‘Fine Gael/Labour Government a disaster for rural Ireland’
Sligo News File Online
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has expressed deep disappointment at the Taoiseach’s refusal to review Bus Éireann’s decision to axe almost 100 routes on its Expressway service or to take measures to ensure the continuation of vital routes.
Raising the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil today, Mr Adams said the Fine Gael/Labour Government has been a disaster for rural Ireland.
Deputy Adams said:
“Bus Éireann’s decision to axe almost 100 routes on its Expressway service represents a huge setback for the people of rural Ireland. Fifteen communities are now to be left without any direct bus services. Dozens more will experience drastic cuts to vital bus links.
“If these cuts go ahead, the major routes affected – Dublin-to-Cork via Kilkenny, Dublin-to-Waterford via Wexford, and Athlone-to-Westport will see 198 services-a-day fall to 105. This is a direct result of years and years of underfunding of public transport by the present and previous Government.
“The Fine Gael/Labour Government has privatised 10% of Bus Éireann routes. They are making it harder and harder for the company to provide links which are economically and socially essential to rural dwellers.
“Bus Éireann has said very clearly that these routes need Government funding in order to survive. Farming and rural community groups have condemned the latest cuts as a further attack on rural Ireland.
“Considering the vital social and economic benefit of linking the affected towns to major public transport routes, the Government and the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe must, as a matter of urgency, review the latest drastic decision by Bus Éireann and take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the continuation of these bus services.
“I am very disappointed in the Taoiseach’s response to my raising of this matter today. Citizens have rights. These include the right to public services no matter where they live.
“This Government has been a disaster for rural Ireland. It is cutting their services – rural schools, Garda stations, health services and post offices. Small and medium business have been starved of credit and neglected by the Government so that many rural towns are simply dying on their feet. Rural areas are going to be left without doctors in the coming years.
“This government has consistently made living in rural Ireland more difficult. It has cut rural transport services, including Iarnród Éireann and increased costs for private car users.
“Bus Éireann is an essential part of our public transport network and provides a good quality service to a huge number of towns and villages that would otherwise be isolated. The private model will not work in the interests of rural communities. The outworking of this will mean a less efficient and less reliable service.
“It will mean reduced wages and conditions for employees, an increase in fares and no pension arrangements for workers.
“It is clear from what he said today, that Government is not prepared to adequately fund Bus Éireann and the maintenance of vital public transport links for our small towns and rural communities.”