Storm Isha’s destructive trail has exposed hundreds of ash trees infected with the harmful ash dieback disease, Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has said.

He has called on Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien to put in place a fund to allow local authorities across the country to carry out surveys to identify ash dieback in roadside trees and have them removed to prevent the problem spreading.

Ash dieback, he said, is a serious fungal disease which first came to Ireland in 2012 on imported European plants.

“On Monday morning, I was contacted by a number of landowners who told me that many of the roadside ash trees that fell in the wake of storm Isha appeared perfectly healthy, but were found to be infected with this serious disease.

“Ash trees are most common in our hedgerows and often found along our roads. This realisation shows the need for more regular inspection of roadside ash trees," he said.

He argued how it is important to remember that this isn’t just an issue for landowners - many homeowners may have an ash tree in their roadside garden.

"There is a potential liability here for both landowners and homeowners. While there is an ash dieback scheme in place for plantations, there is nothing for roadside trees,” Senator Lombard said.

Storm Isha

Met Éireann recorded hurricane-strength gusts at weather stations during Sunday’s storm. Wind speeds reached 124km/h in areas under status red warning.

“Local authorities and emergency services reported fallen trees all over the country. In many areas fallen trees accounted for road closures.

“By minimising the risk of trees falling, we can remove a major health and safety hazard from our roads, particularly during the severe weather conditions like those brought on by storm Isha and those predicted for storm Jocelyn and future extreme weather events,” Senator Lombard said.