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Thursday 18 September 2014

Thousands of GAA fans disrupted by Irish Rail strike

Published 23/08/2014 | 14:21

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THOUSANDS face a weekend of disruption as Irish Rail staff go on strike over the next two days in opposition to proposed pay cuts.

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Action by staff today and tomorrow will mark two of five planned strikes that will cost the organisation at least €3.1m in lost ticket sales and government funding.

This weekend alone will cost Irish rail €1.3m in revenue losses.

The action tomorrow will be a major inconvenience to GAA supporters in Kerry and Mayo as their sides clash in Croke Park, with over 20,000 fans affected by the strikes.

A further 160,000 commuters will be affected by the time the strike ends Monday.

The GAA are advising patrons travelling to the football semi-final to allow more time for their journeys and to consider using other public transport services.

At least 60 busses are expected to descend on the capital from Kerry today while an “unprecedented” number of coaches are expected to arrive from Mayo.

Mayo GAA PRO Aiden McLoughlin said that this could pose huge issues.

“The biggest problem is that people are wondering what time they will have to leave at because the road is going to be severely busy on the way to Dublin and a lot of busses on the road are going to slow things down. That has the potential to clog the whole thing up if people are leaving at the same time,” he said.

Mayo supporters Barry Brennan and Deirdre Ni Dhomhnaill travelled up to Dublin for the match today to avoid the chaos.

“We’ll have to get a lift back after the match because we cannot get a train,” said Deirdre.

They decided to make a weekend of their trip by travelling a day before the match but Barry said this works out more expensive.

“The accommodation was €120 and the train was €15 each so it is a more expensive weekend.”

Kerry fan Francis O’Callaghan made the journey from his home in Lixnaw with his son Francis Jnr but was sympathetic to the strikers.

“I changed my plans on account of the strike but I don’t disagree with it because the workers need to be looked after,” said Francis Snr.

“I have a drive home organised for tomorrow,” he added.

Anyone travelling to the match by car is asked to be wary of increased traffic volumes on routes to the capital.

A spokesperson for the GAA said: “To facilitate the early arrival of supporters, the turnstiles will open 30 minutes earlier at 12pm. All private coaches are asked to approach Croke Park via the M50 to the Port Tunnel and East Wall Road. Mountjoy Square will not be available to coaches.”

Businesses in Dublin believe that this weekend’s strike will cost the city up to €25m and Junior Minister for Sport and Tourism Michael Ring said the strikes will also impact on tourists visiting Ireland in the middle of the peak summer season.

“People come to this country and expect the train to be available and expect to be able to travel up and down the country. People have been very badly inconvenienced now,” said the Minister.

Further strike action is due to take place on three days in September as staff target the GAA hurling and football finals.

Staff are angry that Irish Rail plan to impose temporary pay cuts of up to 6.1pc.

The cuts are deemed necessary by the firm who made losses of €16.4m last year and despite passenger numbers being up by 2.7pc in 2014 the Labour Court

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