Wednesday 26 October 2016

The Yates anthology: Bus drivers are wrong

Published 02/05/2015 | 02:30

Bus Eireann
Bus Eireann

I'm a daily customer of Dublin bus - No.1 to be precise. It's a great service: punctual, efficient, clean, with friendly drivers.

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Because I don't drive a car, due to chronic back problems, I often use Bus Éireann for race meetings at Navan and Naas - even more comfortable. Empathy however, for this weekend's shutdown by Siptu and NBRU is in short supply. The disruption to more than a million commuters is utterly disproportionate for what might hypothetically happen in three years.

I still don't understand it. Ten percent of Bus Éireann services up for tender mostly relate to Waterford. Nothing tangible in relation to pay rates, security of employment, rosters, over-time or pensions is imperilled. The Government has given a reassurance that no employee will suffer diminution in their terms/conditions or be obliged to transfer over to private operators.

Opening up competition gives consumers choice, and all sea and air transport markets are subject to EU ground rules prohibiting state-sponsored interference.

Public transport is a low margin business. International experience, particularly in the UK, shows critical mass in cities means a monopoly for a single provider. Economies of scale and greater efficiency are best ensured by avoiding cherrypicking the busiest routes. Post the tendering procedures, the most likely scenario is Dublin Bus will remain as is, indefinitely. Bus Éireann already is subject to intense price wars from private coach operators. This dispute could cripple that nationwide carrier, driving consumers onto rival services, forfeiting millions in revenue.


The culmination of the jump racing season occurs today with the crowning of champions: owner (Gigginstown Stud), trainer (Willie Mullins), jockey (Ruby Walsh) and amateur (Patrick Mullins). Their respective collective domination continued apace throughout the festival. Despite hailstorms and biting winds, the craic was mighty. Enjoyment takes precedent over horsey heroics and even gambling.

The infamous former Galway tent at the Ballybritt summer festival is put firmly in the shade by the myriad of Punchestown Pavilions. There is a spectacular growth in corporate socialising and GAA fundraising at the Kildare venue that is unmatched at any other racing event. Wily Dick O'Sullivan glad-hands sponsoring hosts with his sweet, slick charm.

A minor misgiving about this year's festival? It's a pity Tony McCoy couldn't have finished his career here. His mega Sandown send-off last Saturday was truly tearful for addicted fans like myself.

Dressing for a wedding while going to the races won't ever connect with me. National Hunt racing is about horses, not hats. Roll on summertime and the flat classics.

Looking away

Politicians fail to face up to issues of life and death. Three cheers for Judge Pat McCartan and the jury in relation to Gail O'Rorke's criminal trial. His ruling, that there was insufficient evidence on charges of assisting suicide, effectively meant a summary dismissal of two-thirds of the DPP's case. Public prosecutor Claire Loftus must answer why Ms O'Rorke was the first person prosecuted under this law. I don't believe this case should have ever proceeded. The words of late Bernadette Forde, while suffering intense pain in the final stages of multiple sclerosis, made compelling listening. She alone was the ultimate arbiter of circumstances and timing of her death.

We've learned nothing from litigation on behalf of late Marie Fleming and her family. They unsuccessfully tried to obtain court approval to put an end to her intolerable illness. Supreme Court judges directly called upon politicians to exercise their responsibilities in reviewing this legislation. When suicide was decriminalised, issues surrounding those who are physically incapable of ending their lives without assistance weren't dealt with. Perhaps worse than death itself is the powerlessness of coping with the realities of terminal illness. We all aspire to a peaceful, painless passing.

Irish Independent

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