Dessie Ellis TD opens Saturday session of Sinn Féin Árd Fhéis addressing the issue of transport
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North West Dessie Ellis has opened the Saturday session of the Sinn Féin Árd Fhéis in the Convention Centre.
Speaking this morning Deputy Ellis said:
“A modern republic as envisaged by those went out to fight for it in Easter Week of 1916 must be one which provides basic services to all its people, from the crowded city to the isolated hillside.
This is a service which despite some successes has never reached adequacy in this state. The inadequacies have in fact been widened and entrenched by the practices of successive neo-liberal governments who underfund publicly owned companies and undermine them with support and deregulation for private interests. Interests that seek not to provide a service and good jobs, but to squeeze profit wherever it can be made.
These governments, cheerleaders of the new Martin Murphys, have sought to make public owned companies seem inefficient or outdated. They have attacked and privatised openly or by stealth great companies which had served the Irish people well given their circumstance.
The outgoing government has laid the fuse for the destruction of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann in signing off on the effective privatisation of 10% of their routes and 100% of routes in Waterford. This is the thin end of the wedge.”
Deputy Ellis continued:
“Of course the cuts to these companies affect far more than just their workers. The services which have had to be cut, the fares that had to be raised and improvements which could not be carried out with a 20% cut to the state subvention have hurt public confidence in these companies but also isolated people and made it harder and more expensive to get to work, to socialise or even to make that important hospital appointment.
In the last few years whole townlands across the state have been left without a bus service as Bus Eireann streamline services to compete with the private market that are preparing for take over. This is not how public transport should be run.
Workers who have fought to defend their conditions and to get a better share of the profits of their work have been vilified in the media but they are struggling for all of us to ensure a publicly owned, safe and decent transport system free of yellow pack jobs with good pay and union representation. They do this in the spirit of Connolly, the Irish Citizens Army and their forebears of the ITGWU.
Republicans must stand with these workers and I was proud to do so this very week. Sinn Fein stands firmly opposed to privatisation and will continue to. We will push for public control and ownership of any new public transport infrastructure. Private operators only serve private interests and drive down conditions for workers.
We send our solidarity to workers in Iarnroid Eireann, Luas and who are currently in dispute. We stand with you.
The Minister must do more to ensure that workers conditions are not attacked in public transport.
Access is a key to good transport and for many our transport system is not accessible. It is unacceptable that people with a disability are denied are often unable to use public transport effectively due to a lack of supports. People living with a disability depend on public transport and it must be accessible to them in all circumstances.
In our manifesto Sinn Fein proposed a major fund for increasing accessibility in public transport and also supporting the purchase of wheelchair accessible taxi’s through VRT changes. A system which fails so many people who depend on it cannot be considered adequate or effective. The only solution is modernisation through investment.
Public transport is also a major weapon in the way we address climate change and bring down emissions. The effects on the austerity on public transport services have forced some people back into their cars. This has to be counter acted.
We need a government led strategy to increase public transport usage and public transport capacity to get cars off the road.
A Sinn Féin government would dedicate itself to an affordable, accessible and efficient public transport network which serves all communities. This is essential to make Ireland a decent place to work and to live in and support a robust and vibrant economy and a healthy environment for us all to reap the benefits of. “