Restructuring of rural transport scheme another cost cutting exercise – Ó Clochartaigh
Sinn Fein Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh planned restructuring of rural transport announced by Minister of State Alan Kelly as a cost cutting exercise.
Speaking today Senator Ó Clochartaigh said;
“The minister’s plans to give local authorities a role in the organisation of the rural transport scheme provides a nice sound bite. However, if we look at what restructuring of the scheme really means then the picture that emerges in not a good one.
“The reality is that Minister for State Alan Kelly is on a cost cutting initiative. Rural people and the public transport system they depend on are to be subjected to a process of slash and burn and the transport system that grew organically out of rural communities is to be dismantled.
“The minister can use all the fancy words he wishes but this is about cost cutting and savings – it’s just the latest instalment in the politics of austerity so beloved of this government.
“And yet again it will be the vulnerable who are affected the most. For example, the government’s own report on the Rural Transport Programme states quite clearly that older women, people with disabilities and single mothers are the groups most dependent on the rural transport scheme.
“Why should rural populations be discriminated against? If we believe in equality of access and in supporting and creating sustainable rural communities then it is imperative that we empower those same communities to determine and control their own needs when it comes to public transport.
“We should be investing in rural communities and a reliable and decent public transport system is an essential part of this.”