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Ian Mallon: Why our sneering yeti-like transport minister should go back into hiding

THE Abominable Transport Minister is absolutely right when he says the Irish public had "not needed to see or hear" from him during the greatest emergency in 40 years. We do not need to see nor hear from the Yeti-like Noel Dempsey ever again.

Rumours of the fabled minister abounded for days, and even his hapless replacement, Minister for Snow John Gormley, wondered if he really existed.

A rare sighting of the mythical Mr Dempsey took place yesterday and I hope it will be the last one we ever see, given the gibberish he delivered as he stepped out of the wilderness.

While the minister was flip flopping around his five-star retreat, I and thousands like me suffered since Wednesday evening without his assistance.

I, like many commuters who don't live on a primary route in County Kildare, have developed a bout of cabin fever that will only be sated by his sacking.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen should abandon this most inept Transport Minister of our generation -- and I include the hapless Martin Cullen in that -- with the same ruthlessness that he abandoned us in our hour of need.

Don't forget this is the same Minister for Transport whose very last piece of work before his obviously urgent Maltese "obligations", was to postpone the opening of the much-needed €300m, 27km stretch of motorway from Kilcullen to Carlow at the whim good pal and fellow Fianna Failer, Sean Power.

When the Herald highlighted the debacle before Christmas the minister immediately reversed his decision and announced that the road was to be opened immediately, "ahead of schedule".

But nothing matched the sneering swagger of the Meath man yesterday as he grinned through his newly acquired tan and wrung his hands of the snow scandal, that could well be the last straw between the public and this Government.

"I don't think I would have been able to prevent the weather from happening whether I was in the country or out of the country," he scoffed, from his crumbling pedestal.

All that was missing to complete the farce was Homer Simpson crashing through the front door in his 'Mr Plough' guise, with Mary Coughlan acting as navigator.

But sadly the real events were the most farcical of all, as Mr Dempsey scowled to the assembled media who braved the elements in order to record his latest piffle, as he shrugged: "I had other obligations."

No you don't minister -- at a time of a national transport emergency your obligations are to the Irish people, and if you cannot see that, then why not come down County Kildare and see for yourself.

I live in a small village on a secondary road outside Kilcullen -- yes, near the almost postponed motorway -- that has been cut off from the world for four days, save for those with 4x4s.

There has been no bin collection, most homes have had their pipes frozen and few provisions are getting through to the local shop.

Following his latest act of buffoonery, I've come to the conclusion that Dempsey must have been on the moon for his Christmas holidays, if he has no idea just how serious this situation is.

Well minister, feel free to take another break, and please make it permanent this time.