Potholes: many of Ireland's main and rural roads were last week said to be in a state of disintegration

The cost of repairs to damaged roads following the recent bad weather could top €1bn, according to leading economist Jim Power.

Councils have meanwhile said they are accepting no liability for claims made by motorists who say their vehicles have been damaged by the ruined roads.

"Local authorities are taking no responsibility for claims, as they can't account for the weather. It looks like it will be a case of most liability for claims falling on the individuals themselves," said Power.

According to a spokesperson for Dublin City Council: "The city council has no liability in cases caused purely by natural conditions and therefore anyone who trips and falls as a result of an icy pavement is not entitled to be compensated for any injury arising there-from.

"If any claims arise against the city council as a result of the recent adverse weather conditions, whether [they] be from pedestrians or motorists, the city council intends to vigorously and strenuously defend such claims and will be looking for its costs."

Dublin City Council has received just two claims in the last week.

Meanwhile, many of Ireland's main and rural roads were last week said to be in a state of disintegration.

"The original cost of repair for the damage caused by weather overall was estimated at €500m per week, but it is now looking to be a much higher figure. Many roads need total restoration," said Power.

"Overall, the cost of repairing and restoring every primary and secondary road in the 26 counties is set to cost in the region of €1bn."

Local authorities also say they are running out of funds for the repairs. A spokesman for Limerick City Council said the council expected to be over €250,000 outside of its budget for road repairs.

"We exceeded our budget for the gritting by fivefold. We have a budget for the road repairs, but because some will have to be completely restored as opposed to just small repairs, we anticipate we are going to be around €250,000 outside of this," he said.

"We anticipate that a review of the budget for roads and repairs will have to be put in place, because we can't assume that the government will pay for all these extra costs."

Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurances (IPB), which deals with most claims for local authorities, declined to comment on the amount of claims received to date from motorists.