Somebody is going to be killed unless urgent action is taken to clear rotten ash trees along the side of public roads, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture has been told.
Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice warned that trees infected with ash dieback needed to be cleared before the worst of the winter storms hit the country.
Deputy Fitzmaurice said a fallen branch from a diseased ash tree had blocked a public road near his home in Roscommon.
Somebody could have been seriously injured or killed if it had fallen on a car or a pedestrian, he said.
Fitzmaurice pointed out that the condition of the ash trees in hedgerows is deteriorating significantly each year due to the progression of the ash dieback.
He said it was now essential that a scheme is introduced that will fund the removal of these trees.
“Someone is going to get killed on some public road very shortly,” Fitzmaurice predicted.
“Every ash tree along public roads should have been cut a year ago,” the west of Ireland TD maintained.
“Something needs to be done on this. I think there is an obligation on the State to protect its citizens,” he added.
It is estimated that over 25 million trees have been infected with ash dieback.
Where the trees are on boundary hedges overlooking roads, it is unclear whether the responsibility for removing them rests with the local council or with the landowner.
However, farmers have been cautioned against cutting down diseased ash trees because they are in such a precarious state.
Similarly, clearing mature plantations that have contracted ash dieback will be difficult as the trees were described as “unpredictable” when being cut.