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Minister’s attitude to cross-border travel “shocking”- Ó Caoláin

21 April, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “shocking” Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey’s attitude to cross-border bus travel.

His comments followed on a Parliamentary Question reply in which the minister repudiated his own pledge to a joint Oireachtas committee to address the inability of travellers to buy cross-border bus tickets online.

The Cavan-Monaghan Deputy said:

“Several years ago it came to my attention that the Bus Éireann website did not provide an online purchasing facility for persons wishing to travel from the 26 Counties to the North. Incredibly, bus tickets can be bought online for routes from throughout the 26 Counties to London and Warsaw but not to Belfast or Derry. On following this up, I learned that this was due to incompatibilities in the computer systems used by Bus Éireann and Ulsterbus respectively.

“In May 2008 I raised the matter with Minister Dempsey at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. He agreed that this was a nonsensical situation and undertook to pursue the matter further. However, in a one-line reply to a Parliamentary Question this week in which I sought a progress report, he stated that it was purely an ‘operational matter’ for the bus companies and one in which he had no role.

“It is shocking that in the 21st century it is not possible to use the internet to purchase a bus ticket from one jurisdiction on this island to another. It makes a mockery of the IDA’s recent claim that Ireland is ‘rapidly becoming the internet capital of Europe’. It is equally shocking that the Minister for Transport has chosen to wash his hands of any involvement in the matter, particularly after his promise to an Oireachtas committee.

“A fully integrated all-Ireland transport infrastructure is an essential element of our development as a modern nation and our status as a destination country for tourism, industry and education. If Minister Dempsey believes he has ‘no role’ to play in achieving this objective then he, like the rest of the Cabinet, should step aside and make room for a new government that will give this issue the attention it deserves.” ENDS

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