Speaking at Leaders Questions in the Dáil on 21st Feb Deputy Healy said
“All citizens have a right to a satisfactory and good-quality public transport service. It is the duty of the State to ensure that such a service is provided. It cannot and must not be left to market forces.
Members of the public in my Tipperary constituency and in rural areas generally are entitled to the same standard of public transport as the constituents of the Minister, Deputy Ross, here in Dublin.
Yesterday, Bus Éireann proposed the closure of the Clonmel to Dublin bus service among others. This is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Of course, it comes on the back of the closure of the Carrick-on-Suir to Dublin bus service in 2015. It comes on the back of the proposed closure of the Limerick to Waterford rail service and the Limerick to Ballybrophy rail service. The Limerick to Waterford rail line servicing Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, Cahir and Tipperary town is being undermined on a daily basis by management regularly and frequently cancelling trains on that line. In addition, the main social and economic corridor across the south of the county, the N24, has been left out of the road capital programme, which is particularly damaging to the Tipperary town and Carrick-on-Suir. Of course, the failure to build the Thurles bypass, which has been overlooked for years, resulting in chaos in the square, turning it into a car park.
County Tipperary is not getting a fair crack of the whip.
A Fine Gael led Government already abolished Clonmel Borough Council and the town councils in Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel, Tipperary town, Thurles, Templemore and Nenagh. A Fine Gael led Government with the help of the Labour Party also closed the St. Michael’s 50 bed psychiatric unit at South Tipperary General Hospital. Now north Tipperary patients must travel to Ennis and south Tipperary patients must travel to Kilkenny to avail of a service that is inadequate and substandard.
The abandonment of County Tipperary must stop.
I am asking the Taoiseach if he will give an assurance to stop any threat to the Clonmel to Dublin bus service. Will he give an assurance to re-establish the Carrick-on-Suir to Dublin bus service? After 20 years of waiting, will the Taoiseach give the go-ahead for the N24 upgrading, including the bypass of Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir? Also after 20 years, will the Taoiseach give the go-ahead for the bypass of Thurles this afternoon?
We have been waiting for 20 years for both the N24 upgrade and the Thurles bypass. The Taoiseach’s Government and the previous Government starved public transport and road budgets. The road budgets fell between 2007 and 2015 by €1.722 billion. The State subvention to CIE was slashed by €132 million, from €321 million in 2008 to €189 million in 2015. The State subvention to Bus Éireann is down €16.3 million from €49.4 million to €33.1 million. The free travel contribution from the Department of Social Protection is completely inadequate. It has been capped for years despite increased numbers and the fact that 30% of Bus Éireann’s passengers are availing of free travel.
In June 2016, the Taoiseach wrote to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, seeking permission to borrow money for infrastructural works. He said at the time that investment in infrastructure in Ireland was “at its lowest level for many years, and also represents the lowest level of any member state at present”. He got no reply, or none that we heard of.
Italy recently told President Juncker it will borrow money with or without his permission.
I ask the Taoiseach to do likewise. Will he reassert Irish sovereignty and put the right of the Irish people to proper transport infrastructure, and other capital investment such as housing, before the EU and EU diktats.”
Seamus Healy T.D. 22/2/2017
Tel: 087 2802199
Deputy Healy raised with the Minister for Transport the issue of poor public transport, the continuous cancellation of services and the closure of routes for the people of Tipperary and indeed throughout Ireland.
Seamus Healy TD: I am sharing my time with Deputy Eamon Ryan. It is entirely proper that the Minister’s constituents and the people of Dublin have good quality public transport such as the DART, Luas and bus services, both in Dublin and from Dublin to all the major towns and cities throughout the country. The towns in my constituency such as Ballina, Nenagh, Roscrea, Templemore, Tipperary town, Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel and Clonmel have substantially fewer transport rights and substandard bus and rail service. We have lost our bus routes in Carrick-on-Suir and the Minister and Iarnród Éireann want to close our rail lines through Ballybrophy, as well as the Limerick-Waterford line, where trains are cancelled almost on a daily basis and which is earmarked for closure by the Government. My constituents are entitled to the same adequate, good-quality transport service as are the people of Dublin. Far from cuts and the closure of routes, we need more services. The Minister should enact legislation to ensure more good quality transport services for all. The public, the elderly and social welfare recipients, wherever they are in the country, are entitled to a good quality public transport service at reasonable rates. Public transport services should not be subject to market forces as they are public services.
The current difficulties are as a result of Government policy going back at least as far as 2009, which has been continued under the Minister and the current Government. The subvention has been reduced from €44 million in 2009 to €33 million currently and the difficulty is anything but an industrial relations dispute. It is a policy issue that has been driven by the Minister and the Government. The difficult financial state of affairs of the company is largely as a result of the reduction in the subsidy and the free travel scheme, which is inadequately subvented by the Government.
The attack on Bus Éireann workers is a deliberate and vicious assault, not only on their pay but on their conditions. A 30% reduction in pay is absolutely unacceptable and must and will be opposed trenchantly by the workers. It is more than an attack on the workers at Bus Éireann, however. It is attack on all workers, whether they be in the public or the private sector, and it is the thin end of the wedge for privatisation. The company must and will be defeated and strike action, including a sympathetic strike, is the right and only response to this vicious attack on workers by the company.