Saturday 23 September 2017

Donohoe chose to 'suppress' report on the crisis at Bus Éireann, claims FF

Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil is accusing Paschal Donohoe of "suppressing" a report on the financial problems facing Bus Éireann in advance of last year's General Election.

The Opposition party claims Mr Donohoe failed to act on an initial review of the company in late 2015.

The current minister, Shane Ross, has said that report "essentially came up with a similar analysis" to one that is currently being used as the basis for cost-cutting measures. Email correspondence obtained under Freedom of Information shows Mr Donohoe was aware of the first report in the build-up to Christmas 2015.

Officials warned the minister that trade unions were "very concerned" about possible cost-cutting measures, adding: "However, we don't detect any immediate action on that front."

In reply, Mr Donohoe wrote: "We will have to get together early Jan to refine how we will handle all of this. Will obviously heat up in run into election."

Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy says this was evidence that efforts were made to play down the significance of the impending crisis at Bus Éireann.

"As a result of Minister Donohoe's decision to suppress this report, we have lost a year to address Bus Éireann's financial problems and the company is now in a much deeper hole than this time last year," Mr Troy told the Irish Independent.

A spokeswoman for Mr Donohoe rejected "any suggestion of inaction". "He was very focused on the financial state of CIÉ and the sustainability of the company," she said.

The spokeswoman pointed to comments made by the Public Expenditure Minister in the Dáil this week when he said he "began the process of increasing investment in the CIÉ group after many years of that not being possible".

Mr Troy said questions had to be asked about why the Department of Transport was now allowing Bus Éireann to act on the new report but hadn't on the original one.

Irish Independent

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