Eddie Cunningham: 'Potholes are so bad on Irish roads that people even say they'd grudgingly pay more tax to get rid of them'

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Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The man was on his knees as far as I could see.

It looked to me like he was taking a picture of something on the road, but there did not appear to have been an accident. There were no cars stopped with their hazard lights on. Then thud.

My inside front wheel clattered into something.

A hidden, deep, vicious pothole. I stopped; no damage. But I noticed the man running back towards me. He hadn't been as lucky earlier. He produced a picture of the damage to one of his wheels.

Ouch! It looked really bad. He said the car felt all wobbly when he tried to drive it. This was in a posh part of Dublin. They don't take kindly to their Beemers, Mercs and Range Rovers being whacked by potholes.

Trust me, it's a lot worse in other parts of the country. A lot worse. The bad weather seems to have battered some roads to the point of crumble.

My colleague, Paul Melia, reported recently on how badly roads need to be repaired.

I see only one way that will happen: an increase in taxation.

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I didn't linger long with the man taking pictures, but it struck me how costly it can be not to have good roads.

I'd say that replacing his battered alloy will set him back a few hundred euro at least.

And God knows what damage is being done to suspensions, tyres and wheels all over the country.

Of course something needs to be done. The question is, are we prepared to pay for it?

I've had a stream of complaints from people saying their local roads have deteriorated dramatically over the past year.

And they see no reason, considering all the taxes they are already paying, that they should have to stump up more of their hard-earned money.

A minority, nonetheless, said things have become so bad that they would grudgingly pay a little more in tax to rid their roads of the hidden gouges.

I've a feeling this is going to become a real issue in rural areas, particularly where traffic volumes might be relatively low but people still need and deserve a decent surface to get around.

The fact of the matter is that roads need constant maintenance and many of ours have been left to their fate for a long time now. We do need to get our heads together on this.

There are two major issues: safety and vehicle condition. Safety - people swerving to avoid a pothole hit, for example. Vehicle condition - tyres, rims, wheels and suspensions are all being whacked. They are safety issues too, of course.

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