Monday 20 February 2017

'I'd love to do it' - Ross's U-turn on the opening of bus lanes during action

Robin Schiller

Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30

Transport Minister Shane Ross speaking to the media yesterday Photo: Frank McGrath
Transport Minister Shane Ross speaking to the media yesterday Photo: Frank McGrath

Transport Minister Shane Ross has done a U-turn on his previous claim that he is not prepared to open bus lanes for motorists during the Dublin Bus strike.

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Just days after saying such a move would be illegal, Mr Ross told reporters that he now "won't rule it out".

But the Independent Alliance TD again refused to intervene in the industrial dispute between management and unions, insisting that he is not prepared to be seen as "having a soft touch".

During the week, Siptu announced that a further 10 days of industrial action were planned for October, as crunch talks between Dublin Bus and its workers have failed to yield any positive outcome.

When he was previously asked about opening bus lanes to help ease the flow of the extra volume of traffic, Mr Ross stated that it would be illegal.

He has now backtracked on this statement, saying he wouldn't rule out opening bus lanes to commercial vehicles.

He said: "We looked at his very carefully and we're still looking at this very carefully.

"I'm taking advice from both the gardaí and from the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

"I think the advice I'm getting, particularly from the RSA, is that it might have really serious safety issues, particularly for fire services and for cyclists.

"I'm not ruling it out. You realise I'd love to do it but the advice I'm getting is that there are serious safety issues and I have to take that into account."

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan said that the opening of bus lanes was "not a matter for An Garda Síochána" while noting that other vehicles use bus lanes apart from Dublin Bus. "You have to remember bus lanes are also cycle lanes at times when there are strikes."

She said many private companies also used the cycle lanes during the strikes.

"It's an issue we keep under review and revise with the relevant departments," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"Both bus and cycle lanes are used by other service providers, not least by emergency services when they are needed."

The minister and the commissioner were speaking at the launch of the 'European Day Without a Road Death' event - named Project Edward - at Garda Headquarters in Dublin.

The initiative has been organised by TISPOL, the traffic police network in Europe, and is aimed at having no road fatalities across Europe on Wednesday, September 21.

RSA director Pearse White emphasised that road safety was a shared responsibility. He said Irish people had to improve how they used the roads.

"You might think it's OK to drive a little bit above the speed limit, or to just have a couple of drinks and drive home, or to not bother putting you seatbelt on in the car. But the tragic reality is that these actions could have serious and devastating consequences for others."

Irish Independent

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