Road repair firm warns of chaos as it is forced to cut jobs
A family firm forced to cut around 100 jobs due to an end to government contracts has warned of the "deadly" repercussions of failing to fix Northern Ireland's roads.
Dunmurry-based Maurice Flynn and Sons (MFS) had been responsible for a raft of government contracts, including gully cleaning, as well as hedge and grass cutting.
It also operated a range of maintenance contracts for schools across Northern Ireland.
"As many as 100 jobs have been lost, due to cuts in education and roads. It's significant to our business and the health and safety of children," the firm's business development director Mark Spence said.
The Department for Regional Development ended the firm's contracts amid the current budget crisis at Stormont.
Now, Mr Spence has warned of the serious ramifications of failing to cut grass verges and hedges, along with gully cleaning.
"The failure for roadside cleaning is going to become very apparent when the rain and snow comes," he said.
"And coming into the autumn you are going to see a full year, that's going to cause road safety incidents, damage to cars and the safety of children. It is deadly at night, with people stepping over on to the road. It has the potential for deadly situations.
"The minister explained that there was an 18% cut in the budget, and I understand the need for austerity, and we need that across each of the budgets... but health and safety cannot be an issue," Mr Spence said.
His comments come as Danny Kennedy officially resigned his post as DRD minister at midnight.
The sole Ulster Unionist minister was accused of leaving his government department in chaos as he quit the Stormont Executive.
Ukip MLA David McNarry claimed Mr Kennedy had left without giving assurances "that our roads are safe and deterioration will not cause safety problems for all road users".
But earlier this year another family firm went bust after DRD ended its contracts to inspect street lights. Gordon Banks, owner of GB Electrics in Scarva, Co Down, said his firm had to shut its doors, putting around a dozen staff out of work.
The DRD said the department's budget "does not provide for sufficient service provision in areas such as repair of potholes and traffic lights, and other measures such as gully emptying and grass cutting at junctions".