Wednesday 28 September 2016

Ross must get moving on commuters' behalf

Published 16/09/2016 | 02:30

Minister Shane Ross. Pic:Mark Condren
Minister Shane Ross. Pic:Mark Condren

Attempting to interpret the unintelligible is as pointless as trying to understand the combined tactics of Dublin Bus, the Minister for Transport, and the drivers.

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The only significant movement in the dispute yesterday was in its escalation; no doubt the capital's 400,000 commuters were also moved somewhat on learning they face 13 more days of chaos.

All concerned know that they are inflicting pain on each other and causing misery to hundreds of thousands of people, apart from the €4m cost of the strike to date.

You won't find reason in a war which is joined purely because belligerents won't speak to each other, and all sides seem to have chosen quicksand as the ideal location to hold their stand. Siptu's Owen Reidy argued that: "Despite the fact we are currently in the third day of strike action resulting from this dispute, it would seem that the management of Dublin Bus and the Department of Transport have little interest in resolving the outstanding issues." Mr Reidy fails to acknowledge that for the public the "outstanding issue" is the removal of buses from the capital's streets. Every day of strike reduces the company's ability to pay even the 8.25pc already rejected by workers.

As for Minister Ross? He greatly regrets the inconvenience to passengers but nonetheless sees fit to reiterate that any action by him would be seen as an agreement to open up the State cheque book.

This is the only intervention the minister seems capable of imagining. For the record, there are others, Mr Ross. How about offering alternatives, like the Army to alleviate the distress, contain the costs, get people to and from work, and remind all concerned that the public is not to be held to ransom.

Or are we wrong to believe that a core function of his office is to see that the public can get from A to B on vehicles they paid for as taxpayers? And having also paid the bus drivers; that same public also harbours a flickering hope that the said minister might stir himself to ensure they be conveyed to where they hope to get. Or is he of the opinion that to travel hopefully is better than to arrive?

Welcome relief for parents on costs of going to school

Richard Bruton's pragmatic and progressive policy platform in the Department of Education continues to develop.

The tried and trusted formula for reform that the minister initiated in the Department of Enterprise is now being transferred to Marlborough Street with the Action Plan for Education.

Mr Bruton wants our education system to be the best in Europe in 10 years' time. Aspirational, to say the least, but the hundreds of incremental reforms he has outlined in the plan can only bring about improvements and will not do any harm. The lack of detail on additional funding, particularly at third-level, is certainly a deficit, though.

This list of items to be delivered upon will grow and evolve over the coming years. Cleverly, the plan says who is responsible for the individual action, so it will be evident where the buck stops if there is no movement.

Importantly, the outcomes will be measured every three months, so it will be possible for parents and interested parties to measure the progress being made and whether deadlines for delivery are being met.

One area close to the hearts of many parents will be the minister's desire to cut uniform and school book costs. He plans to use parent power to force schools to come in line and bring down prices. Welcome relief is on the way.

Irish Independent

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