Friday 19 January 2018

Alliance TDs back Ross over bus strike backlash

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Independent Alliance TDs are backing embattled Shane Ross's hands-off approach to the threatened bus strike for the moment.

The Transport Minister has refused to become involved in the dispute between management and unions at Bus Éireann despite calls from the Opposition.

Today he will reject suggestions he is not doing enough to enable a settlement of the Bus Éireann dispute. In his opening statement to the Oireachtas Transport Committee, he will say deputies' claims the Government is attacking rural services is "nonsense" and it is increasing funding.

"The vast majority of people in rural Ireland who use a bus travel on a Public Service Obligation service or a commercial operator other than Expressway," he will say. "There are no threats to those services. The core issue that must be resolved is how to tackle the unsustainable losses on Expressway commercial services, which of course cannot be subsidised by the taxpayer."

An all-out strike at Bus Éireann is scheduled for next Monday.

In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Government of "an acquiescence to the undermining of the company and the reduction in workers' terms and conditions in one fell swoop to levels that are not fair or acceptable".

"I find it extraordinary that the Independent Alliance is presiding over and standing by that and is not insisting on a proper policy perspective on this issue," he said. "If a State company is going to become insolvent, it de facto becomes an issue for this House and the Government."

Longford/Westmeath TD Kevin 'Boxer' Moran told the Irish Independent he has received representations from concerned constituents, but believes Mr Ross is dealing with the situation.

"I'm standing by minister Ross and we'll see how the next couple of days go."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected Fianna Fáil's claim the minister "is on the margins silently acquiescing in the demise of a State company".

"The minister is but one member of a Cabinet that acts with collective responsibility here. The Cabinet is fully committed to the retention of the State company," Mr Kenny said.

Irish Independent

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