Kenny: 'Bus strike causing untold damage'
Published 24/09/2016 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that "untold damage" is being done to Dublin's economy by the increasingly bitter bus strike.
Mr Kenny appealed to both sides to hold face-to-face talks as he ruled out any direct Government intervention to end the escalating pay dispute.
His appeal came as Dublin commuters faced another day of transport misery, with the strikes to date having cost the company more than €4m.
Thirteen more days of strike action are planned after today, including a stoppage on October 1, the day of the Dublin-Mayo All Ireland football final replay.
Transport Minister Shane Ross warned he will not personally intervene and will not be "a sugar daddy" to the bus firms.
The Taoiseach urged both sides of the dispute to take up a Labour Court offer to facilitate talks.
"This is a very sensitive time in Ireland as we approach a major retailing period," he said, adding: "This will do untold damage to the economy of Dublin."
Mr Kenny also spoke of the inconvenience to commuters and said he hopes management and drivers can reach a compromise to "allow everybody to get back to work".
He defended beleaguered Transport Minister Shane Ross's handling of the dispute.
"The minister has made that appeal [for talks] on a number of occasions," he said.
The strike will also hit the 'March for Choice' abortion rights rally, which takes place this afternoon.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said she is encouraging supporters of repealing the Eighth Amendment - the law that gives equal status to the life of a mother and unborn child - to turn out regardless.
She said it is a "complication" that the march coincides with the industrial action but added: "I'm fairly sure, given the depth of feeling on this issue, that people will make other arrangements and will get into Dublin city centre."
Her party is backing the drivers in their pay claim and she indicated that support will continue even if the dispute escalates to an all-out strike.
"I hope it won't come to that," she said but added that she respects the right of workers "to vindicate their rights if necessary by means of strike action".
She called on Mr Ross to intervene and said that strike has "caused huge complications in my household just as right across the city" but added that she believes the drivers "still enjoy quite a substantial amount of public support".