CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - WESTMEATH ROAD GRANTS.

SEAN O LAIDHIN

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state on what basis the grant of £36,470 under the Trunk Road Scheme has been allocated in Westmeath County; if he is aware that there are 58 miles and 11 perches of trunk roads in the entire County, of which 10 miles 4 furlongs and 10 perches are under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Surveyor for South Westmeath; if he will state why £34,820 is allocated for 47 miles 4 furlongs and 1 perch, as against £1,650 for 10 miles 4 furlongs 10 perches; and if he will see that the amount is allocated according to the proportion of mileage in each part of the County as follows:—For the 47 miles 4 furlongs and 1 perch, £29,852; and for the 10 miles 4 furlongs and 10 perches, £6,618.

The allocation, was made on the basis of the amount required to complete the improvement of trunk roads in the County included in the National Scheme after careful inspection by the engineers of my Department and consultation with the Acting County Surveyor. The Deputy's reference to the trunk road mileage refers no doubt to the trunk road mileage in the National Road Scheme. The £1,650 allocated for the ten miles was for the surface dressing of a road already steamrolled as a result of work carried out under previous grants. A greater proportion of the National roads in the rest of the County required improvement so that the proportionately greater allocation was made for those roads. The Deputy will no doubt appreciate that allocations cannot be made on the basis of mileage alone.

Is the Minister aware that out of the grant of £20,000 made last year, only £2,000 was allocated to South Westmeath, and the mileage of 10 miles, as specified in the question, has not been steam-rolled from that grant, but out of the estimates of the county council? Does the Minister think it right that in the allocation of grants a monopoly should be given to one part of the county, and that the other part is not equally entitled to a portion of the grant? Further, can the Minister tell me on whose authority the grants were allocated?

On the advice of my inspectors and the local county surveyors it was decided that this grant of £1,650 would bring this particular mileage up to the same standard as that of other portions of the road on which a considerably greater amount of money is being expended. That being the case, I do not see how the Deputy can justify a larger expenditure on that road.

Does the Minister think it fair that out of the Government grant of £53,000, £51,000 should be spent on one portion of the county, and only £1,600 on ten miles of trunk road in another portion of the county? Surely there is something wrong. There are at least ten roads in South Westmeath required to be steam-rolled, even with tar macadam. I ask the Minister to re-consider the matter, so that allocation will be made in accordance with the mileage of trunk roads.