A THREATENED blockade by subcontractors working of the main Dingle/Tralee Road were called off just hours before the arrival of a flood of visitors to West Kerry for the Dingle Food Festival at the weekend.
Subcontractors on the road who are involved in a dispute over payments had threatened to mount the blockade to highlight
the issue. However, the protest was called off at the last minute following a meeting on Thursday night, just in advance of the opening on Friday of the hugely successful Dingle Peninsula Food and Wine Festival.
The Kerryman understands the dispute centres on payment to subcontractors working on a major upgrade of the N86 route between Tralee and Dingle via Annascaul.
Had the blockade been mounted traffic, would have been forced to use the Conor Pass on which heavy vehicles are restricted from travelling.
The Kerryman spoke on Monday to one of the sub-contractors who claimed that up to seven fellow sub-contractors were also involved in the dispute over payments.
Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin raised the issue in the Dáil last Thursday, issuing a call to the National Roads Authority (NRA) and Kerry County Council (KCC) to intervene. "I have been advised by the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar TD, that the construction, improvement and maintenance of our national roads is a matter for the NRA; I also believe that Kerry County Council should also play a role in mediating this dispute," Deputy Griffin said.
However Seán O'Neill of the NRA told The Kerryman that the National Roads Authority has no legal standing to intervene.
The contract for the N86 road works was awarded to a Roscommon-based firm, who told The Kerryman the work had been subsequently sub-contracted to a northern Ireland firm.
Local sub-contractors are to meet this week to decide on their next move. County Councillor Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald, who has been in contact with subcontractors over the past number of weeks described the situation as "very difficult."