Saturday 19 January 2019

€10m in M50 tolls 'written off' in last two years according to Dáil finance watchdog

M50 (Stock photo)
M50 (Stock photo)
John Downing

John Downing

Unpaid road tolls worth €10m on Dublin’s M50 ring-road have been written off over the last two years, a new report has revealed.

Fianna Fáil Meath-West TD, Shane Cassells, said in a recent case a milkman had been apprehended after he drove the route over 300 times – but only paid twice.

The same report for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) again finds “no policing case” for the controversial Government decision to re-open Stepaside Garda Station in south Dublin.

The committee chairman, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, said it was a matter of concern also that value for money and best use of garda resources had not been taken into account in the controversial decision. But he said he could not politicise the case as chairman of the PAC.

Several committee members, however, castigated Transport Minister Shane Ross, a local TD for the area, in relation to the Stepaside decision. They noted that Mr Ross was previously an active member of the PAC and in that capacity, just a few years ago, would himself have condemned the move as “parish pump politics.”

Committee vice-chairman, Alan Kelly of Labour, said the decision had courageously been criticised to their committee by Assistant Garda Commissioner, Pat Leahy. 

He also said the head of garda human resources, John Barrett, had not been consulted on the decision.

Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane said Minister Ross would have been “railing” against the move in his past role as an outspoken PAC member.

Deputy Fleming said the average €5m per year loss in M50 road tolls was just too high.

In 2016 €5.2m was deemed uncollectable and in 2017 that figure was €4.9m.

Mr Fleming said Transport Infrastructure Ireland had said every effort was made to reduce the level of unpaid tolls. But a certain amount of bad debts was inevitable.

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