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Doherty calls on Minister to reverse decision on Night Time Rural Transport Initiative

23 June, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD


Speaking in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty described the decision of the Minister for Transport not to renew the Night Time Rural Transport Initiative as short-sighted and misguided. Addressing the Minister directly Senator Doherty called on him to reverse the decision and asked him to reflect on the implications for rural Ireland which he said would be devastating.

Speaking today he said, “At a time when the government should be investing in public infrastructure and in particular in public transport the minister has made the highly misguided decision not to renew the night time rural transport initiative that caters for rural communities.

“The only language that this government understands is cuts, cuts and more cuts. Reckless decisions have been made with regards to public transport without a cursory glance as to how this will affect vulnerable people in our rural communities. This decision shows just how out of touch the government parties are with those they are supposed to represent. And sure why would they have to worry? Our government ministers need never worry about catching the bus as the tax-payer provides a new Mercedes for them every time they need it.

“The decision not to renew the night-time rural transport scheme will be detrimental for communities in east and west Cork, Cavan, Sligo, Roscommon, Laois and in my own county Donegal. The scheme will expire on July 10th and will not be renewed.

“As usual it is rural communities and communities along the west coast that are first on the chopping block when it comes to cuts. The loss of these rural services will have a very real affect on these communities. Rural transport is vital for jobs but also it is required to ensure that those most at risk of social exclusion in rural areas have access to essential facilities and public services.

“The benefits arising from better public transport provision in rural areas include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, social inclusion and rural development opportunities.

“In the 2002 National Rural transport Survey, 380,000 people described their transport system as inadequate for their needs. The results of this survey showed that 24% of the total rural population perceived themselves as having unmet transport needs, while in some key groups the proportion of unmet needs was considerable higher. While private transport is the predominant mode of transport in rural areas, there are still some 20% of people without access to a car in the counties of Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

“The cuts to the night-time rural transport services were announced the very same week that we learn of proposed cuts by the management of Bus Éireann to more than 99 bus routes across the state with some 320 jobs to be axed. Public transport in this state has taken a beating not seen since the 1950’s.

“Minister your decision is short-sighted and misguided. I would urge you to step back and take a proper look at what these cuts will do to rural Ireland. Rural communities are particularly affected by recession and cannot take anymore cuts. What you are doing is stripping them bare. You must reverse this misguided decision.” ENDS

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