from the EU. We followed up that meeting with a seminar which was held in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire at which we had a speaker from the European Commission who said that part of the Commission's difficulty was in prompting the Department to submit schemes which would attract funding. He said that while we were get ting one-third funding for such schemes from the EU, a properly constructed case made with the necessary back-up and support data could attract much higher funding. He pointed out that in parts of northern Italy up to 70 per cent funding was being provided by the EU.

In conclusion, the motion welcomes the funding increase from £254 million to £336 million, an additional £82 million or 32 per cent from 1997 to 1999. Likewise, spending on non-national roads has gone up by 36 per cent, which is significant.

I suggest that Senator Coogan, whom I respect as a man deeply committed to local government and the improvement of the activities and infrastructure provided by it, might consider an amendment to the motion. I know there is always a temptation to divide on these issues and make a political point, and that is why in my earlier comments I suggested that successive Governments along with the Department failed in terms of proper forward planning to provide us with the infrastructure we now need. I suggest that we make a small amendment to the motion which would read:

That Seanad Éireann welcomes the increased allocations for road investment in 1999 [which a fair point to make and one which is subscribed to] calls for further acceleration of the road development programmes; and requests the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to continue to increase the allocation in view of the increased demands on the road network and to make a statement on the matter.

That includes everything except the condemnation which would be political. If the House agreed to that, we would support the Minister in securing funding.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is the amendment agreed to?

Will Senator Coogan accept my suggestion?

If the Minister had given us a three or five year plan, I might have accepted it but unfortunately he did not.

He had a 20 year plan.

Amendment put.

Burke, Paddy.Caffrey, Ernie.Coghlan, Paul.Connor, John.Coogan, Fintan.Cosgrave, Liam T.Doyle, Avril.

Hayes, Tom.Henry, Mary.Manning, Maurice.O'Toole, Joe.Ridge, Thérèse.Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.


Bohan, Eddie.Bonner, Enda.Callanan, Peter.Chambers, Frank.Cox, Margaret.Cregan, John.Dardis, John.Farrell, Willie.Fitzgerald, Liam.Fitzgerald, Tom.Gibbons, Jim.

Glynn, Camillus.Keogh, Helen.Kiely, Daniel.Lanigan, Mick.Leonard, Ann.Lydon, Don.Mooney, Paschal.Moylan, Pat.Ormonde, Ann.Walsh, Jim.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Burke and Ridge; Níl, Senators T.Fitzgerald and Keogh.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion put and declared carried.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Tomorrow at 12.30 p.m.