Ross: 'Not my job' to intervene in Bus Éireann row
Transport Minister Shane Ross has said it is not his job to interfere with Bus Éireann proposals to separate its Expressway service from the rest of the company.
Mr Ross was told by TDs that the controversial move would leave parts of rural Ireland "totally isolated" and see workers subjected to lower terms and conditions.
However, the Independent Alliance minister said that it was not his place to get involved, despite the threat of strike action by drivers over the plan.
He confirmed that Bus Éireann management had briefed him about the "dire state in which they find themselves, and I listened".
Under questioning from members of the Dáil's Transport Committee, he denied he had sat at the meeting "like a stuffed dummy". "The plans that Bus Éireann have are only plans at the moment. I am not under any circumstances going to comment one way or the other on negotiations between management and unions. That would be ministerial interference, and I've repeated time and time and time again that a minister will not interfere in the negotiations between management and unions in any semi-State," he said, adding, "That's not my job."
However, Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy said that left rural areas open to the risk of being "totally isolated".
"If this goes ahead there'll be towns and villages across the length and breadth of Ireland that will be left without public transport, minister," he said.
Mr Ross also told the committee that while he wants to get extra money for the Department of Transport in next week's Budget, he is competing with other big departments. He said the money available to give a subvention to Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail is "nothing like enough". "It would be much better if it was higher."