The scene of uproar that marred the quarterly meeting of the Portumna District Council was, in all conscience, a degrading exhibition. But there is not a right-thinking man in Co. Galway who will not approve of, and back up, the attitude of Mr. Kennedy, the newly-appointed Co. Surveyor.
As the turmoil roared around him, he spoke with quiet emphasis. “Earn your money,” he told the howling contractors, “and you will get it. If you think you can frighten me, you are mistaken. You will not deter me from doing my duty. If you don’t conduct yourself, you will be cleared out.”
It is no credit to our county that a public official is this forced to speak in his own defence, but it is certainly a matter for congratulation that at least we have a public official whom no loud shouting or contemptible threats will dissuade from the straight and honest path of duty.
We earnestly hope that Mr. Kennedy will live up to the reputation he has earned. Our roads are admitted to be the worst in Ireland; and it is by no means certain that the contractors are altogether to blame.
In the past, they have scarcely been taught how to do right and justice by their contracts. The reputation of the county has suffered accordingly, and the work of transit and traffic over out public highways has been rendered a tortuous, and, in some instances, a dangerous proceeding. The matter has attained the dimensions of a great public scandal.
At Portumna District Council, Mr. Moran, Co. Surveyor reported: “Very little work has been done in your district during the quarter.
The gross quantity of material specified for all your roads is approximately 7,040 tons, and out of this amount, about 2,600 tons, or slightly less than 37%, has been laid down.
“With such a deficiency staring us in the face, and at a period of the year most favourable for work of the description, it is out of the question to expect much road improvement in your district, and this is principally the reason why we find bare and rough surfaced roads so plentiful in your district.
“The work of surface cleaning, so essential in bad weather, has been very much neglected in your district. It is astonishing how periodical cleansing helps to preserve a road, especially is such situations where drainage is naturally defective.
“A noticeable feature in the work of road maintenance in your district is the want of skill in doing surface work. For instance, in some cases, we find the high or ridgy portions of the road getting all the material, while the weak and depressed portions are neglected.”