Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has been criticised over the proportion of funding for local road works provided by her department to her constituency.
Cavan and Monaghan received nearly a fifth of funding allocated under a round of the department’s local improvement scheme announced earlier this summer.
Monaghan received €1,056,223 under the second round of the scheme this year, while Cavan was allocated €830,135.
Combined, the two counties received nearly €1.9 million, about 18 per cent of the total €10.5 million in funding. In comparison, Cork was allocated €492,738, and Kerry some €497,169. Limerick received the most funds and was allocated €1.1 million in this round of the scheme.
Ms Humphreys, a TD in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency, said the allocations were “based solely on the level of works local authorities themselves said they could deliver by the end of the year”.
In total €21 million was provided in funding to local authorities for roads and laneways, in two rounds of €10.5 million each.
The second round of funding for road improvements, announced in July, was made available due to savings elsewhere, primarily as other capital projects faced delays due to Covid-19.
“As the second tranche of funding has been made available from savings, it is a requirement that this funding must be spent by year-end,” Ms Humphreys said.
“Officials in the department engaged directly with local authorities and asked them to provide details on how many lanes they could complete by year-end and what the costs would be,” she said.
“If any councillor has an issue with the funding their county received, they should raise the matter with their own local authority,” she added.
The total amount of funding for the roads scheme was the highest allocation since it was reintroduced in 2017, with “every county receiving significantly higher funding compared to previous years” she said.
Claire Kerrane TD, Sinn Féin spokeswoman for rural development, had criticised the proportion of funding provided to Cavan and Monaghan, under the recent second round of the scheme.
“The Government has an obligation to be open and transparent about public money. The Minister must come forward and explain why these allocations were made and what criteria the decisions were based on,” she said.
Funding allocations must be “fair and evidence-based” for people to have confidence in the process, she added.
Under the first round of the roads scheme earlier in the year, Cavan received €289,254 in funds and Monaghan was allocated €270,000.
Cork received €920,000, Galway €876,959, Mayo €798,496, and Donegal €697,456.
As part of the scheme, local authorities identify non-public roads for works, to improve access to rural homes, farms and other locations such as mountains, rivers, lakes or beaches.