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Hands off rural transport – Doherty

7 October, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking during a debate on rural transport in the Seanad today, Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has warned that the McCarthy proposals on axing the Rural Transport Scheme will result in massive hardships for the people of rural Ireland.

He said:

“The Dublin four economists that compiled the McCarthy report have sentenced rural Ireland to a death by a thousand cuts.

“The proposal to axe the Rural Transport Programme is short-sighted and callous and takes no regard of the needs of the people of rural Ireland.

“Of course worrying about getting from A to B is not something that this government will ever have to concern themselves with. Far from getting on a bus, our government ministers need only whistle and a shiny limo will race up and collect them. While John O’Donoghue travels in style rural Ireland is left stranded.

“Adequate rural transport is required to ensure that those at risk of social exclusion in rural areas have access to essential facilities and public services. The Rural Transport Programme has an important community focus and allows rural dwellers access to important services.

“These measures, when coupled with recent cuts to Bus Éireann routes and the discontinuation of the night-time rural transport scheme as operated by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; will increase car dependence and reduce the accessibility and connectivity of rural areas, reducing their attractiveness to investment and increasing isolation.

“Donegal has the highest remoteness and deprivation scores in the country. Lack of transport was and still is a major barrier to sustainable living from a social, community and personal aspect. The loss of the three rural transport schemes in the county will have serious and far-reaching effects on already isolated communities.

“This government needs a wake-up call – stop bailing out the bankers who caused this economic mess and start looking after the people who built the celtic tiger economy.

“These cuts should not and will not be tolerated.” ENDS

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