Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Blizzard Expenses.

12.

asked the Minister for the Environment when he proposes to recoup the expenses incurred by local authorities in dealing with the recent blizzard; and the amount he proposes to allocate to each authority.

I have asked local authorities by letter of 22 January to furnish estimates of abnormal expenditure under appropriate headings, incurred by them consequent on the blizzard conditions, and I am awaiting this information.

Has the Minister given local authorities a definite assurance that he will allocate funds for the work done following the blizzard?

A circular issued last week pointing out the headings under which they may claim recoupment.

Will this be an allocation separate from the normal road fund allocation?

Yes, there will be a separate allocation.

Will the money be available to cover all the extra expense incurred, including the hire of machinery, personnel employed by the county council, and any other matter arising from the weather conditions?

It will include the hireage of machinery from the private sector, any necessary remuneration of persons other than full-time local authority employees engaged in the operating of hired machinery, where such costs are not part of the hireage arrangements necessary, overtime, where applicable, of road and other workers, full-time or temporary, materials used over and above normal stocks, grit, sand, salt, sandbags used for flood prevention, use of local authority machinery, excluding drivers' normal wages and miscellaneous abnormal expenses, including repairs of installations and immediate road repairs to be detailed in claims submitted for the Minister's approval.

Is the Minister aware of the vast amount of misrepresentations in many publications that was circulating, particularly when we had the snow and frost? Is he taking any steps to have this misrepresentation corrected before further wild statements are made? Is he aware that during the week of the snow Dublin County Council, which was referred to a few minutes ago——

——By people not from Dublin County Council.

——by people who know nothing about how the corporation operate——

A brief question, Deputy.

Is the Minister aware that Dublin County Council ordered machinery on the first day of the snow from a firm one of whose directors——

That does not arise on this question.

It does. They were requested to have the roads cleared in 24 hours but despite——

They did not do the job.

Dublin County Council had to provide three JCBs and bring drivers from their homes to the machines so that they could clear the roads. That is a different story to that which appeared in many publications.

The Deputy may not make a speech.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Molloy.

May I——

I have allowed the Deputy three or four supplementaries.

I am aware that what Deputy McMahon said is true and there are many other points he did not cover, but they will all come out next week when Deputy Connolly eventually puts down his question on this matter.

Deputy Molloy.

There is egg on the Minister's face.

Deputy Connolly slipped up badly.

The Minister did not act.

Will the Minister give the House the terms of the instruction which he says issued last Saturday to the local authorities——

That arose under the previous question. This question deals with the recoupment of expenses.

Let me finish my question.

If I let you finish it will be too late. You may ask a supplementary question on the recoupment of expenses.

Would the Minister confirm that the instruction contained information whether the Department would recoup the cost of these works?

Will the Minister give the terms to the House?

They were not written; it was an oral instruction.

What was the oral instruction?

The circular issued from my Department last October listed the things local authorities——

No, Saturday, 9 January.

A circular went from my Department in October telling county councils what they could do to prepare against the eventuality of blizzards and what arrangements they should make. Most of the work had been done on Friday and we were checking on Saturday to make sure they were told to get on with the work. Deputy Godfrey Timmins phoned me at lunchtime on the Saturday to say there was some doubt in so far as his local authority was concerned and I told him directly over the phone what the position was.

Would the Minister agree that some local authorities were in doubt about whether additional expenditure incurred by them for this purpose would be recouped through the Department?

There should not have been any doubt, but I would point out that it is the responsibility of local authorities to keep roads clear. There is something remiss in the case of any local authority who would argue about sums of money when the roads were in the condition in which they were on that weekend.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

(Interruptions.)

I am calling Question No. 13.

I wish to ask a final supplementary.

I have called the next question.