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Sinn Féin discuss Dublin Bus with union leaders

28 January, 2009

Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald today led a Sinn Féin delegation to meet with trade union leaders in Liberty Hall to discuss the decision by Dublin Bus to reduce its fleet by 120 at the cost of 290 jobs. Ms McDonald was joined by Dublin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Dublin City Councillor Daithí Doolan.

Speaking in advance of this afternoons meeting the Dublin MEP said:

“The decision to withdraw 120 buses from the capital city’s public transport service is incomprehensible, particularly in the context that is happening under the Green Party’s watch.

“This is a bad decision for workers, the people of Dublin, for public service delivery, for the environment and for city’s sustainability. It is also an indictment of the government’s refusal to properly invest in and influence through progressive policy the capital city’s public transport service. Dublin should have a first class affordable integrated public transport system. We don’t and the blame for this lies with successive Fianna Fáil governments who have for decades mismanaged public monies.

“Transport Minister Noel Dempsey’s inaction to the Dublin Bus decision has been shocking. It is completely inappropriate for a Minister for Transport to abdicate his responsibility in such decision making. This matter is not solely the ‘responsibility of Dublin Bus management and unions’, the government as holder of the public purse which pays for such services is a key stakeholder whose policies should positively shape the delivery of a progressive modern transport system. 

“Minister Dempsey’s position is an entrenchment of failed Fianna Fáil policy. Dublin is heavily dependent on car usage, primarily because government policy for decades has prioritised road building above public transport infrastructural projects and the necessary resources to support them. If Ireland is to build its competitive advantage government should be increasing investment into existing public transport not reducing it.

“This decision is also bad news for the environment. Ireland made commitments along side its European partners in December to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. Clearly the government, despite the influence of the Green Party from within its ranks, has little intention of honouring these commitments.

“We will also discuss with SIPTU the withdrawal by government of the excise duty relief on fuel, following the implementation of the EU Energy Tax Directive, which has sharply increased operating costs for Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann. Late last year Minister Dempsey said that he and the Finance Minister had been unable to reverse this decision due to a decision by the EU Commission based on EU restrictions regarding State Aid.

“In February of last year Sinn Féin welcomed the Transport Ministers decision to shelve plans to privatise of a number of Dublin Bus routes. Privatisation of public services and critical infrastructure such as communications and health had proved to be a disaster for citizens and businesses alike. Private operators cherry pick routes which leaves public service provision volatile. Fine Gael’s assertion that such privatisation is good news for the people of Dublin is nonsense.

“Dublin City and indeed Ireland can and should have a 21st century integrated public transport service. Government needs to frontload infrastructure projects that can employ workers from the construction sector and increase our competitiveness; such infrastructure projects must include public transport.” ENDS

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