A truck negotiating a treacherous road near Slane during snowfall last year. Keeping roads clear will be a priority for the county council this winter if similar conditions persist.
A suggestion that members of the public be supplied with information on snow and frost conditions on Meath's roads by Facebook and Twitter has been made by a county councillor.
Details of Meath County Council's plans for coping with emergencies during severe weather were outlined at the October meeting of the council by the county's civil defence officer, Michael Fitzsimons, and council engineer, Andrew Bagnall.
Cllr Nick Killian, who made the suggestions about distribution about up-to-date information to the public, praised the staff of the county council for their work during last winter's severe weather spell. He said that many staff had worked long hours, some of them with little sleep. He thanked council official Olive Falsey for keeping councillors up-to-date on developments throughout the county.
He said that social networks were becoming more important in the distribution of information and the council should make more use of them. Cllr Eugene Cassidy, referring to the briefing by the two officials, said "it is good to know where we stand going into the year ahead". He said that last year's weather was probably the worst they had ever experienced.
"I would like to think we are prepared and we would seem to be well-prepared," he added. It was his own view that, during snowy weather, almost all roads were passable "if people would slow down". He referred to the gritting of several roads in his own area and said that while the Cavan side of the R165 was gritted, the Meath side was not.
Cllr Oliver Fox said the advance information provided by the officials seemed to be very comprehensive.
Council official Kevin Stewart said that councillors would need to list roads they wanted added to the list of those to be gritted. However, he said that for every road added to the list, councillors would want to submit the name of a road which should be taken off. There was only so much the council could do, he said.
Cllr Noel Leonard said that, many years ago, piles of grit were put outside schools and this grit could be used in severe weather. He said he had been told the reason for not placing them on roads now was that it might be stolen. He said that the council seemed to be in a better position this year to cope with any situation which might arise.
Cllr Bill Carey raised the issue of insurance as it applied to the clearance of snow outside commercial premises. He was in favour of the American model which enforced "the clearing of snow outside your premises and be fined if you don't".
He added: "It is laziness for people not to clear the footpaths of snow outside their premises."
Cllr Sirena Campbell said that the people of her areas of east Meath were particularly handicapped by severe weather last year. "We have one road in and one road out" to the peninsula, she said, calling for clearing of snow from access roads to the main routes.
Cllr Catherine Yore said the farming community were standing by, willing to help out in severe weather conditions.
Cllr Wayne Harding said it was extremely important that the route from the M1 motorway to the interpretive centre at Brú na Bóinne be kept clear. This was a major tourist centre and there was no excuse for leaving it blocked by snow and inaccessible to visitors, he declared.
Cllr Francis Deane said that, during last winter's severe weather, there had been confusion involving the emergency contact telephone service operated from Cork and he wanted that cleared up.
Cllr Brian Fitzgerald said the council had had to "take the flak" for the National Roads Authority last year. "Nobody expects every road to be done," he said, "but some people literally could not get out of their homes for two or three weeks."
Cllr Tracey McElhinney called for the widespread gritting of roads in south Meath.