Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar has announced an initiative to maintain rural roads.

Under the plan, local authorities will be given permission to re-allocate Government road funding of €42m on the upkeep and maintenance of the existing road network.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Varadkar said it would allow the local authorities the flexibility to divert money from road improvements to repair and maintenance instead.

He said there was also €2.7m of new money going into drainage works, as excess water is often a cause of road deterioration.

However, the minister signalled that next year funding will be cut again.

Minister Varadkar said the focus will therefore have to be on maintenance.

This, he said, meant that there will not be grants for the improvement of local roads, such as widening or straightening projects.

He said this would come as a disappointment to people in some rural communities.

Mr Varadkar said he would also be calling on local authorities to increase their discretionary use of the funds from motor tax in maintaining roads.

The minister acknowledged that there was a real and growing problem with the state of local tertiary roads.

He said that this was because local authorities and the Department of Transport had cut costs, and there was not enough money to repair these roads.