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Councillor accuses colleagues of exploiting LIS scheme

A Glenties area councillor has accused councillors of exploiting a government road scheme to “look after their own families first”.

Councillor Michael Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig made the allegation when criticising the amount of funding allocated to Donegal under the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS).

The scheme, designed to enhance non-public roads leading to homes and farms in rural Ireland, was only resurrected in 2017 after years on the shelf.

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Under the latest tranche of money released by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, Donegal received almost €700,000.

Councillors say however it is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of applications that have been lodged by members of the public.

It is understood that €22 million in funding will be needed to clear the backlog in Donegal alone. Under the current of rate of allocation, it will take around 30 years before all the applications are dealt with.

At a recent meeting in Lifford, councillors called for the application process to be postponed to allow officials to concentrate on the workload already in front of them.

Councillor Michael Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig says that due to insufficient funding, many of Donegal’s rural roads have deteriorated to what he describes as a “totally unacceptable level”.

He has also accused some fellow councillors of using the scheme to look after their own family members.

Councillor Mac Giolla Easpaig said, “It was decided in the Glenties Municipal District that priority would be given to roads that were in a bad state of repair or if someone living on the road was ill.

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“However, it has come to the public’s attention that Councillor Seamus O’Domhnaill, chairman of Donegal County Council, has had thousands of euros spent upgrading his own road, even though I am told that this newly built road was not in a state of disrepair to a point that you could no longer drive on it, like many other roads for which funding has been sought.

“It has also been reported that other councillors around the county, as well as councillors from the Glenties Municipal District, looked after their own family members first. It seems that you have more chance of having your road prioritised and getting work done on it if you are well acquainted or associated with a political party,” said the independent councillor.

Mr Giolla Easbuig said the LIS scheme was one of the major talking points on the doorsteps as the election looms.

The Donegal News asked both Seamus O Domhnaill and Donegal County Council for a response to the claims made.

Both declined to comment however Donegal County Council did provide documents from the Department of Rural and Community Development and Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport outlining criteria covering the current LIS scheme.

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