THE COUNTRY is bracing itself for traffic chaos as workplaces and schools reopen during the biggest freeze in living memory.
The Government was today urged to take urgent action to ensure the country can get back to work after a prolonged seasonal break.
Local authorities have come under fire for failing to clear even main roads during the arctic weather. Some of the busiest routes in the country remained covered in ice today amid reports that some councils were running out of materials for gritting roads.
Forecasters warned that the bitterly cold weather would stay at least until the middle of the week with frost and ice widespread. The effects of the widespread disruption to road users and public transport services continued to spill over into today, with delays experienced at Dublin Airport and on bus and rail routes.
Temperatures on many roads remained at zero or below, with motorists urged to exercise extreme caution and gardai advising against unnecessary travel. In Dublin, city buses were running, but some were operating on a restricted basis.
Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten said some elderly people and families have been marooned in their homes for 10 days and are facing into their third week without access to community nurses, homehelp and meals-on-wheels services.
"With forecasters now predicting more frost and fog over the next week, it is vital that the Government starts co-ordinating a national response... Someone in Government should wake up to the serious nature of this crisis and recall the Emergency Planning Office from its Christmas break," he said.
Many roads remain in a "lethal state" with people around the country due to return to work and to schools next week," he said.
Treacherous driving conditions caused many minor accidents but there were no reports of fatalities overnight.
Jim Curran, of ISME, the small businesses association, said that with the huge majority of people returning to work on Monday, it was vital that every effort be made to ensure the public transport system was operating effectively.
They were "extremely disappointed and concerned" at reports that every effort hadn't been made to ensure the public transport system and the roads were gritted effectively so that people could travel.
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce has also called for the Government to look at the number of local authorities in Ireland, more than 100, and whether they could be made to operate more effectively.