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Saturday 24 August 2019

'More interested in tweeting about Man Utd' - Transport Minister Shane Ross castigated in Dáil over travel chaos

Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gerry Mooney
John Downing

John Downing

Transport Minister Shane Ross has been accused of “tweeting about Manchester United” and “planning fantasy trips to North Korea” while 155,000 rail passengers are left stranded by the Iarnród Éireann strike.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar countered that the rail strike will be resolved by the State industrial relations machinery. 

But he said that pay disputes in the CIÉ group always appeared “to require a few days of strikes” before they could be fixed.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, said Mr Ross had promised a national transport forum during a bus strike in the summer – but nothing had been done.

Mr Martin said the Minister had neglected the transport system and had an antipathy towards the CIÉ group of rail and bus companies, and some €103m extra was required by Iarnród Éireann just to keep standards of railway lines and carriages up to date. 

He said the workers did not get a pay rise in 10 years and did not want to be on strike.

“The Minister is more interested in tweeting about the fortunes of Manchester United or publicly contemplating a fantasy visit to North Korea,” Mr Martin said.

Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, also said the Transport Minister had shown no interest in the issue. “Perhaps he’s Minister for North Korea in his own head. I suppose a rail strike like this is a very trivial matter for him,” Mr Adams said.

Replying, the Taoiseach said he appreciated that people were very badly affected, so were rail staff, and other businesses operating in and around railway stations. But Mr Varadkar insisted that this strike would be resolved like all other disputes.

The Taoiseach said it was regrettable that CIÉ pay disputes appeared to usually require “a few days strike.”

“It will be resolved in the normal way involving the auspices of the State industrial relations apparatus, including the Labour Relations Commission, and if necessary the Labour Court,” the Taoiseach said.

The Taoiseach also insisted that the Government was committed to ensuring the railways were properly funded and safe.

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