‘Road Service must prioritise people in rural communities’ – Ritchie
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has urged the Minister for Regional Development and Road Service to prioritise inaccessible rural communities who have been hit hard by the poor weather.
Ritchie, who has been in touch with Minister Danny Kennedy for an urgent update last night, said, “It is imperative that Road Service act in a speedy way to help those living in rural areas which have been made inaccessible due to the adverse weather conditions.
“Many of my constituents in Leitrim, Ballyward, Dromara, Kilcoo, Rostrevor area are totally housebound because of the snowdrifts. These people are rightly distressed that they may miss hospital appointments, and be prevented from going about their daily business such as food shopping, going to church or visiting relatives.
“This is an unacceptable state of affairs. The farming community will also be anxious that they cannot access their animals to feed them, particularly during lambing season. The snow is so thick that farming equipment is failing to clear the roads. Animals will be distressed and farmers will no doubt feel deeply worried.
“This is an extremely serious situation and the Minister must take immediate action. Those living in isolated and difficult to reach areas cannot be forgotten about. Just because the main roads and arterial routes are clear does not mean that rural communities can be left to dig themselves out of the appalling weather conditions.
Ritchie added, “I welcome the fact the Minister has responded to me and informed me that gritting and ploughing has taken place in the Kilcoo area including the A27 Castlewellan to Newry Road and the B8 Kilcoo to Hilltown Road. The A50, Castlewellan to Banbridge road, has also been treated which includes the Ballyward area.
“It is essential that Road Service continue to assist those in remote areas and make every effort to assist those whose everyday routines have been so severely disrupted.”
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