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Army of 500 workers mobilised to clear paths

A team of 500 workers with picks and shovels were deployed by Dublin City Council to clear treacherous footpaths of ice and snow as part of an emergency response to the icy weather.

The workers were taken from the council's parks and waste and drainage departments, to work full time on clearing the pavements.

Initially priority was given to the areas around hospitals, Dart and train stations and busy shopping areas in both the city centre and on the outskirts.

A spokesman for the council said since salt supplies were critically low the workers were using shovels and picks to "hack the ice off the pavements" to make them safe for pedestrians.

O'Connell and Grafton streets in the city centre were among the first areas to be cleared along with major hospitals and train stations.

A total of 200 workers from the council parks department were spread across the outskirts of the city and the remaining workers from the waste and drainage department were working closer to the city centre.

The spokesman said the teams, which began work yesterday, would continue to be deployed as long as necessary.

The teams had been formed as part of the council's response "under a major emergency plan ... to keep the city moving".

Their normal work in the parks, street cleaning and working on drainage, had slackened off because of the weather conditions so the workers would be able to keep clearing pathways he said.

The council was awaiting a new salt delivery today.

The spokesperson said the council normally used between 350 and 500 tonnes of salt from November to March. Last year this had increased to 850 tonnes but this year it had used 1,500 tonnes in 10 days. Currently about 100 tonnes of salt a day is being used around the Dublin area.