Monday 26 September 2016

Consultation vital to halt transport strike

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

The gathering transport threats at Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, and now Iarnród Éireann, must be contained. The breakdown in relations bears all the hallmarks of "mutually assured destruction" as management and unions go to war, and the nation's commuters become collateral damage.

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Transport Minister Shane Ross is adamant he will not intervene. But his way of "not intervening" leaves much to be desired. Yesterday, he explained that he did not wish to be seen as a "sugar daddy". This was a regrettable term given the explosive situation: The Urban Dictionary defines the phrase as: "A rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favour." One can appreciate that Mr Ross had no interest in being regarded in such a light. But his choice of words will have done little to build bridges.

Resentments that have been simmering over the austerity years are in danger of erupting. The Government needs to be protecting its flanks not opening up new fronts. The whole scenario is beginning to feel like it came straight out of the Homer Simpson playbook: "If you don't like your job you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way."

The perma-frost that has descended over the industrial landscape has to be thawed out, but this will only happen when reason and reality are brought to bear.

There are red lines that have to be handled: Bus Éireann wants to turn Expressway into a "low wage bus service." This has to be negotiated and teased out, without threats. The National Bus and Railworkers Union accused the company of dropping a bombshell. If the business is to be separated from the rest of Bus Éireann then deals must be struck. Rail workers have intimated that they will not "stand idly by" and see their colleagues undermined. A triple transport strike will not settle issues like competition, productivity, low wages or poor working relations. General Secretary of the NBRU Dermot O'Leary, believes that: "The current Dublin Bus dispute and this crisis at Bus Éireann are not unconnected."

The State's stewardship, and massive investment in public partnership is not a given. The involvement of the private sector is likely to grow as it has all over Europe. But change has to be managed equitably. Consultation and cooperation, not confrontation must be the way forward.

Adams must be probed over Donaldson allegation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's call for a full investigation into the claims that Gerry Adams sanctioned the murder of Denis Donaldson must be acted upon.

Sinn Féin has gone into predictable "attack and deny" mode at the allegations but the searching questions raised are too important not to be treated seriously. Mr Adams has confirmed his willingness to be interviewed by gardaí. The Garda must also come clean as to why it has so trenchantly resisted the holding of an inquest into the 2006 killing. It has repeatedly opposed the holding of an inquest into the gruesome shotgun slaying, but without explanation.

Mr Adams is the leader of a main political party in this country and can not have such a grave allegation hanging over him. His repeated denials of membership of the IRA have diminished his credibility in many parts of the country. There are no good reasons at this remove not to lift the lid on the murky world of intelligence gathering in the North. If as Sinn Féin wants us to believe, it is all just another grand conspiracy cooked up by securocrats to demonise them, then they have nothing to fear from a full investigation. But the full facts must be uncovered.

Irish Independent

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