Belfast Telegraph

Cash for councils to cope with snow

Cash-strapped councils have been promised millions of euro to help cope with the big freeze as parts of the country lay paralysed under a blanket of snow.

The conditions have caused further havoc with flights, rail and bus services, court cases, sporting fixtures, entertainment events and functions being cancelled.

Authorities are also keeping a close eye on reservoir levels over fears of water shortages similar to last January as householders ran taps to stop pipes freezing.

Met Eireann forecaster Ger Fleming confirmed there would be no let up in the bitter cold with another 3 to 5 cm of snow expected in the east coast and mercury levels set to plunge as low as minus 13C again.

Rain is forecast to move into the west of the country, which should see milder if wetter conditions, ahead of the weekend before a very gradual thaw begins towards next week. Mr Fleming said it will take at least a week for snow to thaw out in the east of the country, which has allayed fears of flooding which can result from a quick thaw.

As parts of the country remained under several inches of snow, Environment Minister John Gormley was forced to stump up an extra 15 million euro for local authorities to cover costs linked to the extreme weather.

"The current cold weather is starting to break records," he said. "It has been almost 40 years since we have had snow and ice so early in the winter, and it is unusual for the cold weather to persist so intensely without respite."

As the cold snap continued to take its toll, authorities revealed that road salt is now being rationed as gritters were using three times normal amounts just to keep major routes open.

Hundreds of schools remained shut while civil cases being heard at the Four Courts had to be postponed.

Dublin Airport also came to a standstill with around 100 flights in and out of the country's main air hub suspended for the second day in a row.

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