ROADS Service chiefs have said sorry for not fulfilling a pledge to grit a country road to assist the passage of a funeral during last week's heavy snow, writes Nevin Farrell.

Ulster Unionist councillor Willie Graham had asked Roads Service to put grit down to assist mourners on the Craigalappin Road which is not on the scheduled gritting route.

But despite getting an assurance it would be done, by the time the funeral took place on the Tuesday, nothing had happened.

Cllr Graham said local people went out and "scraped" ice off the road close to the property from where the deceased - a man in his 80s - was being removed.

Cllr Graham told the Times: "Last Monday morning, December 6, I called Roads Service in Ballymoney and said a man had died on the Craigalappin Road to see if they could grit the road for the procession of the funeral to Toberkeigh Church and they said they would do it.

"But we waited and waited and by the time the funeral got under way it still was not done so much so that neighbours went out and scraped the ice off the road themselves.

"Afterwards I rang Roads Service and gave them hell and then I rang their headquarters and I have also written to the government minister responsible for that department.

"They let us down a bagful and they are not fit for purpose. We need a scheme whereby farmers or contractors can do this type of work on rural roads," said Cllr Graham.

A DRD spokesperson said: "Roads Service resources were being readied for the immediate treatment of the roads in the area of the funeral on Monday last when very heavy snow resulted in the redeployment of all resources to deal with the rapid deterioration of the main roads in the area.

"The local Section Engineer sincerely apologises for not providing Roads Service's normal level of service on this occasion."

Apart from the Craigalappin situation, Roads Service did receive praise from many people in the area for helping to keep the major routes open during the big freeze, especially during the heavy snow on Monday of last week.

And there was more thanks when a contractor carried out gritting work on the side streets in Ballymoney which don't normally get gritted.