Friday 9 December 2016

Councillor's unique solution to Luas strike crisis sparks outrage

Martin Grant

Published 20/05/2016 | 02:30

Fine Gael councillor Paddy Smyth sparked fury by suggesting Luas trams should drive themselves in the future. Photo: PA
Fine Gael councillor Paddy Smyth sparked fury by suggesting Luas trams should drive themselves in the future. Photo: PA

A Dublin councillor has sparked fury by suggesting Luas trams should drive themselves in the future.

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Fine Gael councillor Paddy Smyth has proposed a motion calling for the Government to ensure that all new Luas trams are "future proof" and capable of being fitted with self-driving software.

His calls come as Luas drivers strike for the 12th time today.

Mr Smyth said: "We do not need to have a human being...we could have it done far better, far safer, by just automating the process, and negated the whole city being ground to a halt."

However, his proposal, which will be debated next week at the Dublin City Council's Transport Committee, has been opposed by other parties.

Councillor Michael O'Brien of the Anti-Austerity Alliance described the motion as "obnoxious" and called on other members to vote against it.

The Luas will be closed today with tram services not due to resume until 6.30am tomorrow.

Meanwhile, further industrial action is planned for next Thursday when the service will shut down for four hours from 3pm.

And next Friday there will be further transport headaches as a full day of strike action is planned, coinciding with Bruce Springsteen performing in Croke Park and the Irish soccer team playing Holland in a friendly at the Aviva.

Businesses across the capital fear a damaging slump in sales as the Luas pay dispute continues.

Chaotic

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) is expecting traffic delays across the city. "People will be driving in and the traffic in the centre of the city will be chaotic," said ISME chief Mark Fielding.

"It creates all sorts of mayhem. It's such a pity coming into the summer and this dispute is ongoing. It cannot be allowed to just continue. Somebody needs to be sitting down and banging heads together."

He said traders have reported a 12.5pc drop in sales on days when the Luas is not running, adding that it puts people off coming into the city.

Meanwhile, the union representing Luas workers has accepted that their pay campaign does not have public support.

Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy said the door remains open for talks with Luas operator Transdev.

"In any transport dispute it is never popular, particularly when it goes on so long," he said.

Transdev said yesterday it would consider other lawful means of bringing the dispute to an end, and added that it remains open to talks.

Irish Independent

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