Saturday 24 February 2018

Ross still insists transport is a 'doddle' as bus strike looms

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

TRANSPORT Minister Shane Ross has defended his claim that managing the transport sector is a “doddle”.

The statement, made by Mr Ross during an interview on the ‘late Late Show’ on Friday, caused significant anger among union chiefs.

But speaking to reporters in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Ross said he was merely drawing a comparison between transport and the controversies that have overshadowed Ireland’s Olympic campaign in Rio.

“I had been told that sport would be the kind of good news story and transport would be much more difficult and sport turned out to be a really difficult part of the portfolio,” Mr Ross said, before adding that he does not regret the use of the term.

Meanwhile, Mr Ross appealed to both sides in the bus dispute to come to the table in a bid to avert this week’s strike.

Dublin Bus workers are due to down tools from 9.00pm on Wednesday unless a breakthrough is found.

The Independent Alliance TD called on the sides to come together - but warned that the Government will not be a “light touch”.

He said his officials have considered the prospect of allowing motorists to use bus lanes - but that he has been advised that such a move would be “illegal”.

“What I’m doing at the moment is I’m going to appeal to both sides at the 11th hour to get talking again. I think the only way this strike can be sorted is that the two sides get together across the table again and discuss a settlement,” the Dublin-Rathdown TD said.

“The Government is not going to be a soft touch for either management or unions and people shouldn’t think that it will be.

This is a dispute between the management and the unions and it would be absolutely wrong for me to give any impression the State is going to use its cheque book to sort out this problem,” he added.

Asked why he has not yet met unions - despite being in the job four months - Mr Ross said no invite was received.

He added: “If they wish to meet me, I’ll certainly consider it. I have no reason not to meet them at all.

I have no reason why I shouldn't meet the unions at all.”

Online Editors

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