| 12.6°C Dublin

Planes, trains and buses battle to unite families

THE country remained in the grip of the big freeze today as transport workers battled to get people home for Christmas.

Dublin Airport was fully operational again this morning.

"Our crews worked throughout the night to clear snow and ice in preparation for the first wave of arriving and departing flights this morning while temperatures on the airfield dropped as low as -10C," the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said today.

"While heavy snowfalls are not predicted this morning, our snow and ice crew are on standby should weather conditions deteriorate further," it added.

Some 270 flights and 40,000 passengers were affected by the most recent closure late yesterday evening.

Cork and Shannon airports operated normally, as did Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Eireann, Bus Eireann and Luas services.


However, delays were reported on the Dart this morning, while buses were subject to diversions and curtailments.

"We have teams out at the important locations in Dublin so they can address any issues quickly," Barry Kenny, of Iarnrod Eireann, told the Herald.

The rail company said it expected to carry 300,000 customers over the holidays. In an unprecedented move, Bus Eireann will have vehicles running on some intercity routes on Christmas Day to ensure passengers can get home.

Roads remained in extremely hazardous conditions today following freezing overnight temperatures.

Nicola Hudson of AA Roadwatch said heavy snow continued falling in Dublin late into the night and there was deep snow lying across the city and suburbs.


City roads were white with snow, but the traffic was light in the capital early this morning.

The M50 was again dangerous and there was ice on the M1 southbound.

Temperatures of -17C were recorded in Donegal as record low levels continue to be recorded around the country.

Emotions were running high at airports in Dublin and Europe as people realised their travel plans were ruined.

Aideen Fahy, who will not be able to make the journey from Paris to see her family in Co Mayo, told RTE radio that Ryanair brought the "Italians home, they've brought the Spanish home, they've brought every other nation they fly into home and they've left all of the Irish stranded".

However, Stephen McNamara of Ryanair refuted this claim, saying the airline was working to the limit to try to get everyone people home.

"Ryanair did not abandon anybody anywhere in Europe. It can never be put into question the amount of effort that has gone in from everyone in Ryanair, Aer Lingus and at the airports to try and get everybody home," he said.

"This is a national emergency at this stage to try and get people home."

Declan Kearney of Aer Lingus said every airline and airport had been battling against the elements for weeks.

"Not everyone is going to get home before Christmas at this stage," he added.

Mr Kearney had said yesterday that he was confident all passengers would get back.