Ross has met just two of transport bodies in four months in office
Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30
Transport Minister Shane Ross has met with just two of the country's main public transport bodies - despite taking office over four months ago.
Mr Ross was yesterday forced to defend the fact that he has met none of the trade unions that have a direct role in this week's bus strikes.
The Independent Alliance minister claimed he was not asked to meet the unions involved in the dispute - but insisted he had no problem doing so in the future.
"If they wish to meet me, I'll certainly consider it. I have no reason not to meet them at all," Mr Ross told reporters.
"I have no reason why I shouldn't meet the unions at all."
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Ross said the minister had held meetings with just CIÉ and Dublin Bus.
"The minister has met CIÉ and Dublin Bus and is due to meet Irish Rail and Bus Éireann shortly. Since assuming office, the minister continues to be briefed fully by his department on all key aspects of CIÉ's business activities including industrial relations matters," the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Mr Ross said his officials considered the prospect of allowing motorists to use bus lanes - but that he had been advised that such a move would be "illegal".
"The Government is not going to be a soft touch for either management or unions and people shouldn't think that it will be," the Dublin-Rathdown TD said.
"This is a dispute between the management and the unions and it would be absolutely wrong for me to give any impression the State is going to use its cheque book to sort out this problem."
Mr Ross made the remarks at the 2017 Irish Tourism Industry Awards in Dublin yesterday.
Before the event, Mr Ross defended his claim managing the transport sector was a "doddle".
The statement, made by Mr Ross during an interview on 'The Late Late Show' on Friday, caused significant anger among union chiefs.
Mr Ross said he was merely drawing a comparison between transport and the controversies that have overshadowed Ireland's Olympic campaign in Rio.
"I had been told that sport would be the kind of good news story and transport would be much more difficult and sport turned out to be a really difficult part of the portfolio," Mr Ross said.