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BusConnects plan 'could be the next water charges', FG TDs fear

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Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Fine Gael TDs have raised serious concerns about the controversial BusConnects plan at a private meeting of the party.

A series of TDs and senators from the capital raised questions about the proposed overhaul of bus routes in Dublin amid fears it could become as politically dangerous as the water charges fiasco.

There has been a call for Transport Minister Shane Ross to come before an upcoming Fine Gael meeting to answer questions about the plan, which was the subject of a Fianna Fail motion in the Dail yesterday.

The motion called for protection of Dublin Bus services.

The debate at the Fine Gael meeting was sparked after Dublin North West TD Noel Rock tabled a motion to discuss "profound concerns" relating to the scheme.

One source said the party was "getting it in the neck" from hundreds of people at public meetings about the proposals and claimed the issue was being seized on by opposition parties.

Mr Rock is said to have claimed that Mr Ross appeared "uninterested" in the bus plan.

Sources said Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell argued that it was a "mistake" for Mr Ross not to stay in the Dail chamber for the entirety of a debate on the matter.

Warned

Dublin South West TD Colm Brophy compared the issue to water charges and warned it could cost Fine Gael seats at the local elections.

Contributions were also made by Kate O'Connell and Frances Fitzgerald.

Sources said Senator James Reilly asked if Mr Ross could be asked to attend a Fine Gael meeting to discuss the issue.

Parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon is understood to have said he will consider inviting Mr Ross.

During the Dail debate, Mr Ross said Fianna Fail TDs needed to "get their act together" and choose "which side you are on".

Yesterday, Fianna Fail said it supports a large portion of the project but expressed concerns about the redesign of routes. The party has reservations about the project, saying it must not be used to cut services.

Mr Ross entered the Dail chamber yesterday with a photograph of Fianna Fail TD John Lahart and Senator Gerry Horkan at a BusConnects event.

"Today we have the language of chaos and culling from Fianna Fail, yet here in the photo I have Deputy Lahart standing shoulder-to-shoulder with what he calls the culls," Mr Ross said.

"They cannot be on both sides on this one."

Dublin TD John Lahart said he supported seven of the eight elements of the plan but had concerns about the redesign of routes because passengers on popular routes would face having to make connections to complete journeys.


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